STEM

—from the Lab Manager's bench

The mysterious ways of mentors

Most mentors do a solid job informing a new undergrad of the basic requirements of a research position. Typically, they cover the expected time commitment, lab safety procedures, lab dress code, and guidelines for writing a pre-proposal or end-of-semester report. When it comes to working at the bench, most mentors remember to share technical tricks with a new researcher, and offer guidance on getting organized, programing equipment, and finding research supplies.

But sometimes, because we have been in science for a long time or because we are distracted by our own research goals, we forget what it was like to be a new undergrad adjusting to a professional lab environment.

Quitting Time?

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, your research experience doesn't work out. Maybe you don't like the lab culture, the project, don't have enough time in the lab to gain the skills you need, or you're simply overextended and need to cut something.

If you won’t continue with undergraduate research next term, but your advisor believes you plan to, update them the next time you’re in lab. Yes, it will feel awkward but most advisors will be supportive of your decision.

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.

—from the PI's desk

Ask relevant questions for a successful interview

Each semester, when you select your classes, you apply a methodical approach. You no doubt consider several factors such as: what will satisfy major requirements, help you prepare for the MCAT or GRE, add weight to your transcript, and, of course, what sounds the most interesting. Essentially, you don’t play “registration roulette” and find yourself in advanced string theory when you really need a cell biology course.

26
Oct

10 Things to Expect Your First Semester of Research

—from the Lab Manager's bench

Even if you have previous lab experience from a high school or college lab class, the first few weeks of a new research experience in a professional research lab will have its challenges, surprises, and likely be quite different from what you're expecting.

—from the PI’s Desk

Early in my career, a tenured professor told me, "If you sneeze, and it's a good sneeze, keep track of it." At the time I doubted it would matter but I've been forever grateful that I followed his advice.

Writing down noteworthy (and seemingly insignificant) accomplishments, skills, and activities while the details are fresh in your mind can make all the difference when you need to update a Resume or CV for a scholarship, volunteer, job, or program application.

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