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.

Did Someone Write a Recommendation Letter for You?

Every time someone writes a letter of recommendation for you, it’s important to send a thank-you email expressing your gratitude. It doesn’t need to be a long email (in fact you want to keep it under six sentences), but it should be sincere.

For the maximum benefits, send the thank-you email the same week the letter is done. However, if someone wrote a letter for you last summer and you didn’t know to send a thank-you email, get it done today. It can still count.

Although there are more, here are three reasons you should send a thank-you email:

Lab Cell Phone Tip #3: When Something Doesn't Look Right

When you're conducting an experiment or doing a technique, take photos of anything that looks “odd” if your research mentor isn't around to help.

Sometimes, it's easier to describe and troubleshoot a problem if you have a photo to go along with a statement such as: “I don’t think my culture lysed correctly," or "When I filtered the solution, it looked chunky," or "The tissue kept tearing on the microtome."

Obviously, this won't work for all kinds of wet benchwork (such as enzymatic reactions), but when a photo could be helpful it's a great resource to have.

Choosing a Lab: Don't Let FOMO Hang You Up

If you find yourself in the enviable position of getting to choose between two research positions, don’t let the fear of missing out prevent you from making a decision.The best strategy is to start by considering each position individually without comparing them to each other.

Undergrad Inquiry: What does "Invest In Your Project?" Mean

After yesterday's post, Tips on Being a Good Labmate, (http://www.undergradinthelab.com/node/92) we received three inquiries asking what it means to invest in a research project.

One undergrad asked if it meant to design a project or come up with their own research question. Another asked if it meant starting a crowd funding campaign to pay for supplies. Although these will certainly show dedication, and be great if you do them, most undergrads will demonstrate their investment in other ways.

Tips on Being a Good Labmate

In the lab, regardless of who your mentor is, you'll work with others as part of a team. If you’re lucky, your mentor will spend a few minutes explaining lab rules, policies, and essential aspects of lab culture. Even so, you’ll most likely be challenged with learning most of it as you go.

How well you get along will your labmates will have a direct impact on how much help you receive from others, your letters of recommendation, and how much you enjoy your time in the lab.

Student Doctor Network for Pre-meds

Hey Pre-med undergrads...you do know Student Doctor Network, right? (http://www.studentdoctor.net)

If you're not already, get in the habit of visiting the website regularly. It's a great resource with articles and forums that will help you stay on track, learn success strategies, and learn from others about their mistakes so you can avoid making the same ones.