Which lab to report?

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by exigente chica, Oct 13, 2002.

  1. exigente chica

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    Small problem, the lab I was in last year was terrible:( The PI never had any time for me, didn't explain the project well and I won't be comfortable talking about it. SHould I leave it off my application?
    THe lab I work in now is great! THe PI is super nice and walks through everything with me. WE are getting some great data and working on a paper soon.
    I know the summer research in and out and have presented at meeting, just not comfortable with last years lab situation?

    I was just wondering if having only three summers(going away this summer too) and two years of on campus research would hurt me?

    ANy advice would be apprecitated..thanx
     
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  3. CaNEM

    CaNEM Senior Member

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    I have MUCH less research experience than this, and all the schools I heard from so far gave me interviews, not rejections. In addition, I got no indications from interviewers I met so far (Hopkins and Temple) that my experience was insufficient. Quality matters a lot, so if you think your experience last summer was not as good as your other experiences, I would DEFINITELY focus on the positive research experiences at the expense of the negative one. This will direct the conversation in the interviews towards the projects you are more comfortable talking about.

    The only exception would be if you had the PI from the bad experience send a rec letter to all the schools - in that case you wouldn't be able to ignore the project. If not, the schools have NO way of knowing that you took part it this particular project.
     
  4. mjs

    mjs Millionaire, Superhero

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    Don't short change yourself. Talk about every experience you've had.

    There's no such thing as negative lab experience. If you don't intend for a PI to write you a letter of recommendation, just say so on your applications and offer a reason.

    Also, just because you rarely saw your boss and didn't really get to know them personally doesn't mean he/she won't write you a good letter. I've worked in three labs, one small (2 to 5 people), one medium sized (4-9 people), and one pretty darn big (25 at its biggest) and I would say that I've worked alongside my boss less often in the big lab. But, I've proven that I am able to work independently and I think that will reflect in his letter.

    The moral of the story is that some labs, especially larger ones, often run like big businesses: it's not a professor employing a dozen or more postdocs and grad student's responsibility to direct the hundred or so experiments that occur in their lab every week. It's their job to make sure the science that their lab produces is publishable. This hands off attitude is very frustrating, especially when nothing you're doing seems to work, but fear not. Promoting the careers of the people they employ is a big part of a PI's job, so you can probably approach this professor and ask them quite franlky if they will write you a strong letter.


    Good luck,
    MJS
     
  5. wgu

    wgu Senior Member

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    Which leads to other questions...
    What lab size is best for an undergraduate? On one hand you have the Assistant Professor with fresh ideas who spends a lot of time with his/her students, and on the other is the big PI with a post-doc task force doing long term funded projects. I'm sure there's a range of opinions on this, but maybe on the average one is better than the other? Also, what would be the most ideal lab and lab situation? I figured a scenario where you have your own project with a post-doc mentor would be best. Anyone else?
     
  6. Street Philosopher

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    work for a truly amazing Assist. Prof, who also happens to work in a major lab sort of under the head honcho guy. that's what i did. :)
     
  7. mjs

    mjs Millionaire, Superhero

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    there's no magic formula in terms of size, field or research or reputation. Join a lab full of people you like that do cool research and you'll do fine. The best labs work and play well together.
     
  8. wgu

    wgu Senior Member

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    You're right, there isn't a magic formula. But I think at least some situations are better than others. StreetPhil, I am starting to agree with you. If there's an Assist. Prof, post-doc, or kick-ass grad student watching your back, it really puts you in a nice spot for development doesn't it? Of course then the rest is up to you and luck.
     

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