phd advice

Using Equipment for the First Time? Ask Before Starting.

—from the Lab Manager's bench

Self-directed learning is a reasonable expectation for all lab students, and should become part of your core as you develop into an independent researcher. But if you’re an undergraduate researcher, before working with a piece of equipment that is new or unfamiliar to you, always first consult with an experienced labmate—even if they are not your official research supervisor.

15
Jun

5 Survival Tips for Summer Research

—from the Lab Manager's bench

After publishing the blog post “10 Things to Expect” I received requests for some summer research “survival tips.” I’m happy to provide the same tips I give my new undergrads at the start of a summer experience.

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.

16
Oct

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.

01
Apr

The One Letter to Rule Them All

— from the PI’s desk

Why this letter matters so much

As an undergrad, one of the reasons you devoted so much time to a research experience was to earn an epic letter of recommendation--one that speaks to your strengths, resilience, character, self-reliance, cultural competencies, ability to solve problems, and contribute to a group effort.

This letter will be a comprehensive endorsement of your graduate, medical, or preprofessional school application complete with specific examples that influenced your PI's opinion. This one letter has the potential to outweigh all other letters from a professor whose class you attended, or from someone who oversaw a volunteer program you participated in for a semester.