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skyisnotthelimit

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Hi everyone, I'm an undergrad freshman in my first quarter. I have started research and it's really exciting, but everything is starting off very slowly right now. I've learned agarose gel electrophoresis, pcr, qpcr, bca assay, western blot, cell culture, and a bit of flow cytometry. There is a post-doc that teaches me, but many times he's busy so I sit in my own desk and either study the concepts I was taught in lab or my coursework. It's awkward sometimes because I go into the lab and not really learn anything new. I spend about 6 hours in the lab per week (although I plan to increase that when I get more involved), and I'm not doing anything by myself at the moment. Is it normal to be starting off slowly in the lab like this, or should I be more involved by now? I have no prior lab experience and don't know what to expect. Thanks!

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Yes, science moves very slowly, sometimes painfully so. Until you have your own project there is really not much you can do to control your own time and you will see eventually that even then the progress on the whole project is always slower than expected even if you work very hard. Continue paying your dues as it were and, more importantly, figuring out the logic behind experiments. Why are you doing a western? What does it tell you? How does that information support or deny our original hypothesis? How does it advance the goals of the original project? Does this data mean that we should change our goals? Are there experiments that are being left out but could help us fill some gaps in our argument? Is there another question that is simple but time consuming to answer that I could splinter off and answer on my own to help the project?

Eventually, you will be ready to have your own project and you will see that learning to ask these questions and recognize when they are appropriate will really determine how quickly (or not) you can make progres. I do not pretend to have it all figured out, that's what grad school is for (I hope), but if you keep actively thinking about why you are doing things and showing your PI/lab mates that you are more than a fly-by-night premed lab monkey then you will be given more responsibility over time.
 
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They probably want you to be properly trained and have enough experience and lab skills that you can run on your own. If you're feeling that it's moving very slowly, ask the post-doc if you can do some procedures under his supervision. If he's too busy, you can always use the school's web resources to read up on relevant scientific publications (literature research is important). You can also read up on your post-doc's past publications to become more familiar with his work. Then you can pick his brain and find out how he went about choosing certain projects, or more likely he'll tell you every single detail about it if there's some downtime.
 
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it takes some patience; some people are very lucky and get 1st author with little work and some dont. part of the game
 
Bench research just sucks in general :unsure:
 
Hi everyone, I'm an undergrad freshman in my first quarter. I have started research and it's really exciting, but everything is starting off very slowly right now. I've learned agarose gel electrophoresis, pcr, qpcr, bca assay, western blot, cell culture, and a bit of flow cytometry. There is a post-doc that teaches me, but many times he's busy so I sit in my own desk and either study the concepts I was taught in lab or my coursework. It's awkward sometimes because I go into the lab and not really learn anything new. I spend about 6 hours in the lab per week (although I plan to increase that when I get more involved), and I'm not doing anything by myself at the moment. Is it normal to be starting off slowly in the lab like this, or should I be more involved by now? I have no prior lab experience and don't know what to expect. Thanks!

I'd say you are well ahead of the curve for an undergrad. My freshman undergrad did nothing but wash dishes the entire first year. By his senior he, he was allowed to do some lab work for publishable data.
 
Yes, science moves very slowly, sometimes painfully so. Until you have your own project there is really not much you can do to control your own time and you will see eventually that even then the progress on the whole project is always slower than expected even if you work very hard. Continue paying your dues as it were and, more importantly, figuring out the logic behind experiments. Why are you doing a western? What does it tell you? How does that information support or deny our original hypothesis? How does it advance the goals of the original project? Does this data mean that we should change our goals? Are there experiments that are being left out but could help us fill some gaps in our argument? Is there another question that is simple but time consuming to answer that I could splinter off and answer on my own to help the project?

Eventually, you will be ready to have your own project and you will see that learning to ask these questions and recognize when they are appropriate will really determine how quickly (or not) you can make progres. I do not pretend to have it all figured out, that's what grad school is for (I hope), but if you keep actively thinking about why you are doing things and showing your PI/lab mates that you are more than a fly-by-night premed lab monkey then you will be given more responsibility over time.

Thanks for the advice! I feel that those questions will definitely help me understand my research better. I appreciate the help :)
 
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