undergraduate research

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.

25
Mar

Extra Responsibility = Praise for a Job Well Done

— from the Lab Manager'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.

— from the Lab Manager's bench

It will happen to you. It will also be okay.

There is only one guarantee in research: sometimes things fail. It doesn’t matter what your major is, how much experience you have, or whether your research is basic, applied, clinical, or translational.

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