undergraduate research

—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.

MicroInspiration: Do Undergrad Research

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 the time to dedicate 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. (And here's something: if they aren't, then you were definitely not in the right lab!)

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.

Take a Break. Renew. Reboot.

Sometimes, the best plan is to take a break from the chaos and embrace a little bit of 'me time.'

Especially when you're nearing the end of an intense research experience or semester, it can be hard to focus. And even the little things can seem to take more effort than they should. The crushing feeling of "responsibly overload" always happens at the worst time--when you have soooo much to do and most of it is tied to a deadline.

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.

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