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Looking for a new research lab, I shot emails to two professors, thinking it would be ridiculous that I'd get even a single email back (last time I looked for research position, I went through 20+ profs before I got a call back).

Now both emailed me back with interviews dates. Wasn't expecting this and I can't decide which to go to. One is from a crazy prestigious research institution (think top tier university) whose projects have I have moderate interest in, and another is from a research lab which I'm super interested in but facility is not as well known.

Would it be possible to do both? I could probably devote 20 hrs/wk for research, 10 to each lab. Would it be frowned upon by adcoms/PI's?
 
Apr 23, 2013
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Looking for a new research lab, I shot emails to two professors, thinking it would be ridiculous that I'd get even a single email back (last time I looked for research position, I went through 20+ profs before I got a call back).

Now both emailed me back with interviews dates. Wasn't expecting this and I can't decide which to go to. One is from a crazy prestigious research institution (think top tier university) whose projects have I have moderate interest in, and another is from a research lab which I'm super interested in but facility is not as well known.

Would it be possible to do both? I could probably devote 20 hrs/wk for research, 10 to each lab. Would it be frowned upon by adcoms/PI's?
You should not work in both, because splitting your attention that way is too likely to dilute the value of your time.

However you should go to both interviews and then decide. Prestige and even topic area should not be the main factor in your decision. The best lab for an undergraduate will be one with a PI and graduate students who like mentoring. You should go to both interviews to meet people and see which is a better fit. And you may not get offered a position at both.

If you are offered a position at both, the PI of the one you don't choose will not care a bit unless you're somehow spectacularly rude in declining the offer.
 
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Avicenna

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You should go to both interviews to meet people and see which is a better fit. And you may not get offered a position at both.
I practically got into both the way the emails made it sound. The profs were absolutely ecstatic that I had shown interest in their research group, and I can't help but feel a little guilty for rejecting one.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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I practically got into both the way the emails made it sound. The profs were absolutely ecstatic that I had shown interest in their research group, and I can't help but feel a little guilty for rejecting one.
Consider this your first real-life lesson in the art of professionally declining something. Trust me, it's a useful skill. No guilt is necessary.

Either way you want to meet with them first. It is hard to tell true tone from email, as well as exact involvement. Maybe they are super enthusiastic to have a new pair of hands to wash the glassware. You can email them back to set up the first interview/meeting, and put in a line like "I'm looking forward to discussing my potential role in the lab!". Thus the door is left open for politely backing out of the less desirable situation.
 
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Avicenna

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But what if I /could/ handle 2 labs at the same time? Wouldn't I be putting out more publications through this and increasing my output?
 

AlteredScale

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Looking for a new research lab, I shot emails to two professors, thinking it would be ridiculous that I'd get even a single email back (last time I looked for research position, I went through 20+ profs before I got a call back).

Now both emailed me back with interviews dates. Wasn't expecting this and I can't decide which to go to. One is from a crazy prestigious research institution (think top tier university) whose projects have I have moderate interest in, and another is from a research lab which I'm super interested in but facility is not as well known.

Would it be possible to do both? I could probably devote 20 hrs/wk for research, 10 to each lab. Would it be frowned upon by adcoms/PI's?
Whichever one will give you more independence to conduct your own project.

I think the prestigious one might get you a possible pub authorship which is always a good thing. But if you see your interest in the other lab sticking with you for the rest of your medical career then go with that. Usually being more interested denotes more dedicated work in the lab.
 

iBro

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But what if I /could/ handle 2 labs at the same time? Wouldn't I be putting out more publications through this and increasing my output?
You likely can't.

It's extremely uncommon for an undergraduate to publish in even one lab. Go into the one that best serves undergraduates; one that has you on a project instead of dish duty.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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But what if I /could/ handle 2 labs at the same time? Wouldn't I be putting out more publications through this and increasing my output?
It's very, very unlikely that you would get more publications (or possibly, any) by splitting your time between two labs instead of focusing on one. 10 hours a week is just not a lot of time. At the vast majority of labs publication-level contributions will require a higher level of commitment then you can provide if you are dividing your attention.

Quality over quantity.
 

Dr. Retractor

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But what if I /could/ handle 2 labs at the same time? Wouldn't I be putting out more publications through this and increasing my output?
You could do it, but I think the question is should you do it. People are saying no, but you seem to think it's a good idea and you probably know better than us what your chances of publishing are. If you think you can publish in both labs and speak enthusiastically about both labs and devote enough time to both labs (this means treating each lab like its the only one you're working at) then you should go for it. 10 hours/week at one lab won't get you too much if you're doing independent research. Otherwise you're doing research tech stuff and not learning about the essence of research.

If working at both labs means you're doing second/third-author work at both vs doing first-author work at one, the one first author will look way better than 2 second/third author.