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swindollswindoll Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
edited November 2012 in College Life
So, how do you start? I'm interested in research in Biology. Do you email random professors and ask for a volunteer position? Do you join a club that will help you get involved? What's the best way to start doing research?

To those of you who are pre-med/pre-dent, does your school offer an opportunity to start a research under the Medical or Dental School? Has anybody tried this?

When should one start? Is second semester of freshman year too early?

Thank you!
Post edited by swindoll on

Replies to: Research

  • cortana431cortana431 - Posts: 5,015 Senior Member
    I'm a freshman biomedical engineering major doing pre med. I was very fortunate and I currently have 2 research positions: one is a paid wet lab job doing most of the grunt work for a ph.d student and professor's research project which will hopefully get published and the other is working in the research group of another professor doing biological simulations and computational work; this one is more long term and i can stay on for as long as I want (and my work is satisfactory).

    I don't think it's early at all; I'm starting the lab work this semester, continues and finished in the spring and starting the research group work next semester. I would love to get published, which can take quite some time, but I also want to get good experience and have an advantage over other freshman when looking for research next year. Classes are only going to get harder so I figure I better start now and get used to research.

    So first thing was I looked in the academic departments in biology and biomed engineering here at RPI and professor's work. I emailed 15 professors, about 10 responded back, 7 said their lab was full and they also don't take freshman, 1 said to contact him next semester, and the last 2 were for the positions I got. I actually had to interview for the paid research position as there were other applicants but I was immediately taken into the other research group.

    So I would recommend looking at the work professors are doing, see what interests you and email the professor briefly introducing yourself and stating you're very interested in their work and ask if there's any openings in their lab for research experience (state for next semester too if you want). You should email plenty of professors because a) their labs are probably full and b) they specifically may not take freshman.
  • collegeboi1992collegeboi1992 Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    I suggest that you are better of starting off with "talking" and introducing yourself to professors you've already taken courses before. Check their faculty pages on the college website to get information about their research interests/publications. If possible, and time permitting read some of their works to see if it appeals to you. Also, talk to your professors for references to other academics who are hiring research interns. There are summer undergraduate research programs at some colleges and some professors hire work-study students. It is all a matter of asking around, talking to your instructors and faculty. Clubs and senior year students are also a great help , especially if they can share their experiences in getting a research position. Network with graduate students in upper years, they are also good at this stuff...
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Registered User Posts: 6,608 Senior Member
    cortana, just speaking as a battle-seasoned grad student, but I'd recommend only working at one research position instead of splitting your time between two. Projects can really soak up a ton of your time, and 15 hours split between two labs is much less time than 15 hours at a single lab. You'll be amazed how much more it feels like you can get done over a summer when you're working 40 hours a week (or more) compared to when you just pop in for an hour or two a day. I know now if I only have an hour to work in the lab it's almost not even worth the start-up time involved.
  • cortana431cortana431 - Posts: 5,015 Senior Member
    I'm definitely aware of the time commitment; the i only have to work on the project for 10 hours every 2 weeks and the group position is more flexible; the professor stressed to me that academics come first and I can take time off whenever I want to do classwork or pull out if it becomes too much (that one is about 7-8 hours every week). i'll see how I turn out in the beginning and if my academics start to suffer I'll definitely cut one of the positions
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