Interested in lab research?
Are you a Biology or Neuroscience undergraduate student looking for a lab research experience while at Brandeis? We have many undergraduate students actively engaged in laboratory research and technician positions.
Before pursuing work in a research laboratory at Brandeis, you should consider what you wish to achieve with this experience as undergraduate research opportunities vary in their scope and range.
What kind of lab research opportunities are there?
Most students start working as a lab assistant in a lab, performing routine tasks such as running gels, washing glassware, and setting up PCR reactions. This type of position may be paid or may be performed in an unpaid intern capacity. Often, research labs have funding from outside grants to hire both work-study and non work-study students to work as technicians. Sometimes, however, the budget of a lab is tight, and the student should consider whether or not they are willing to volunteer in a lab.
You may also wish to work in a laboratory as a research assistant. This experience is vastly different from a technician. As a research assistant you will be asked to perform independent research on a project of your own. Most often, this project is a facet of an on-going research effort already being investigated by a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in the lab. You will work closely with the grad student or postdoc on your project and will be expected to perform experiments independently, hypothesize on data collection and manipulation, defend your conjectures, and you may even be asked to present your research at lab meetings or conferences or to publish your findings in a peer reviewed journal. Because research assistant positions are highly selective, most students begin working in a lab as a lab assistant to gain experience and demonstrate proficiency, and then are asked to continue on as a research assistant. Although it is unusual some students do begin an undergraduate research assistantship right away. Most often these students have been involved in an outside laboratory experience or have demonstrated themselves to be outstanding in laboratory classes.
How do I pursue a lab research opportunity?
- Take the initiative: look at the fields of research in which faculty members specialize. Find a professor whose research you find interesting.
- Meet with the professor during his/her scheduled office hours. If his/her office hours conflict with your classes, send an email requesting a meeting at a different time.