Dismiss Notice

Interview Feedback: Visit Interview Feedback to view and submit interview information.

Interviewing Masterclass: Free masterclass on interviewing from SDN and Medical College of Georgia

"Preparing" for Research?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DendWrite, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. DendWrite

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    1
    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?
     
  2. NurWollen

    NurWollen Strong with the Force
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,380
    Likes Received:
    2,302
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    My school offers a 3 credit lab class class on molecular bio techniques that is supposed to teach you all the technical stuff you need to know to be competent in a lab. That's of course just what the professor says, but it certainly can't hurt. Look and see if your school offers something along those lines.
     
  3. Greonis

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I wouldn't worry too much about "preparing" for a laboratory experience that has yet to be fully defined. When you find a specific topic that you'd like to work on (whether you start your own project or contribute to an existing one), communicate openly with your fellow researchers and determine what you should learn/practice. In most cases, you will be trained on the spot by a more experienced member of the group. Your previous experience would certainly help you here, but not having it would be unlikely to hurt you.

    In short, keep doing what you are already doing. Explore many areas of your laboratory, and if something piques your interest to the point of wanting to have it be a part of a project, let your PI/mentor know and see what he/she says. More than likely, he or she will get you set up with the resources and the training to realize your goals.
     
  4. 175961

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Messages:
    2,787
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Molecular technique courses are good stuff. You dont need to be pouring over papers and books and all that jazz. Pay attention when you are in the lab and learn that way. Plus, since you are just following people around, take advantage of any hands on experience that happens to come your way.
     
  5. richse

    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2007
    Messages:
    422
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Medical Student

    I started out like you, spent two summers during undergrad as a lab "intern" just learning the ropes. I can tell you it is a mix of reading papers, watching how everything works, and interacting when you can. Spend time trouble shooting experiments if you can, that's one of the best ways to learn. When I came back to the lab while I was doing my post-bacc I knew the ropes and started taking on projects and teaching new lab members. I've published, presented, and done just about everything else you can do with research. If you put in the time and take it slow the time in the lab can definitely pay off.
     
  6. MCP1

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    For information about what your lab is about, it is good to read papers. However, do not get too caught up in reading everything as depending on what field you are in, there are going to be thousands and thousands of papers.

    For instance, I do cancer research so I simply make an effort to read some review articles as they come out as they provide a good summary of past and recent research. I usually do not delve into specific papers until I have a set topic and project in mind.

    For techniques, nothing I have learned in a class at my university has really been applicable to my lab. You will find that various postdocs and PhDs will all have their "tricks of the trade" that help you get the best possible results. The best advice is to just get in there and do the technique and talk to fellow lab members about how to improve.

    In my experience, stats would be somewhat helpful in that it may help you better understand p values and stats test used in papers (though I do not know how much an intro to stats class would really cover). As far as when it comes to writing a paper, the people in my lab have always been willing to help out with that kind of thing.

    Really, the best thing to do is just to make sure to help out everyone and learn from them as lab work is essentially hands on and cant be learned from a book.
     

Share This Page