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.

Even Water Needs a Label

Establishing good habits at the bench ensures that you don't have to remember all the little details and can focus on the big picture of your experiment. So, label everything during an experiment. Even if it's just a tube of water, and even if you'll only need it for a few minutes.

The Elusive Academic/Life Balance

It is only through the conscious practice of time-management, and prioritizing the activities that are important to you, that you will achieve a solid academic/life balance.

Take time at the end of each semester to ask yourself, "What worked for me, and what didn't?" Then, to help keep your priorities in check without becoming overextended, cut low-value activities, only continue with ones that make you happy, and make finding time for yourself a priority.

Navigating the Observe to Learn Position

If you're offered the opportunity join a lab as an observer, know that it's important to be genuinely enthusiastic and work hard starting on the first day.

Many labs offer an observe to learn position instead of putting undergrads on research projects right away. Although officially it's done to let the student determine if they would be happy in the lab, at the same time the other lab members are deciding if the student seems like a good fit.

Why Choose Research?

Undergrad research is more than benchwork or fieldwork. The skills you learn will help prepare you for any career path because an in-depth research experience will present numerous opportunities to develop personally, professionally, and academically.

New Beginnings

No matter what STEM experience you're part of, the start of a research project is as exciting as it is awkward--and sometimes nerve wracking. If you start feeling a little overwhelmed, read the whiteboard above a couple of times for an insider's perspective.

What to do with all of your old lab tape?

Just because you can't recycle something, doesn't mean you should throw it away. For example, make a tapeball with your old lab tape! Whether you've recently started benchwork, or are a year plus in, it's never too late to start a monument to your hard work and dedication. And if others in the lab are feeling creative, you can express yourselves by making tapeball people when the PI is at a seminar.