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.
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.

Do You Know Why Your Research Matters?

What is ever better than getting an exciting research result? Understanding why it's important!

Learning the background information associated with your project is an essential step to understanding the full significance of your research project. Background information includes learning the basic information about your project, why it's important, and how it supports the overall research goals of the lab. The more background you understand, the more you'll be able to contribute to all parts of your project.

Two Reasons To Present Your Research Every Chance You Get!

There are many reasons you should put yourself though the special kind of stress that accompanies presenting your research. This post will cover two.

1) To build your resume or CV. Whether you apply for a fellowship, scholarship, or med/grad/prof school, the more presentations you have to list the better off you'll be. Most selection committees rank research presentations as a quality-rich activity.

Predicting the Future

Before starting an experiment, you should be able to predict what the results will be if you're successful, and what the results might be if you're not.

Although you won't be able to anticipate every possible outcome for every experiment, knowing the probable ones before you start will help you understand and correctly interpret the results you get.

Not only will this help you become a more independent researcher, but also it will help you make a more meaningful connection with your project.

Even If You Know What's in it, Label It!

When you're in a rush to wrap up your lab day, it may be temping to save a little time and not label a tube, bottle, or component--after all you know what it is. But that is a sure recipe for disaster.

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