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Summer Research

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by MsPurtell, May 2, 2002.

  1. MsPurtell

    MsPurtell Guest

    Jun 14, 2001
    Hi Everyone,

    I know several of us have expressed interest in doing summer research projects between our second and third years of dental school. I'm supposing that such programs run 10-12 weeks at the longest. Having worked in labs for a dozen years, I can't imagine what one could accomplish in such a short period of time even with putting in extra long hours.

    So, does anyone know how summer research projects typically work? Do students merely undertake a single facet of an already established research project? At UConn we are expected to put in a proposal regarding our ideas for a project. Even with my lab experience, I can't see coming up with an idea and experimental design without a fair amount of guidance. Doing the actual bench work will probably be relatively easy for me. I'd really like to do something substantial, perhaps something I could present at a national meeting or something that will increase my chances of getting into a specialty. Do some students find the time to do more substantial research projects during the academic year?

    Thanks for any insights!

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  3. MsPurtell

    MsPurtell Guest

    Jun 14, 2001
    Oops! I meant the summer research projects students typically undertake between the FIRST and SECOND years. Duh!

  4. Bruin2k

    Bruin2k Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    San Francisco, CA

    You are asking good questions. I had the same questions before I decided to do research over the summer before I start school in the fall at UCSF.

    First, you are right about not having enough time to do a really big project in a 3 month period. They don't expect you to come up with something big so you don't have to worry about that.

    This is how the summer research program works at UCSF and how I went about finding a mentor. First, you have to find a mentor who will guide you throughout the summer. I contacted a several professors (based on their research interests) and was able to get a hold of some of them. Out of those professors, only one of them was willing to be a mentor over the summer. Once I got a mentor, I had to write a research/grant proposal. This part is the hardest part because you have to narrow down what you really want to do. Usually, your mentor will give you a several options/suggestions for you to choose from. My research project will be a part of what they are already doing in the lab. Once you get that done, you are required to work 40 hrs/week for 12 weeks. Also, at UCSF, we have to take a class on Wednesdays and go to some dental seminars. Lastly, we are required to present our findings in the end of the summer--presentation and research paper.

    So, if I were you, I would first think about what kind of research you want to do in the future. Then, try to contact some of your professors if they can be your mentor. Try to read about your research interest before talking to them (it helped me a lot when my mentor asked me WHY I wanted to work in her lab). Lastly, start early--it takes a long time to find a mentor and to write up the proposal, especially if you have a lot of school work.

    I wish you luck! Have fun at UCONN!!

  5. MsPurtell

    MsPurtell Guest

    Jun 14, 2001
    Thanks for that advice, Bruin2k. I'll definitely start looking for a mentor early. I want to do something cool that uses my molecular skills!

    Good luck to you with yor project!

    Anyone else planning research?

    Margaret :D
  6. gryffindor

    gryffindor Dentist 10+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2002
    Hello Margaret! I did research last summer between the first and second years and will be continuing this summer. Last summer we had 8 weeks. At Buffalo, we have a student research program that requires you to put in a proposal by December the summer before you intend to work. The director of this program is helpful in suggesting which mentors usually take on summer students. You should ask current students which mentors are good about having summer students. This is important b/c you don't want to have a mentor that is going to demand you put in long hours during the school year while you are worrying about passing Anatomy. The students will know this info; UConn may also have a Student Research Group where upperclassmen will guide you. A good mentor will help you develop your proposal as well.

    Over the summer, Buffalo has similar expectations to UCSF. You are expected to work 40hrs/week, but this depends on your mentor; my friends and I worked hard, but our mentors were a bit flexible since it is also our summer break (like a Friday off here, a half day there). All students had to meet every Tuesday morning and we had to present at the end of the summer and at Student Research Day in February. You are expected to do enough research to publish an IADR abstract in the fall.

    Do students merely undertake a single facet of an already established research project? Probably. Depends on how much time you want to put into it. At the IADR meeting in San Diego this March, there were many students from dental schools across the country presenting great research - basic science and clinical.

    Research has been a great thing to be involved in while in school. It sets you apart from all the other students and lets you experience one aspect of dental science you are knowledgeable about.

    Check out the IADR website - <a href="" target="_blank"></a> There are student positions and student competitions described on their site that you can think about once you get started on your project. Good luck to you in your search!
  7. MsPurtell

    MsPurtell Guest

    Jun 14, 2001
    Griffin and Pat,

    You guys have given me great advice! I'm definitely going to get started early, pick a mentor who can really guide me, write an outstanding proposal and then give the research all I've got! It's all a lot clearer to me now!

    Thanks, Margaret :D

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