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Should I leave?

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I also posted this in the lobby, but I thought maybe more people would see it here.



I would like peoples' opinions regarding the current predicament I have with the lab I have been working in since last summer.


I'm a sophomore undergraduate student studying chemistry, interested in eventually pursuing a PhD or MD/PhD. I'm working in a chemistry lab (pchem), and I really used to enjoy it, but now my research mentor is very busy and doesn't have anything for me to do any more. It's been this way starting at the end of last semester, but I was so busy at the end of the semester with finals and other things, that I didn't really mind when I would come in and she wouldn't have anything for me to do.


I feel like I'm wasting my time in this lab; I'm not working on anything. I feel like when I do get to do something, it's something very insubstantial and I don't know how to improve at anything if I have no opportunity to do so. I have expressed my concerns to my mentor but very lightly and it did not fully reflect how upset and miserable I am. For what I want to do, I need to show that I've been heavily involved in a project, maybe even published, but the way things seem to be going, I don't know if that will ever happen if I stay. My research mentor is very, very kind and I do not blame her at all, and she is a large part of why I would rather not leave.


However, after I voiced my concerns, she gave me something to do that is totally unrelated to what she's doing and isn't anything important - it is literally to keep me busy. Maybe I should be more grateful, but when I talk to my friends in other labs, even the other, newer undergrads in the lab, they seem like they have more to do and it's something that could be published. Even the lab's high school student has more to do than me.


Most people I've talked to think I should talk to the PI and leave. I really am pretty frustrated and I feel like I shouldn't be trying this hard when other people I know literally have projects handed to them after a semester of work. I don't even want my own project - I just want something to do that's actually useful.


TL;DR - I'm an undergraduate research assistant with little to no guidance. Should I leave and find a lab that will help me grow as a researcher or should I wait it out and hope it gets better?

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