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Spring Break: Should You Spend It On The Beach Or At The Bench?

spring break

For most researchers, working in the lab over a holiday break is somewhat different from working in the lab during the rest of the year. For example, if an experiment has flexibly, it can be started or stopped when it’s convenient for the researcher instead of planned around seminars, classes, and campus parking issues. In addition, some researchers take a vacation, adopt unconventional work hours, or hide in their office to work on a manuscript and only visit the lab to search for inspiration, a snack, or a temporary distraction.
I regularly direct several undergrad projects at the same time, work with other members of my lab team, and pursue my own research projects. And even though I enjoy mentoring my students, the researcher in me wants to take full advantage of holiday breaks. For me, a holiday break is an opportunity to set my work schedule as I please or conquer a particularly difficult experiment without being interrupted much. Alternatively, I might start an experiment, or run out to do errands and share a meal with friends, only to return to the lab when it’s convenient for me. I also want to spend some time relaxing—perhaps on my couch playing Halo—because I benefit from taking a break from directing other’s projects and thinking about how to solve a labmate’s bench woe.

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10 Things to Expect Your First Semester of Research

Even if you have previous lab experience from a high school or college lab class, the first few weeks of a new research experience in a professional research lab will have its challenges, surprises, and probably be quite different from you expect. It might take a few weeks before you feel at home in the lab, but it will happen if you stick with it and commit to learning everything you can about your research project. To help you prepare for your new adventure, here are some things that await most undergraduates at the start of a new research experience.

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The F-Word: Your Reaction to Failure in a Lab Matters More Than You Know

There is only one guarantee in research: sometimes things fail. It doesn’t matter what your major is, how much experience you have, or whether your research is basic, applied, clinical, or translational. A research project will test your reliance, discipline, motivation, and, at times, it might make you feel like giving up. However, when your project hits a wall (and most do at some point), how you handle the disappointment is the key to your future success. Your reaction will also influence your labmates and how much help they will offer to get you back on track.
Unfortunately, some undergrads let their frustration get the better of them when faced with failure in the lab. Not only does this make their experience less rewarding, but it’s unpleasant for the other lab members, and that can lead to unintended consequences for the undergrad.

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10 Things to Expect From Your Summer Undergrad Research Experience

For some undergrads, this summer will be spent lounging on the beach reading and hanging out with friends. Days will be spent blissfully sleeping until a parent annoyingly insists that it’s time to get up and do something.But alas that’s not for you.

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