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 and the PI's desk

We know that mentoring is challenging, surprising, rewarding, & so much more. On Twitter, we often use #ProudMentor or #ProudPI to retweet when a mentor tags us in a tweets about the undergrad members of their research team.

If you want to share a few words on why you mentor, the impact it's made on you, or other thoughts were listening. And we’d like to share it with others, too.

Our goals for creating the Mentoring Matters series are straightforward.

1. We want to show undergrad researchers that mentors are "real people" and not wholly mysterious creatures.

— 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.

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.

—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.

Is Senior Status Too Late to Find a Research Position?

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

Some labs even have projects that require senior status. These labs often want students who have completed most major core requirements, have background knowledge in the lab's subject area, and have learned techniques from their instructional labs. Also, sometimes a mentor has a short-term project and can only offer a semester or two of research experience so they are open to students at any academic level.

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