Tips & Tricks

Do You Have All of Your Components in a Row?

Labs tend to be loud or chaotic places.

It's easy to space out for a few second and forget if you've added a component.

Here's a bench tip to help you stay on track: Line up your components in the order you need them. After adding one, move the tube back one row so you don't have to remember if you've already used it.

With this system, even if you lose focus for a few seconds, you'll remain on track. It takes a some time and practice to build this habit but you'll be glad you did when you can rely on muscle memory at the research bench.

Who Owns "Your" Notebook?

Many students are surprised to learn that they don't actually own their research notebook. Depending on the institution's rules, your PI might not even own it--it could be considered property of your college or university.

Some PIs are fine with students making their own copies of a notebook at the end of their research experience, but others are not. Regardless, most will require you to leave the original copies in the lab for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes Friends Just Don't Understand

Ever have one of those great moments in the lab that you try to explain to a friend who doesn't do research and their response is a blank look or an understated, "That's....great....?"

Moments such as getting the exact amount of chemical you need in a single scoop, pouring the exact number of pipette tips out you need to fill the last box, or having the exact number of microliters left in a tube to set up your reaction. Sometimes those little moments brighten our day, but non-lab friends simply don't get why they are exciting.

Is Senior Status Too Late to Find a Research Position?

The short answer: No, it's not too late.

Although it can be more challenging to find a lab position, and be able to finish a project so close to graduation, there are projects for students who have completed all major core requirements. Some labs even have projects that require senior status.

The main challenges you'll face will be to find a lab that accepts seniors or to persuade a mentor to choose you over someone who could be around longer.

Fungi, Fieldwork, and Photography. Undergrad Blog Feat. James Iremonger

Wannbebio is the next blog written by an undergrad that we’ve chosen to feature.

Its author, James Iremonger, who lives in Edinburgh, started his blog during his first undergrad studentship. He describes Wannbebio as “a place to write about biology in general, as well as anything else (heavy metal, films, cats, abject nonsense).” So far, James has worked on several research projects such as urban parasitic fungi, bacteriology, and shellfish immune response to thraustochytrid pathogens.

Well Wishes and Safe Travels

Warning: We're about to brag.

Today, one of our former undergrads, Madi, heads to Oxford University to start her next adventure as a graduate student specializing in immunology.

When she finishes her grad degree (it will take about one year), she'll head back the USA to attend medical school. Talk about an incredible personal year--living abroad, doing research, and earning another degree.

When possible, Set Target Dates Instead of Deadlines for Research Goals

Sometimes researchers, particularly those who are new in a lab, try to set deadlines for all research goals. Although progress is important, and so is setting goals each semester, not every goal needs a deadline.

Your Week 3 Check Up

A few weeks into the new semester (or quarter if applicable) is the perfect time to do a quick self-assesment. Ask yourself this simple question: "Am I finding enough time to study?"

If you do this self-assesment before your first set of exams, you still have time to make some changes, if needed. If you wait too long, it might be too late to do much about it, and will only cause you more stress.

The Quality of Your Resume Matters. Even for a Volunteer Position.

A few years ago, I interviewed a student who didn't put much effort into making his resume look like a professional document. As he was only a second-year student, I didn’t expect his resume to be packed with awards and accomplishments—after all I knew that an in-depth research experience would give him the opportunities to do just that. But I did expect a basic level of professionalism.

Don’t Want the Research Position? It’s All Good.

If you're offered a research position but it’s not the perfect one for you don’t feel guilty for turning it down.

An interviewer will be polite if you decline a research position—and most will actually be grateful that you did so. Although that might sound odd, a research mentor only wants to work with a student who will be a good fit for the available project, and that starts with the student having a strong interest in the opportunity.

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