Starting out in research

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by eklope2000, May 30, 2002.

  1. eklope2000

    eklope2000 Member

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    I am just finishing my freshman year in a pre-med program at a UC. For a few months, I have been reading about MSTP programs and have started to seriously consider academic medicine as a career. I should probably finish this year with a 4.0 GPA, so I'm doing well in terms of academics, but I realize that research experience is definitely the most important part of an MSTP-hopeful's application.
    So pretty much everyday I've been asking myself how to get started with research. Perhaps you can give me some advice...

    Considering that i have NO previous research experience, and the only science that I know is first year biology and chemistry,
    how should I go about getting my first position in a lab? What was your first lab experience/how did you get started?

    If I begin research work in my second year, is that too late to be a competitive MSTP candidate?

    Thanks for your help.
     
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  3. none

    none 1K Member

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    Not too late at all! Third year wouldn't be too late! Now of course it depends on the UC. Here at UCSD the bio department maintains a lengthy list of profs looking for undergrads. You're definitely a wanted commodity! Contact the bio department.
     
  4. RT

    RT Rt

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    Sound wonderful so congratulations. Check out this recent thread:

    <a href="http://forums.studentdoctor.net/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=37;t=000070" target="_blank">Publication Tips</a>

    My idea is that it's not research until it's published, so definitely try to get your name in any sort of publications, preferably journal paper.

    Be selective about the professor since who you work for is more important than what you work with. Select the one that has the most publishing rate in recent years.

    When you ask for a research position, it's useful to mention:

    1. you're willing to work hard
    2. you want at least 1 publication
    3. ask to see whether they have any project that could have publishable result within 6 mons or 1 year
    4. If they like you, you could even push the bar further, ask to see whether you'll have a chance to write the paper or be 1st author.

    Most of them will honestly say that their projects are long-term and it's not possible to publish within six months or a year.

    If you're just interested in getting research experience, then any lab would suffice.

    :cool:

    RT
     
  5. CoffeeCat

    CoffeeCat SDN Angel

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    If all else fails and it's really hard to get a research position: offer to volunteer for a semester/quarter! (Just don't let them take advantage for too long).
     
  6. exigente chica

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    Congratulations on taking the first step! Most people come to undergrad as strickly pre-med and will never try anything else, I comend you for your intrest. I think that you never know until you try, and if you try and don't like it, well then at least you know that research is not for you.
    First of all, if you are a minority, there are all of options for you. There is the MARC, MBRS, MIRT,McNAIR just to name a few programs that are supported by NIH/NSF that help fund minort research. So ask your advisor if your school has any of those programs, or I can send you some info.
    If your not a minority, there are still a number of options avaible to you! First, use your best resource, your school. find out what projects your professors are working on, if any intrest you, talk with them, go see the lab and the people that work in it, and ask if they have an opening.
    It's not too late for you to start research, some people feel that's quantity matters, but I believe that quality is better! What does 4 years of research look like if you had 3 mentors and learned nothing? Bad. find one you like, if not move. Take advantage of your summer time, there are usually only 10 weeks, and pay alot more then working at the mall!
     
  7. eklope2000

    eklope2000 Member

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    When I approach a professor about volunteering in his/her lab, should I bring anything with my like a resume? To what extent would she/he expect me to have familiarized myself with their publications and research before approaching them?
     
  8. Bikini Princess

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    Bikini princess's advice:

    - Ask about your chance of being published.

    - Choose a professor with a good track record with other students.

    - Choose a PI/mentor who has good interpersonal skills.. pleasant personality. :)

    - Choose research which is sincerely interesting to you.

    - Choose to do research at a medical school. The environment is great for making connections.

    - Ask about the #pubs/year, # post-docs and grad students, (especially grad and postdoc turnover rate). Does the lab have an experienced lab manager? Does the lab have assistants who do all the solution prep and glassware? Does the department have it's own core facilities? Is the PI well-regarded on campus? These what distinguish good labs.
     
  9. RT

    RT Rt

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    Eklop3,

    Yes, bring a C.V. You don't need to read their publications. However, reading their papers demonstrates that you're way ahead of most students and the profs will like that very much.

    Don't be discouraged by the technical info. Focus first on the introduction, then summary or conclusion, then abstract. But reading takes lots of times, so I'd recommend doing that for profs that you really like.

    And ask lots of question regarding the research/environment 'cause asking questions shows that you're willing to learn as well as your brilliancy. Most likely, they'd be impressed by ur questions.

    preirta.nih.gov/apply.htm has some sample questions.

    RT
     
  10. hnbui

    hnbui Addicted to Yale Med

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    do you guys ever feel akward about asking whether you will be published along with the research or not?


    when you guys asked this.... what was the professor's usually response?
     
  11. _ian

    _ian Senior Member

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    I actually think it's pretty rude to ask, and I wouldn't do it. I'd look to see yourself how often the grad students are published and leave it at that.
     
  12. huseyin

    huseyin ras mania

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    I completely agree. When you ask this questions, most of the PIs would think that you are after the publication not learning. Indeed, for an undergrad gettting a name on a journal does not mean too much as long as you are not able to talk about it. Of course, if you are the first author, it is different.

    My PI and another proffesor that I know interviews for our MSTP and they keep saying there are some undergrads who have their names on a journal article but can not necessarily talk about their research or their role in the project is limited.

    I would suggest to ask the PIs that you want to work in their lab:

    1- How do they train undergrads?
    2- At which point you will have your independent project?
    3- And I would check from pubmed:How does the lab publish overall and are they at good journals(this wil show how competetive the lab and PI is?


    Honestly, being a middle author in a paper and having an unknown PI is not comparable to be trained in a good lab and a stellar letter from an authority in any field.

    A couple of years from now, when you go to the interviews, you can just say "Oh, I did the PCR for all these mouse tail DNA" or you can say "To prove m hypothesis, I performed this, this and this experiment."
     
  13. tedrik

    tedrik mifune

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    I have to respectfully disagree with the two above posts. You could sound like you only care about boosting your CV if you ask this question in the wrong way, but if you are professional about it, then it will actually make you look more determined in the eyes of the PI.

    When I came into my lab I sat down with the PI and told him that I was interested in attending graduate school, so I wanted to come into his lab and play a serious role in one of his projects. I explained that I wanted to take on as much responsibility as he was willing to give and that I would like to work towards publishing a paper as well. He said that he was happy to see an undergrad trying to take some initiative as opposed to coming into his lab just to do some tech work and get a few easy "A" credits. He promised me that I would have my name on several papers and that one of them should be first author. Since then he has always treated me as a colleague and gives me lots of one-on-one time, meanwhile everyone makes jokes about how he always calls the other undergrads by the wrong name.

    You don't have to take my advice if you feel uncomfortable doing it, but I suggest being straightforward about this subject and let the PI know that you want to be a real contributor in the lab.

    Good Luck! :thumbup:
     
  14. hnbui

    hnbui Addicted to Yale Med

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    thanks for the advice. I think i'm going to foolow your approach if you don't mind ? :)
    :) :D :D :D :D :D
     

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