Welcome to Undergrad in the Lab!

Undergraduate research can be incredibly rewarding, but where do you start and how do you succeed? Navigating this unfamiliar territory is not easy. Here you will find advice on how to find a research position, and how to get the most out of your experience.

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.

— Albert Szent-Györgi (1893-1986) U. S. biochemist.

When possible, Set Target Dates Instead of Deadlines for Research Goals

Sometimes researchers, particularly those who are new in a lab, try to set deadlines for all research goals. Although progress is important, and so is setting goals each semester, not every goal needs a deadline.

Your Week 3 Check Up

A few weeks into the new semester (or quarter if applicable) is the perfect time to do a quick self-assesment. Ask yourself this simple question: "Am I finding enough time to study?"

If you do this self-assesment before your first set of exams, you still have time to make some changes, if needed. If you wait too long, it might be too late to do much about it, and will only cause you more stress.

05
Sep

I Need a Reference Letter in Two Years. Should I Ask Now?

—from the PI's desk

We received a request for help from a former undergrad in the lab (edited here for brevity and to maintain anonymity):

Hi Undergrad in the Lab, I have a question for you. I recently finished a 4 month summer research project. I understand the importance of references and I was thinking of asking my supervisor for a reference for professional school but I'm planning on applying in 2-3 years. Should I be asking for a reference letter now while they still remember me or is that a bad idea?

The Quality of Your Resume Matters. Even for a Volunteer Position.

A few years ago, I interviewed a student who didn't put much effort into making their resume a professional document.

As they were only a second-year student, I didn’t expect their resume to be packed with awards and accomplishments—after all I knew that an in-depth research experience would give them the opportunities to do just that. But I did expect a basic level of professionalism.

Don’t Want the Research Position? It’s All Good.

If you're offered a research position but it’s not the perfect one for you don’t feel guilty for turning it down.

An interviewer will be polite if you decline a research position—and most will actually be grateful that you did so. Although that might sound odd, a research mentor only wants to work with a student who will be a good fit for the available project, and that starts with the student having a strong interest in the opportunity.

And So It Begins

Whether this is your first semester on campus or your first semester in a new lab some awkward nervousness is to be expected. If you find yourself a little overwhelmed remember that almost everyone new is going through the same thing. Not sure that's true? Look to the PEEPS for a little bit of wisdom.

Those marshmallow bunnies have it all figured out.

Pages