Right now I'm a college freshman and am working in a clinical research lab as a sort of "intern" ... basically I'm following everybody around, learning lab techniques, reading papers, going to lab meetings, etc. At some point in my undergraduate time, I'd like to try and have my own project, or at least be able to make substantial contributions to a project. The PI told me at the beginning that eventually (a year or two) I'd be able to help out significantly if not have my own project. My question is: how do you gain that level of competence? Is it really just a matter of time and getting familiar with how the lab and research process works? Or should I be reading tons of papers, keeping up with current research, etc.? Any thoughts, tips, or suggestions? What about classes...would stats be really helpful in this regard?