undergraduate research

—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 Lab Manager'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.

—from the PI’s Desk

Early in my career, a tenured professor told me, "If you sneeze, and it's a good sneeze, keep track of it." At the time I doubted it would matter but I've been forever grateful that I followed his advice.

Writing down noteworthy (and seemingly insignificant) accomplishments, skills, and activities while the details are fresh in your mind can make all the difference when you need to update a Resume or CV for a scholarship, volunteer, job, or program application.

What to do with all of your old lab tape?

Just because you can't recycle something, doesn't mean you should throw it away. For example, make a tapeball with your old lab tape! Whether you've recently started benchwork, or are a year plus in, it's never too late to start a monument to your hard work and dedication.

And if others in the lab are feeling creative, you can express yourselves by making tapeball people when the PI is at a faculty meeting.

Independent Project Blues

Even if you've been working in the lab for a while, when you start a new project there will be unexpected glitches and hiccups--especially in the beginning.

When starting independent project it can be especially frustrating. For many undergrads (and new grad students), the beginning of an independent project is both a badge of honor, and a badge of shame.

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.

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