undergraduate 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 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 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.

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.

25
Mar

Extra Responsibility = Praise for a Job Well Done

— from the Researcher's bench

One of the differences between instructional lab classes and research in a professional lab is how feedback is given.

In an instructional lab, you have quizzes, lab reports, an attendance policy, exams, and possibly out-of-class assignments—all attached to a point system outlined in the syllabus. For most instructional labs, you can calculate your grade and therefore know whether or not you’re excelling.

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