meeting with PI for the first time- advice?

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Apr 4, 2016
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I'm an incoming freshman interested in research, and have a meeting next week with a PI whose lab I want to work in. According to the email, i'm going to be sitting in on a lab meeting and then talking with the PI. I've already read several of the PI's abstracts and tried to (confusingly) read some papers, but I don't know what else I can do to prepare. I have a general idea of what the lab focuses on, but am I expected to be super knowledgeable about everything? As for the lab meeting- what's the proper etiquette for how I should act? I don't know if I should sit quietly and listen/take notes, or be more involved? Any advice is much appreciated to calm my nerves!!

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Don't worry too much about it! The PI doesn't expect you to have a detailed or sophisticated understanding of the lab's research if you're a freshman. Reading abstracts and a few papers are more than enough prep. For the lab meeting, just don't be super awkward/douchey. Smile, say hello if people are making small talk, be quiet during the presentation, and take notes to show you're involved and paying attention. During the talk, the PI will probably just ask you about your background, what classes you're taking, why you are interested in their research, and your goals. If you don't have any research experience, that's completely fine and expected for a new undergrad researcher. Also use this time to ask the PI a few questions. Ask about typical undergrad involvement in projects, expected hours per week, what previous undergrads have gone on to do, opportunities for posters/presentations/publications.
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Also during the lab meeting be prepared to probably introduce yourself- just don't be surprised if the PI is like "today we have so and so joining our lab this year" and then you have to say something etc.

Also dress somewhat nice on the first day. I work full time in a lab and this summer I had to teach a college kid- first day they showed up in running clothes, like short shorts....just don't do that and you'll be fine

Also if you need help interpreting a paper in plain english feel free to PM me
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I was in a very similar position to you my freshman year. Dress nice but don't wear a suit, I work khakis, shirt, and tie. Bring a notebook and pen. Finally and most important seem interested. I cannot stress enough how far this will go.

EDIT: Also please do not proclaim from the rooftops that you're premed.
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