Undergraduate Research Experience

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My junior year at Ohio State has sadly transitioned from in-person classes to online classes. Although I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue my classes, many students, including myself, were upset by the cancellation of jobs and research.

Up until the transition to online classes, I continued to work as a Resident Advisor and started working as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Chamberlin Lab in the Department of Molecular Genetics. I have enjoyed these two experiences greatly and am very thankful to have had these experiences for as long as I did. Because I did not want my research to go unnoted, I wanted to summarize my experience and what I learned from my first two semesters.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask your PI for help. When I first started in the lab, I found that I was very intimidated to ask any questions and was worried that I would mess up. However, after talking to the Graduate students in the lab, I learned that everyone makes mistakes, and asking for clarification is never harmful. Additionally, I learned that your PI is there to help you and is there to help you grow.
  2. Make friends in the lab! I don’t think I would have gotten through my 3-4 hour labs without talking to the other researchers. Whether I talked to my PI, Grad students, or Undergrad students, I learned that the communication I had with my peers helped make my research experience much more enjoyable.
  3. Find a good podcast. This absolutely saved me and helped me find a new passion. When you have to work in the lab alone, it can be draining to sit in silence while repeating the same PCR or Gel Electrophoresis procedure. Additionally, over time, I became very tired of my own music and missed talking to someone. For me, podcasts were the light at the end of the tunnel. Some of my personal favorites were: My Favorite Murder, Morbid: A True Crime Podcast, The MCAT Podcast, Crime Junkies, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, and Small Doses with Amanda Seales.
  4. Ask your PI about Fellowships and/or Scholarship opportunities. Chances are, your PI is already connected at the university and knows about the different fellowships and scholarships associated with your specific research. Additionally, writing a scientific paper for a fellowship or scholarship is extremely rewarding because you get to use the scientific method on your own research. When I applied for fellowships and scholarships, I had to write a scientific paper regarding my research (which was the Ras pathway), understand how to use BioSketch, and learn how to approach professors for recommendation letters.
  5. If you enjoy your research, ask your PI about getting more involved. As an undergraduate, creating presentations, presenting at conferences, and showcasing your work is crucial, as you will most likely have to present in the future. As a pre-med student, I am expected to describe my research and have a solid understanding of my work. Research conferences are a great way to put yourself out there and to really show what you know in preparation for Medical and Graduate schools.

Overall, I am extremely thankful for my first year research experience. I would like to thank Dr. Chamberlin for the experience and look forward to next semester!

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