Research, research, research!

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Kong Bu

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Hi there, I've been an on-and-off lurker for quite some time now (since....Christmas?) and I have to admit I'm glad I found this website as early as I could.

I'm right now a senior in high school going to NYU next year. Since I'm in the break point between high school and undergrad, I wanted to start outlining to get a plan of what my goals are in university and what I want to do. One thing I'm particularly interested about is research.

Now, I'm interested in doing research because the whole idea thrills me. I already started looking into various SURP programs and NYU has one. What I'm curious about is the process of starting research.

I know that there have been threads about this already and I remember reading some way back when. When I searched though, I didn't find much, even in the sticky threads.

So my general questions, if people could please inform me, are this:

1.) How competitive are programs in SURP? Since I'm going to NYU and if I apply to the summer research program NYU has, is there some sort of advantage to that factor?

2.) Do professors who can help students start research normally let freshman students get the chance to start? This makes me particularly nervous because I don't want my Biology professor to say I need more "experience" before I start research, whatever that would mean?

3.) How do students get publications?

4.) If I go for a summer research opportunity but still want to stay in some sort of research throughout fall/spring semester, how will I go about doing that?

5.) If I start summer research one year and want to return to that same program the following summer, is there a sort of guarantee that you will get accepted as a returning student?


Thanks!

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CoolWhipp

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1. I don't know. If I were just speculate some, I would guess not so much.

2. It is not uncommon for professors to allow volunteer research assistants join the lab their freshman year. The idea behind this is that they will get to have you for a longer period of time, training people is a big investment. If they say no, which many of them will, its not a big deal. Move on to the next professor.

3. Typically, research assistants need to show a certain level of commitment to a certain project in order to get published. Sometimes, your PI/postdoc will tell you that you may get published. Sometimes, you have to speak up for yourself and say you feel you did a substantial amount of work and you would really like to get published or have a poster.

4. Most postdocs/graduate students/PI want to keep you if they had you for summer. The goal is to get a summer research position that you like, then ask if you can stay. They want you to stay, so they don't have to train someone else. Assuming that you become adept at whatever they teach you.

5. No. If anything, you have a reduced chance of getting into the same program. This is merely a speculation, but I've read this somewhere.

Good luck.
 

Kong Bu

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Alright! That's really helpful. Thanks for the information!

I actually can't wait to do research. I did it in high school but my teacher (who got her PhD in Biochemistry from Harvard) played favorites extremely. She liked the students who would revolve their lives around their research projects while I balanced research with other activities. I don't think it was enjoyable in the past two years but something in me still finds the ability to research a thrill, especially in university. That's also one reason why I am keen on pursuing it.
 

Ilovewater

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1.) I don't know.

2.) Well, most professors know that you don't have any experience when you ask to join their labs. That's why you're there in the first place right? To learn. Some professors might not accept you as a freshman, but I've met a couple who would because they love to teach undergrads! If one rejects you, just move along and ask someone else.

3.) You have to put in a substantial amount of work to be published. You have to be dedicated to your project and probably become a lab rat. Plus, if your experiments turn out well, then you'll have good data and might have enough to publish. I've met a couple of Ph.D. students who are in their 3rd year and not have a single publications because they never got enough good data.

4.) You can ask the professor you are with to see if he/she will want to keep you after summer. If he/she doesn't want to keep you, I'm sure there are research programs at NYU that you can be involved. If not, you can ask some professors to see if they have open spots in their labs.

5.) Hmmm...I'm not sure about this one.
 

Kong Bu

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I should be prepared for rejection then because I tend to take them to the heart. I'm sure that at NYU, though, there are many professors with their own little thing going on in research that one of them has to at least accept freshman/undergrads. Hopefully I get a jolly man that loves to teach :D.

I think I'll put in an extra 110% if I do get a research opportunity because I want to make my college research experience one of a fruitful experience.

Are there any more inputs?
 

Ilovewater

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I should be prepared for rejection then because I tend to take them to the heart. I'm sure that at NYU, though, there are many professors with their own little thing going on in research that one of them has to at least accept freshman/undergrads. Hopefully I get a jolly man that loves to teach :D.

I think I'll put in an extra 110% if I do get a research opportunity because I want to make my college research experience one of a fruitful experience.

Are there any more inputs?

Good luck! I've definitely had a couple of rejections until I opened that one lucky email. :) I'm sure you will find one. Research is awesome especially when the people you work with in the lab are friendly and fun.
 

StPlayrXtreme

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1.) How competitive are programs in SURP? Since I'm going to NYU and if I apply to the summer research program NYU has, is there some sort of advantage to that factor?

SURP's can be hard to get as a freshman, particularly if you don't have prior research experience. But it would help if you are applying to something at your home school. Also if you meet a professor, he/she may be able to employ you directly instead of through the program.

2.) Do professors who can help students start research normally let freshman students get the chance to start? This makes me particularly nervous because I don't want my Biology professor to say I need more "experience" before I start research, whatever that would mean?

I personally think freshman year is a bit early to worry about working in a research lab. Concentrate on starting your courses, making new friends, establishing a new life at school. Take some classes that you're interested in, and get to know your professors. Your best bet for getting hired for a meaningful research job is through professors that you personally know, either in their lab...or someone they know.

3.) How do students get publications?

You have to crawl before you can walk. Don't come into college thinking you need to have a publication by the time you graduate...sure it would be nice to have one, but the experience of working in a lab is also very valuable. Some labs are geared towards publishing, others might be towards product design, or long term studies. I personally don't understand the premed fascination with publications...you should do research for the satisfaction of contributing to a project and the research process. A paper is just icing on the cake.

4.) If I go for a summer research opportunity but still want to stay in some sort of research throughout fall/spring semester, how will I go about doing that?

Generally, if they like you and have funding, you'll be asked to stay...way too early to worry about this.

5.) If I start summer research one year and want to return to that same program the following summer, is there a sort of guarantee that you will get accepted as a returning student?

To a research program? Probably not. With a specific professor? If they like you and have the funding, the odds are pretty good...but not sure if anything would be guaranteed.



I think you're way too worried about research already. Research is cool (I was in a lab for two years during college, and two summer)...but I think it makes a lot more sense after you've finished some of your course work.
 

Kong Bu

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Thanks Ilovewater. I just have this image of many professors thinking freshman kids think they can do whatever they want and that they're presumptuous. Hopefully I can have a rewarding research experience with someone who gives me a shot.

StPlayrXtreme, I think I've realized after reading your response how much I'm thinking too far into the future. Right now (or at least when university starts), I should focus on integrating and asking my professors for some research position (a little later in the year). I kind of get a little over-worked and stressed if things don't go according to plan.
 

austinap

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I think it's been said before, but you're thinking much too far ahead. It's good to have plans, but you should also be open to the idea that they may change.

As far as specifics about research, it's highly unlikely that any professor would take you on as a freshman. After your sophomore year when you've completed a few science classes and labs you'll start to be taken a little more seriously. You can try applying for a SURP / REU program after your first year, but even with amazing grades your chances are almost zero of landing one. You just don't have experience at that point, and most professors would rather give the space to someone who's had enough experience to really grow from the lab setting.

You're a freshman. You have your entire undergrad ahead of you. Take some science classes to start with, but also take some fun classes. Don't set your career path in stone at this point, you may miss something that you'd like even more. Just my $0.02.
 

itsallthesame

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You are about to be a FRESHMAN.

You should have three goals:

1) Drink a lot.
2) Get laid a lot.
3) Figure out what really excites you academically.

Have fun! Academically and extracurricularly.
Don't do research to do research. Take classes, find professors with interesting classes. Look into their research. Do well in their classes and get to know them.

Then ask to join their lab. And when you join a lab, make sure it's something you find really interesting... and jump into it full fledged. Read more journal articles than grad students. Ask about how articles are published. Talk about designing experiments. Design experiments.

Also, you can only get so much out of a summer. Try to get into something more longitudinal, say where you start in a lab during a summer and continue through the school year. Don't worry so much about programs, per se, just find the right professor.
 

sleepy425

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1.) How competitive are programs in SURP? Since I'm going to NYU and if I apply to the summer research program NYU has, is there some sort of advantage to that factor?

They are typically pretty competitive, although if you have good grades and good recommendations, you usually stand a decent chance. In many cases, students apply for the summer after their freshman year and don't get it, but then reapply the next year and get it. It depends on the program and what the program is looking for. Similarly, if the goal of NYU's program is to provide a good research opportunity for its students, then going to NYU will help you. However, if the goal of NYU's program is to attract students from other schools, or if they don't really care who they attract, then going to NYU won't help you much.

2.) Do professors who can help students start research normally let freshman students get the chance to start? This makes me particularly nervous because I don't want my Biology professor to say I need more "experience" before I start research, whatever that would mean?

If you want to do research your freshman year, then you should be able to find a faculty member who will let you work in their lab. I disagree with other posters who suggested that freshman year isn't the time to start research. Obviously, you don't have to, but I think it can be very beneficial because it will give you enough time to gain extensive experience as an undergrad.

My advice is to try to find a professor who is open to the idea of undergraduate research. There are several ways to do this. First, don't try to join a huge lab. If the lab as a ton of group members, undergraduates are often neglected (this isn't always true, but it happens). Smaller groups give you more one-on-one time with the PI. Also, I've found that younger professors are more open to having undergrads in their groups. Another way is to ask around. Other students and faculty will be able to tell you who is good to work for. NYU is big enough that you shouldn't have trouble finding faculty to work for.

3.) How do students get publications?

Getting a publication takes luck and persistence. You have to stick with the research, even through the tough times. And research is heavily dependent on luck. Sometimes things just don't work. But sometimes, you stumble across something great.

Very few undergraduates get publications. Don't expect to get a publication because you did some work on a project that is being published. You have to have contributed a significant amount to the project. There have been a couple of papers published from my group where I've done a few experiments, but I haven't been listed as an author on those papers, and, frankly, I shouldn't be listed (I did get an acknowledgment though). The paper that I did publish, I did every single experiment and came up with most of the experiments that I did. I guess a rule of thumb is that if you didn't do more than 30% of the work and contribute more than 10-15% of the ideas for the project, then you probably don't deserve to be published. Some professors are different though, and will list anyone who has ever set foot in their lab as an author.

4.) If I go for a summer research opportunity but still want to stay in some sort of research throughout fall/spring semester, how will I go about doing that?

Ask the professor you're working with. At the school I went to, the school would pay up to $1550 per year for any undergrad who wanted to work in a lab during the fall and spring.

5.) If I start summer research one year and want to return to that same program the following summer, is there a sort of guarantee that you will get accepted as a returning student?

No, there's no guarantee. However, doing the program one year does not mean you can't do it the next year. You have to reapply. I did the same program for two consecutive summers, but I had to apply both times. Chances are, if you qualify the first summer, you'll probably be competitive the next summer, but some programs may not want to take the same student in consecutive years.
 

IndianVercetti

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Just summarized all the advice you should take away from this thread for right now. You're not even a college student yet, take it easy man!

I personally think freshman year is a bit early to worry about working in a research lab. Concentrate on starting your courses, making new friends, establishing a new life at school. Take some classes that you're interested in, and get to know your professors. Your best bet for getting hired for a meaningful research job is through professors that you personally know, either in their lab...or someone they know.

I think you're way too worried about research already. Research is cool (I was in a lab for two years during college, and two summer)...but I think it makes a lot more sense after you've finished some of your course work.

I think it's been said before, but you're thinking much too far ahead. It's good to have plans, but you should also be open to the idea that they may change.

You're a freshman. You have your entire undergrad ahead of you. Take some science classes to start with, but also take some fun classes. Don't set your career path in stone at this point, you may miss something that you'd like even more. Just my $0.02.

You are about to be a FRESHMAN.

You should have three goals:

1) Drink a lot.
2) Get laid a lot.
3) Figure out what really excites you academically.

Have fun! Academically and extracurricularly.
Don't do research to do research. Take classes, find professors with interesting classes. Look into their research. Do well in their classes and get to know them.

You may have heard the advice that nothing ever goes according to plan. Now, it's great to have the foresight to make plans, set goals, etc, but I really believe that you'll be a more well-rounded, fuller person if you deal with certain things at a particular stage in your college experience. It's great to be a competitive person, wanting to work harder than others, and go further than the call of duty, as you seem to exhibit, but realize that college is also the time to develop yourself as a human being. By the time you finish your sophomore year, you'll realize how many things you have on your plate - such as studying for MCAT, research, volunteering, shadowing, that you'll be forced to make sacrifices with your time from doing things you enjoy.

That being said, I sincerely urge you, coming from a person who respects hard work, that you should take the time now to develop yourself as a well-rounded person. Read up a bit more on world affairs, become aware of mainstream sports, become an authority on an interesting field separate from science, learn a joke or two. I know that I spent a lot of my freshman year learning about myself, and my weaknesses. I guarantee you, that if you really are as hardworking as you say you are, (and most likely will perform well at college), you'll be MILES ahead of your peers by doing this simple exercise. People will enjoy being around you, because you'll be able to relate to them on several levels.. In other words, you won't just be a "science nerd." As a physician, there is nothing that people will respect more than an extremely knowledgeable individual, who can relate on almost any topic.

I know I really went away from your question, but that's my advice. I'm sure you're a bright person, and I promise this will really set you apart in a good way.

Good luck on your research endeavors! I don't mean to dissuade you in any way.
 

Kong Bu

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Thanks guys. I know I've realized that I'm looking too far ahead, but it's funny how some people can disagree with that.

Yesterday I just spoke with my research teacher about her college experience and getting her PhD from Harvard. Her son is in his 3rd year of Harvard as well and she said that she noticed that in order to make your undergrad years academically fruitful, one had to plan things as soon as possible. She claimed to say that "a lot of students say that 'oh I'll do research in my sophomore or junior year' but when that time comes around, they find out they already have too many things to do because they put off research and started doing other things that carried out in their lives." If anything, she advised me to start planning as soon as this summer. AKA, I should give up my time of getting laid, drunk, and having fun in college to keep planning :D

But in reality, it's different from a student's perspective vs. a teacher's one, but I do know what you're saying IndianVercetti. I guess I came off as too study-freakish, but I am well-rounded to a certain degree. The only thing is at the end of high school, I've gone into a self-reflective/self-critical mode and thought about the things I didn't succeed in as much as I wanted to.

My research teacher pinpointed this exactly by saying "You don't want to be that type of person who looks at another student and says 'Oh, I regret not doing that.'"

But now it seems like I'm just over-stressing myself! :smuggrin:
 
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anxiousteen

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you have your whole life to work. take a year to relax man.
 

Krisss17

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Thanks guys. I know I've realized that I'm looking too far ahead, but it's funny how some people can disagree with that.

Yesterday I just spoke with my research teacher about her college experience and getting her PhD from Harvard. Her son is in his 3rd year of Harvard as well and she said that she noticed that in order to make your undergrad years academically fruitful, one had to plan things as soon as possible. She claimed to say that "a lot of students say that 'oh I'll do research in my sophomore or junior year' but when that time comes around, they find out they already have too many things to do because they put off research and started doing other things that carried out in their lives." If anything, she advised me to start planning as soon as this summer. AKA, I should give up my time of getting laid, drunk, and having fun in college to keep planning :D

But in reality, it's different from a student's perspective vs. a teacher's one, but I do know what you're saying IndianVercetti. I guess I came off as too study-freakish, but I am well-rounded to a certain degree. The only thing is at the end of high school, I've gone into a self-reflective/self-critical mode and thought about the things I didn't succeed in as much as I wanted to.

My research teacher pinpointed this exactly by saying "You don't want to be that type of person who looks at another student and says 'Oh, I regret not doing that.'"

But now it seems like I'm just over-stressing myself! :smuggrin:

Okay, I'm going to have to differ a little bit. While yes it is early per say, but there is absolutely no reason not to have a goal such as this. What I would do is not to rush into anything one you get to college, but try to absorb what is happening around you. Do well in your classes right off, and be open to areas that might interest you. I'm sure you will agree that participating in a research project that excites you is so much better than just to do research for research sake.

You are embarking on a real exciting phase of your life...enjoy it, learn from it and be careful not to do anything that you might be sorry about later!

Good luck :luck::luck::luck::luck:
 

Kong Bu

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This is true. My brother just graduated college this year and he even said that the most important part of anyone's undergrad years is to discover yourself. He said that NYU it would be hard to be studying all the time when around you there are plenty of clubs, parties, and things to do :D.

I think it's a good idea to plan and look into certain research programs, that's a given. I don't think it's wrong either to look ahead because I should prepare myself with the information needed to enter research. I just want to make sure I can do research all the while balancing my life.
 

eldoctor

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NYU only funds students from other schools for their SURP programs. If money/housing/etc is not a problem, then NYU might take you. If those factors are a problem, however (ie. you have to pay ur own housing/food/no stipend), then you should look for a program that offers those things.
 

Kong Bu

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^ Really? I didn't know that.

I think money/housing/food might be a problem because my parents have their hands tied at the moment. Thanks for this information- I will have to look more into the financial costs.
 

witness23

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the strength of NYU undergraduate school is the opportunity to branch out (besides i-banking) into whatever with full support. If you are interested in med school, I would suggest starting out with something clinical.

http://www.med.nyu.edu/emergency/electives/college/pavers/

bellevue is also an amazing hospital to be a part of, as well
 

Kong Bu

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Wow! I didn't know this existed. With my hype and enthusiasm in looking into research programs, I'm completely missing out on a lot. It seems like this program is close to being like an an EMT, right?

Thanks for this link.
 

guildsman

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Wow! I didn't know this existed. With my hype and enthusiasm in looking into research programs, I'm completely missing out on a lot. It seems like this program is close to being like an an EMT, right?

Thanks for this link.

It seems to be more of a volunteer + clinical research opportunities position. You should contact them to find out more. I believe that you cannot participate as an EMT without considerable training and a license.
 

witness23

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EMT is a totally different thing. If you could be an EMT in NYC and find an ambulance to ride around or something, great. Probably not gonna happen. Those things are totally full.
 

Kong Bu

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Haha, yeah. My research teacher told me about being an EMT and that even though it's stressful, experience-wise it's really good. I just saw two minutes ago that to be an EMT, you have to take classes and get experience. Good thing we have a search button ;).

As for being an EMT in NYC, I can imagine it being really full, but it doesn't hurt to ask around.
 

witness23

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true, you should ask when the time comes. I asked around and it was full :)
 

witness23

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in manhattan, i mean. i think in queens and not-so-yuppie parts of brooklyns there are plenty of opportunities
 

Kong Bu

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Was this when you were in undergrad? Did you go to NYU too? :D
 

witness23

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nah, I wish. I went to the other overpriced douchebag school in NYC (If we assume that there are two). I like the area of nyu though, have fun
 

Kong Bu

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Thanks. I'm from Long Island and so I'm naturally a New Yorker. I still hope I can fit in and do well in the environment. I know some people who say they hate the NYC environment, I don't understand how though.
 

witness23

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yea **** those people. but NYU is definitely not for everyone, as evidenced by the long history of suicides. It is really an independent and expensive place to be, but really fun though.

I'm sure there are tons of people from long island.
 
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