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Undergrad in the Lab profile picture

NOTE: Due to the number of requests we receive for guest lectures, we've streamlined the request process (and made the form shorter!). Please visit Paris' author website at Paris Grey Author to make a request.

About Undergrad In The Lab
A Note for Research Mentors and Advisors

Whether an undergrad does a research project in the field or at the bench, at a PUI or R1 university, one thing is certain: If they feel that it's a meaningful use of their time, the experience is more rewarding for both the student and the research mentor.

With this in mind, we created Undergrad In The Lab.

Our mission is to help undergrads make meaningful connections with their project, their labmates, and science—whether they participate in research for a single semester, a full-time summer, or several years.

We also show students how to approach their research experience as an opportunity to gain personal, professional, and academic development, and we give specific advice on how to communicate with their labmates and research advisor.

We send our own students here to learn the tips, tricks, and strategies for success in the lab. This gives us more time to teach our students research techniques and how to think like scientists.

We hope Undergrad In The Lab becomes a resource for you and your students as well.

Thank you for visiting,

David and Paris

Getting In
For Students:
Getting In: The Insider’s Guide to Finding the Perfect Undergraduate Research Experience will make all the difference in your search an undergraduate research experience and help you prepare for life as an Undergrad In The Lab. Whether you want to participate in a research experience to help you pursue your life’s goals, because you like the idea of research, or aren’t even sure if it’s right for you, Getting In will help you be a more competitive applicant and help you choose a research experience that will be a meaningful use of your time. In other words, Getting In will help you find the research experience that is perfect for you. You can read free chapters at Amazon, here.
For Mentors:
As mentors, we know that when a student is genuinely interested in their project, and able to uphold the time commitment, they are more likely to be happy, successful, and make a contribution. With those ideas in mind, we wrote Getting In to guide students through the search process as they identify and choose a research experience, and deliver a consistent, professional performance once in the lab.

We also address misconceptions about research that were brought up during our interviews with undergraduates and advisors alike. You can read free chapters at Amazon, here.

human cofilin atomic structure
David Oppenheimer
Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Florida

cell biologist, geneticist
A few words about me
I have been working in the field of molecular biology for more than 28 years. My first research experience was as an undergraduate working on bacteriophage T4. I can still remember how excited I was when my first successful phage cross worked, and I saw plaques on the plate. As an undergraduate, I was fortunate to join a research lab (D. Peter Snustad's lab at the University of Minnesota) that emphasized the scientific method, critical thinking, and a genuine interest in learning. Pete's lab encouraged self-reliance, but balanced it with being part of a research team working towards complementary goals. All researchers at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) were considered part of the team, and their contributions to the laboratory were valued. As a professor I have tried to replicate that environment in my laboratory. My current research interests are focused on the proteins that control cytoskeleton dynamics, and how this influences plant cell shape. My profile photo is an atomic model of the structure of human cofilin, which is a key regulator of actin dynamics.
Paris' profile picture
Paris Grey
Lab Manager, Department of Biology, University of Florida

molecular biologist, writer

Paris' author website can be found at at Paris Grey Author

A few words about me
I have been an advisor, mentor, and research supervisor of undergraduates, and lab manager for about 23 years. My first job in a molecular biology lab was washing dishes when I was an undergrad. I eventually moved into the position of undergraduate researcher. One of my favorite responsibilities was to prepare large amounts of plasmids for the postdocs in the lab using the Beckman TL-1000 centrifuge, which ran at 100,000 rpm.

Although I was "just an undergraduate,” the postdocs took the time to explain not only the reasons behind the steps in the protocols I followed, but also the big picture of how my work fit in with the overall lab goals. I use that same strategy when advising and mentoring my undergrads.

My current research interests include determining the function of novel proteins involved in plant cell expansion. My profile picture is a scan of a polaroid photo of my very first set of plasmid preps run on my very first agarose gel when I was an undergrad. I used a 5 min "cracking" procedure to isolate the bacterial plasmids, which yields an abundance of bacterial RNA along with the plasmids.