Experiential Learning

New Researchers Beware: Learning Curve Ahead

For almost everyone, research turns out to be more complicated, and take more effort to gain skills and accomplish the objectives of a project than anticipated. So, if you struggle to learn a technique, or you don’t immediately understand a concept your research mentor explains, remind yourself that such challenges are to be expected.

—from the PI's desk

ProTip for undergrad and grad students alike: Try to apply for at least one scholarship, fellowship, or award each semester--even if it's not science related. This will help you build your CV, possibly be a source of cash or a conference travel waiver, and be part of an overall strategy for staying connected to former and current mentors.

Tip #10 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect to Resent the Return of the Fall Term

Wrapping up a full-time summer research experience is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. But sometime during the first few weeks of the fall semester, a harsh reality will become evident: You don’t have as much time for research. Not near enough time. What would have taken you part of a morning to do in the summer, will now take a week or more to complete. Those long blocks of summer research time will have evaporated along with your increased productivity.

Tip #9 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect to Feel Like a Scientist

Arguably, this is the best part of an epic summer research experience.

After a summer of long hours dedicated to making a contribution to science and overcoming challenges in the lab, you’ll finally feel like a real scientist.

Tip #8 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Personal Growth

When you spend the better part of a summer engaged in full-time research you’re bound to experience substantial personal growth. Perhaps you’ll refine your critical thinking or organizational skills. Maybe you’ll develop a sense of self-reliance or self-discipline that you didn’t know was missing.

Tip #7 for Full-Time Summer Researchers: Expect Unsupportive Friends

One of the amazing things about participating in research full-time is the in-depth, experiential learning and focus you’ll enjoy in the lab. You’ll loose track of time, the day of the week, and occasionally even the month.

If your friends are spending the summer working through a Netflix bucket list, they won’t understand your commitment to the lab, your research project, and your future. Some might continually remind you about their relaxing summer, and compare it to the work-intensive one you’re experiencing. Stay the course.

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