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.

Label Bottle Tops

At the start of a wetlab research experience, there is often more information to learn than is possible to remember. Even those who take great notes inevitably lose some details. One of the most common mistakes a new researcher makes is storing a chemical or reagent incorrectly.

Don't Guess and Go

In a lab, many reagents look similar either in color or formula and substituting one for another can cause substantial frustration for both you and your mentor. Back in the day, one of my student's experiment failed several times before I realized they were substituting EDTA for EGTA. That one letter made all the difference...

Whether you're new to the lab or in a hurry, double check your notes and the bottle label to make sure you have the correct one.

Using Equipment for the First Time? Ask Before Starting.

—from the Lab Manager's bench

Self-directed learning is a reasonable expectation for all lab students, and should become part of your core as you develop into an independent researcher. But if you’re an undergraduate researcher, before working with a piece of equipment that is new or unfamiliar to you, always first consult with an experienced labmate—even if they are not your official research supervisor.

15
May

Empty Bench Syndrome

— from the Lab Manager's bench

Here’s to all the undergrad research mentors who said goodbye to a great student this semester, and feel that little pang of sadness as they clear the bench for a new researcher who starts this summer.

Even though this article was originally published a while ago, it still rings true. Saying goodbye to students, postdocs, technicians and anyone I've mentored never gets easier—no matter how many times I do it.

Take a Break. Renew. Reboot.

Sometimes, the best plan is to take a break from the chaos and embrace a little bit of 'me time.'

Especially when you're nearing the end of an intense research experience or semester, it can be hard to focus. And even the little things can seem to take more effort than they should. The crushing feeling of "responsibly overload" always happens at the worst time--when you have soooo much to do and most of it is tied to a deadline.

12
Mar

Guest Post: A Student’s Perspective on Setting up a Lab

Moving a lab is a tough challenge (we've done it several times). In her article, guest writer MSci student Tomi Akingbade, shares some tips on unpacking and the lessons she learned in the process.

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