Why do research?
Students get involved in research for many reasons. Some are simply drawn to it and know they want to pursue research and science. Getting into quality science graduate programs can be very competitive. Having prior research experience is crucial, especially for doctoral programs. Other students simply want to find out if they would like research. Finally, having research experience can make students more competitive in pursuing non-research careers, such as medicine or clinical psychology.
How can I get involved?
There are three ‘levels’ at which undergraduates can get involved in research in my lab.
(1) The first is just to volunteer. This doesn’t mean that your work and time in the lab is ‘optional’ or unimportant, only that your interest is primarily just in the research experience itself.
(2) doing research for credit. This is more involved and requires we develop a plan for what you are going to do and ensure your work satisfies some basic requirements: that it merits academic credit. NOTE: students who wish to do research in my lab for credit must first complete a semester (or summer) without credit. If all goes well and the lab and student agree that continued involvement is productive, then the student can continue and receive credit for their research in subsequent semesters.
(3) Some students are required to do an honors/senior thesis and may wish to do that in my lab. This requires the student have some defined project. Students should note this from the beginning.
What can I expect?
The lab consist of people at all levels of education and training, from undergraduate to masters to doctoral and, sometimes postdoctoral. Undergraduates will receive most of their training from more advanced lab people, even occasionally other more advanced undergraduates. In addition, we have weekly lab meetings and students in lab are expected to attend these. Finally, I generally schedule regular meetings with students where we discuss your project, training and progress, as well as set goals.
In general, what you end up doing in the lab, how sophisticated and productive your work is, depends a lot on you as the student. Undergraduates learn advanced techniques and get involved in papers and posters. In general, students earn access to more advanced work and projects through their initiative and success, demonstrating they are capable.
(1) time/availability. Science takes time and is not something that can be squeezed in an hour here, two hours there. Students will need to devote reasonable amount of time to research and be available with some consistency. NOTE: I cannot take students for a single semester, but require a minimum of a two semester commitment. One semester does not allow enough time to accomplish anything.
(2) commitment. Research is expensive and painstaking. When students come into lab, this requires using resources to support their research. Moreover, a student’s project is often part of a larger project. The research we do is not designed to ‘provide experience.’ It is federally and privately funded research and the funders expect actual, productive research to be done. Students coming into lab need to make a commitment to prioritize their work with lab. People in lab depend on each others’ work and if a student is not committed and does poorly, it impacts others and harms their hard work.
(3) conscientiousness. As above, the work in lab is not ‘practice’ research but intended to contribute to knowledge, fulfill grant obligations and lead to publications. The work must be done with rigor and integrity, which means each person involved must be conscientious and care about their contribution being right.
(4) dependability. Students working on a project must be dependable: show up when expected, complete tasks as agreed and on time.
(5) initiative and independence. Some students come into lab with a passive attitude believing they will be trained and told everything. Students that are successful are active and independent in their learning– asking questions, looking things up on the web, identifying problems, searching for solutions. Students who approach training thinking of themselves as an empty vessel to be filled tend to do poorly and get frustrated.
When are opportunities available?
This varies. We have only so many resources (mice, funds, equipment, time for supervision). If you are interested and space isn’t available right away, you will be on a list and contacted when an opportunity becomes available. Please let me know of your interest using the google form below. NOTE: this is not a wait list per se and no one is entitled to work in lab. As opportunities arise, these will be offered to students who seem to be the best match for the project/work available. Often this ends up meaning students who have available time to commit.
How do I apply?
If you are interested in working in the lab, fill out the google form in the link below. I will be notified when you submit and will try to get back to you with an initial response in 2-3 days.