Welcome to Undergrad in the Lab!

Undergraduate research can be incredibly rewarding, but where do you start and how do you succeed? Navigating this unfamiliar territory is not easy. Here you will find advice on how to find a research position, and how to get the most out of your experience.

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.

— Albert Szent-Györgi (1893-1986) U. S. biochemist.

— from the PI’s desk

No matter if your career track is a pre-X (pre-med, pre-grad, pre-dental, pre-vet, etc.), or you're headed for the job market after graduation, you'll need recommendation letters along the way.

Invest 1 hour of your spring break to do a little prep work so it's easier to secure those recommendation letters before your professors are crushed with the pre-summer activity rush.

Here's a breakdown of how to spend that 1 hour.

We connected with an undergrad in the lab who was planning to apply for several summer research programs. They wanted to know how many recommendation letters they could ask each professor to write. As usual, we edited the conversation for brevity and to remove identifying details so the student remains anonymous.

15
Dec

Tips for Pushing that Thesis (or other Manuscript) Out

—from the Lab Manager's bench

I originally wrote this post to answer the question, "What tips do you have for a student with 6 months left for PhD thesis submission?" However, this version is slightly different from the one I posted on Quora. Many of the tips were also adapted from my Instagram account

Whether you love or hate them writing and editing in some form are probably part of the science communication responsibilities that accompany your research position. When writing journal articles on a collaborative research project, you might be responsible for creating the majority of a manuscript (with co-authors and your PI weighing in) or your PI might write the bulk of it but require your input. But if you're writing a student thesis (undergrad or graduate) the bulk of the writing will come from you.

14
Nov

Soooo... What Are You Doing Next Summer?

—from the PI's desk

Waiting might mean missing out on an incredible opportunity

I know—it seems way too soon to be thinking about what you'll be doing several months from now. But here’s the thing: If you even think that you might want to participate in a full-time summer research experience next summer, you need to consider your options sooner rather than later.

—from the Researcher’s bench

The big motivation killers get top billing--and for good reason. If a labmate has created a toxic working environment, your PI is unsupportive, you're struggling to manage a disability (invisible or obvious), your mental and physical health are all put at risk. These are all serious issues and it's critical that you find support in navigating through them.

However, it's also important to recognize that there are issues or work habits that can destroy your motivation but they do so in such a subtle way that you might not be aware of what's happening until you're burning out. Many of these don't seem serious and it's easy to think "Oh, I'm just being sensitive. I shouldn't complain because others have real problems."

But a motivation barrier--even a small one--doesn't take much to grow into a much larger issue. It's dealing with these sneaky motivation killers that are the subject of this article.

Güray Hatipoğlu

In this guest post Güray Hatipoğlu shares how his undergrad research experiences helped him find his current career path even though it wasn't an easy journey.

Starting out

In the beginning, as a first-year chemistry student, I didn’t t know all the differences among organic, inorganic, and analytical chemistry, or have a solid interest in any branch. So, I randomly chose to specialize in organic chemistry and found a faculty member who invited me to join their lab for one half-day a week.

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