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NTettamanti

Undergraduate Research as a Freshman?

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm heading to college this upcoming fall and I desire to do research. However, I don't know how to go about getting a position. If any of you have done freshman research, I have a few questions:

 

1. Did you find a professor to research with before or after you started classes? Or were you offered an opportunity to research on your own?

 

2. Did you have prior lab work experience (I've taken AP/IB Biology and AP Chemistry, I'm just assuming that isn't considered experience)? If you did, how did you receive it?

 

3. Are there any books about lab work that I should read before school starts? Any books on scientific thought I should read?

 

I suppose I'm just kind of lost as to where to go, and I figured that since a lot of you have experienced this that it wouldn't be a problem for the community to answer it. Thanks!

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1: Talk to someone in your field of interest A.S.A.P

 

2: Not always, ten to one you'll start off cleaning dishes and they'll slowly teach you what you need to know

 

3: Yeah, you can always google lab techniques, or wiki them to get a general idea of what's required since most labs will usually adapt protocols depending on what they need done. Books on scientific thought, try the science section at your local bookstore, I can recommend 'Philosophy of Science' by Geoffrey Gorham, it's very easy to read and gives you a solid foundation to build on. Furthermore you could wiki the scientific method and philosophy of science and just bounce around from there.

 

Undergrad research/working in a lab is extremely fun and sometimes they even pay you! Also it never hurts to get a lil' buddy-buddy with the profs. So all you need to do is decide on what's the most interesting and then find a prof and ask him/her.

 

'course this may differ to wherever you're from but this is my experience.

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First year of college is a bit too early for research, you should wait until you finish your first couple of major-related courses and have a solid basis, then you can approach a professor.

 

 

Personally, my research came by "accident". I had a question that interested me, and I tried to solve it. I went to one of my professors to see if he can help me and if I'm on the right track, and we decided it is a good enough problem to be researched officially. So, not always is research entirely about joining an existing one.

 

Also, it depends what you have in your college. We have "Independent Study" that we all need to take, so there's an "official" place to start research even if you don't know how to approach a professor. Some people take a subject (like black hole behavior or general relativity) for their independent study, and some join a professor's research or conduct data-analysis. Maybe your college has that too.

 

I suggest you keep the research plan in your mind but don't rush it. Get through the first year and finish your first few major-courses to get a proper base knowledge. Some of it can give you an idea of what interests you or questions you might want to try and answer, or a research you would like to participate in. Then you can talk to professors. They usually want undergrads to run around for them ;)

 

Good luck!

 

~mooey

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My university explicitly sponsors freshman research programs through professors who sign up to mentor undergraduates in their labs. You may wish to check around and see if undergraduate research programs exist at your school.

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Really? In the beginning of freshman year before any entry-level physics classes were completed? That's pretty cool.

We can start a research project as freshmen, but it's less advised; the idea is to be able to carry as much of it on your own as possible, and in the freshman year there's not a lot of experience yet to do that. They give us this option in Sophomore or Junior year usually.

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Undergraduate research doesn't necessarily mean working a research project on your own; generally freshman research people work with a group on a pre-existing project. The professors arrange for projects that can be completed by the undergraduate students with the help of the other grad students in the lab.

 

For honors thesis projects, the general procedure is to find a professor doing interesting work and send them an email saying "hey, your work is interesting. Have anything for an undergraduate?" They often have a list of projects they don't have time for but that an undergraduate may be able to work on.

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There's a lot of universities that do STEM early undergrad research, you could probably look on your college's website to see if they have any listed to sign up for or just talk to your advisor.

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Thanks for the replies everyone; I think I'll contact the research coordinator at my university and figure out what I need to do next (I can't do my own research, the deadline for undergraduate research has already gone by). If you have anything else to say, then please do as it may be use to someone else who searches for similar advice.

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm heading to college this upcoming fall and I desire to do research. However, I don't know how to go about getting a position. If any of you have done freshman research, I have a few questions:

 

1. Did you find a professor to research with before or after you started classes? Or were you offered an opportunity to research on your own?

 

2. Did you have prior lab work experience (I've taken AP/IB Biology and AP Chemistry, I'm just assuming that isn't considered experience)? If you did, how did you receive it?

 

3. Are there any books about lab work that I should read before school starts? Any books on scientific thought I should read?

 

I suppose I'm just kind of lost as to where to go, and I figured that since a lot of you have experienced this that it wouldn't be a problem for the community to answer it. Thanks!

 

The state university here, through the College of Science has a competitive scholarship program for freshmn women that has a significant stipend and arranges for hands-on participation with research faculty that starts in the summer before the fall freshman semester. It has been very successful.

 

I would start by inquiring if your school has a similar program.

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm heading to college this upcoming fall and I desire to do research. However, I don't know how to go about getting a position. If any of you have done freshman research, I have a few questions:

 

1. Did you find a professor to research with before or after you started classes? Or were you offered an opportunity to research on your own?

 

2. Did you have prior lab work experience (I've taken AP/IB Biology and AP Chemistry, I'm just assuming that isn't considered experience)? If you did, how did you receive it?

 

3. Are there any books about lab work that I should read before school starts? Any books on scientific thought I should read?

 

I suppose I'm just kind of lost as to where to go, and I figured that since a lot of you have experienced this that it wouldn't be a problem for the community to answer it. Thanks!

 

First off, as I would have hoped the other members would have asked...

 

What's your field of interest and/or your major?

 

Oh, a biologist with a focus on genetics?

OK, then.

 

Replies to your questions:

 

1a. After

1b. After doing research, people slowly began approaching me more and more wanting me to work in their labs. I decline, because I like where I am.

 

2. Yes, I've been next to a microscope, mixed chemicals, done reactions, and done the math in relation to microbial culture and chemistry. Not very relevant to what I'm doing now.

 

3. You should have a firm grounding in the scientific method. Also, read and work through an elementary statistics book (this will make you attractive a little). Try to not to be too biased. Also, if you want to focus on genetics, you need to read a genetics book asap. My guess is that you should read the statistics book and genetics book over summer. Furthermore, you should find the offices of the various genetics professors and immediately talk to them. Maybe even visit them during the summer.

 

My views on getting research:

 

My view is that you want to start research as soon as possible.

If you're an absolute freshman, tell this to professors.

And for brownie points, tell them you have the hope of doing Ph.D research in what they are doing.

 

The paradox of accepting students as juniors, because they would then have enough knowledge of the field, is pathetic.

 

I think professors need to grab students as freshman and advise they take no more than 12 credits until their second semester as a sophomore.

At least if a person plans on being a researcher.

 

Talk to graduate students and ask if they can point you in the direction of some research. Ask professors. If they deny you, ask where else to go. Be fast about all of this.

 

Plenty of times when I've done well in a class (B or above) and asked a graduate student if they knew where I could get some research, they've advised I talk to the professor they are doing their research for. Example? It was suggested that I do research with a medical scientist working on better understanding spectrin. Did I care about spectrin? Yes, I find the plastic aspects of cellular membranes to be fascinating. However, I cared more about neuroscience.

 

Another thing to do is ask about pay research positions for undergraduates. I could get a pay position if I want, but mehhh, I'm iffy about all of it. I'd have to put stuff on the backburner for two years. I think I can get into a Ph.D program.

Edited by Genecks

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Thanks for the awesome and detailed response Genecks, I'll keep all of you updated on where I end up.

 

Any advice on which genetics/statistics books to get?

Edited by NTettamanti

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Thanks for the awesome and detailed response Genecks, I'll keep all of you updated on where I end up.

 

Any advice on which genetics/statistics books to get?

 

1) An Introduction to Genetic Analysis (choose a recent edition): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21766/

2) Elementary Statistics [Hardcover] -- Mario F. Triola

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In my own personal experience, finding a spot in a research lab at the start of first year can be difficult. Where I went to university, I managed to secure a position at the end of first semester of my first year through an advanced studies program that I was a part of. I think the main thing in these cases is that you really need to show enthusiasm and a certain degree of intellect. The more you can impress people with willingness to do things and to learn, the more likely you are to score yourself a position in a lab. This is just from my own experiences though. I did three projects in undergrad, which I presented on for various conferances, and that was more or less how I was accepted in to them. Different universities, professors and institute will have different opinions on letting students loose in a lab. As Cap'n alluded to, some will have programs that facilitate student research. I would recommend talking to your university to seee if they offer anything like that and also speaking to professors that work in areas thy interest you about what they do (scientists LOVE talking about their work) and if they have any policy about first year students working in their labs. It's likely that if you do get a spot, you will be doing menial tasks to start with. That may change though.

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