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.

Holiday Week? Be a Good Labmate Before you Go-Go!

If you're lucky enough to have a short academic week to celebrate a holiday, we hope you spend a little of that time out of the lab doing a little bit of nothing.

But before you wrap up at the lab, make sure that you've washed your dishes (if part of your weekly responsibilities), and completed any chores that are regularly assigned to you. You might be planning a few days of Netflix, catching up on sleep, and seeing old friends, but many of your labmates will use the academic break to get more done in the lab.

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.

Wearing Gloves?

You wear gloves at the bench for one of two reasons: Either to protect YOU from your experiment, or to protect your experiment from you. (Okay, sometimes it's both at the same time.) In any case, gloved hands should never touch your face, arms, skin, or cell phone.

You can wash and dry gloved hands (or use ethanol on them) to clean as needed. However, before you do, ask your research advisor for guidelines so you always make the safe choice. In some cases, it's better to discard the gloves and get a fresh pair.

02
Oct

Growing Pains and Stepping Stones

—from the Researcher's bench

After you reach certain benchmarks in the lab, your research supervisor will transition from the role of supervisor to that of a research mentor.

Accompanying this change in roles will be the growing responsibility to do tasks formerly completed by your research supervisor. This will be unsettling at first--especially when you quickly realize that your success is now in your hands. Long ago, one of my undergrads described this path to self-reliance as "Growing Pains" and it immediately became part of our lab’s lingo.

To Accomplish Your Goals, Ask for Advice

This post stands for your personal, professional, and academic goals as well.

If you've been following us for a while, you know we often emphasize the importance of setting goals for you research experience. (If you started following us recently, welcome!)

Whatever your goals are for your research experience, you'll have a much easier time achieving them if your mentor knows about them, and if you ask what you need to do to achieve them.

11
Sep

If Only Choosing a Career Path Was This Easy

—from the PI's desk

Not knowing exactly what you want to do with your life doesn't mean that you're doomed to fail.

If you're struggling to answer questions such as, "Should I choose medical school? Graduate School? Pursue an MD-PhD?" and "What if I'm already set on a path is it too late to change my mind?" know that you're not the only one.

Pages