mentoring

15
May

Empty Bench Syndrome

— from the Researcher'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.

This guest post was written by Dr. Brandi Ormerod, Associate Professor at the University of Florida, Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Ormerod's research program focuses on understanding how to use transplantable or endogenous neural stem cells to repair neural circuits in the diseased or injured brain, and how changes in levels of hippocampal neurogenesis across lifespan impact cognition. She originally posted a version of this article on Quora and gave us permission to share this version here.

— from the Researcher's bench

For some undergrads, this summer will be spent lounging on the beach reading and hanging out with friends. Days will be spent blissfully sleeping until a parent annoyingly insists that it’s time to get up and do something.

But alas that’s not for you.

If you’ve decided to make the most of your summer by participating in a full-time research experience, you’re about to embark on a new, challenging adventure, and it won’t include much time for lounging. Below are 10 things that will be part of the experience.

—from the Researcher's bench

Should I stay, or should I go?

For most researchers, working in the lab over a holiday break is somewhat different from working in the lab during the rest of the year. For example, if an experiment has flexibly, it can be started or stopped when it's convenient for the researcher instead of planned around seminars, classes, and campus parking issues.

In addition, some researchers take a vacation, adopt unconventional work hours, or hide in their office to work on a manuscript and only visit the lab to search for inspiration, a snack, or a temporary distraction.

—from the Researcher'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.

26
Oct

10 Things to Expect Your First Semester of Research

—from the Researcher'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.