lovemedicine416

2+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2014
23
2
Hi guys,

So I did research with a lab for 1.5 semesters. I did decently well for the first year with great participation, work ethic, and a poster presentation. I took a semester off from the lab due to taking rigorous classes and returned last semester. During this semester, I was going through personal struggles so I performed really poorly in the research. I made many mistakes (not focusing and mis-writing on a tool etc.) and had to meet with my research coordinator (not my PI) about not meeting up to her standards. I slowly worked my way up and finally caught up later during the semester.

My question is, should I return to the lab next semester to make up for my poor performance last semester? I would like her to write me a letter for medical school and may need it also to help find a research job during gap year. I'm afraid that my poor performance during the beginning last semester may reflect on my letter, so I would like to continue research again with her to redeem my poor performance.

On the other hand, next semester I would be working for another lab, doing EMT, shadowing, extracurriculars, and taking physics, and I'm not sure if I would be able to balance another lab (6 h/per week). I was just wondering if I should return to the lab to make up for my poor performance last semester or I should just let it go and ask my researcher if she would be willing to write me a strong letter of rec despite poor performance?

Thanks everyone!
 

mitch8017

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
117
29
Status
Pre-Medical
I was always raised to stick with something through the end, so my first instinct is to say stick with the lab you have put so much time into and drop something else (if you can't keep up with everything). Are you only going to be working in the other lab for one semester? It just makes more sense to me that it would be better to stay in one lab for two years where you know the procedures and all rather than picking up some other lab gig for a semester. If you want it to lead into a research job for your gap year, I feel like a semester of good research and work ethic would get you a decent letter from someone you have worked a couple years with. Who knows maybe your PI could toss you a lab tech position or refer you to someone they know.
 

mitch8017

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
117
29
Status
Pre-Medical
I was always raised to stick with something through the end, so my first instinct is to say stick with the lab you have put so much time into and drop something else (if you can't keep up with everything). Are you only going to be working in the other lab for one semester? It just makes more sense to me that it would be better to stay in one lab for two years where you know the procedures and all rather than picking up some other lab gig for a semester. If you want it to lead into a research job for your gap year, I feel like a semester of good research and work ethic would get you a decent letter from someone you have worked a couple years with. Who knows maybe your PI could toss you a lab tech position or refer you to someone they know.
Also to go off of this post, don't spread yourself too thin or else you will just end up coming up short and suffering in everything. Its better to do well in 2-3 things than mediocre in 6 or 7
 

aldol16

2+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2015
4,908
3,418
Status
Medical Student
Why are you working in another lab next semester? You should really stick to the lab you are already in - being in two labs at once is a huge time and effort commitment and you're much better served to focus your efforts on one subdiscipline versus two.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mitch8017
OP
L

lovemedicine416

2+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2014
23
2
Why are you working in another lab next semester? You should really stick to the lab you are already in - being in two labs at once is a huge time and effort commitment and you're much better served to focus your efforts on one subdiscipline versus two.
Hi,

Thanks everyone for the responses! I actually worked for both labs for almost two years, and I did much better in one lab than the one I described in this post, which is why I wasn't sure if I should just leave it and focus on one lab instead.
 

mitch8017

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
117
29
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi,

Thanks everyone for the responses! I actually worked for both labs for almost two years, and I did much better in one lab than the one I described in this post, which is why I wasn't sure if I should just leave it and focus on one lab instead.
My advice will definitely be to put 12 hours (for example) into one lab rather than 6 into two. instead of just being a lab monkey and running experiments, cleaning cages etc a couple times a week, getting involved in the literature review, try and sit in on meetings, maybe even come up with your own questions. Full-ass one lab position instead of half-assing two.
 
OP
L

lovemedicine416

2+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2014
23
2
I was always raised to stick with something through the end, so my first instinct is to say stick with the lab you have put so much time into and drop something else (if you can't keep up with everything). Are you only going to be working in the other lab for one semester? It just makes more sense to me that it would be better to stay in one lab for two years where you know the procedures and all rather than picking up some other lab gig for a semester. If you want it to lead into a research job for your gap year, I feel like a semester of good research and work ethic would get you a decent letter from someone you have worked a couple years with. Who knows maybe your PI could toss you a lab tech position or refer you to someone they know.
Hi,

Thanks for your input! I actually worked for the other lab for two years and the one mentioned in this post for 1.5 years (minus a semester I took off for a rigorous academic schedule semester). I actually perform much better in the other lab where I've had some research grants and independent projects. Should I continue to juggle with two research? I want to stay in both labs so I can make up for my poor performance last semester and also get a good letter of rec from both PIs. But I'm unsure if I can handle them or drop one for my sanity...
 

mitch8017

2+ Year Member
Jun 21, 2016
117
29
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi,

Thanks for your input! I actually worked for the other lab for two years and the one mentioned in this post for 1.5 years (minus a semester I took off for a rigorous academic schedule semester). I actually perform much better in the other lab where I've had some research grant and independent projects. Should I continue to juggle with two research? I want to stay in both labs so I can make up for my poor performance last semester and also get a good letter of rec from both PIs. But I'm unsure if I can handle them or drop one for my sanity...
Look into the LOR requirements for most schools, there isn't really room/necessity for 2 PIs. Let's say generally there are 3-5 letters to be written for each school. Generally from what I have seen, a lot of schools like to see 1 science professor and 1 non-science professor. That's 2 letters there, and some schools even wanna see 2 from a science prof. You should also aim for some type of work supervisor/volunteer coordinator that has worked a lot with you in a non-academic setting. Now the abundance of letters is far less important than the quality. You have already got 3-4 letters mentioned here and there really is only room/a need for one more-your best PI letter. Devote more time with the one PI and get a better letter from them/get more out of that position rather than trying to "fix" whatever you think is broken with the other PI when you won't need/use their potential letter anyways. As I said before, fully invest yourself in one lab and you will be able to learn more and move further and further past the basic, surface level aspects of research.