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 Lab Manager's bench

We heard from an undergrad in the lab about an awkward situation involving a friend in search of a research position. As usual, we edited the conversation for brevity and to remove identifying details so the student remains anonymous.

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.

—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.

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.

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Choose Your Research Position Wisely

—from the PI's desk

Why passion for a research position will help you get an interview, and faking passion will hurt your chances

Each semester, I post an advertisement for the open undergrad research positions in my lab. The ad includes a description of the project, methods my lab uses, and overall objectives of my lab's research focus. Yet, each semester, several undergrads with interests completely unrelated to my research program apply for a position in my lab.

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.

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