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Advice for high schooler working in research lab?

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Next week my daughter (grade 11) will be starting work in the research lab of a biology professor at the university where she is dual enrolled. If all goes well, she will be able to continue through the next two years until she graduates high school. It sounds like in the beginning she will be working more with the PI, who wants her to start this summer because he is more available; I expect that later she may be working more with his grad students.

Does anyone have advice for her on interacting with the PI and PhD students, what to do/not do in order to integrate well into the lab, etc.? When she asked the professor, he said "communication and responsibility--be there when you say you will, and if you're not sure about something, always ask, don't guess." I thought that was great, but wanted to see if any of you had anything to add.

She has taken two semesters of biology for science majors at the university, but this will be her first time in a research lab. We are excited for the opportunity, as she is interested in pursuing a career in biological or biomedical research.

Research in the lab involves evolutionary genetics and genomics of flour beetles and horned beetles.

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Welcome to the forums! 

Unsurprisingly, the PI's advice was exactly what I was going to suggest. I can't stress communication enough. The PI, as well as everyone else in the lab, will understand that your daughter is a HS student and thus will need a bit of hand holding in the lab. Ask questions early and often if there is something that isn't clear. Most likely there will be a simple answer, and the 30 seconds used for asking the question is much better than potentially wasting reagents. 

I would suggest to your daughter that she keeps detailed notes of exactly what she does in the lab regarding experiments. Keeping a thorough lab notebook is a great habit to get into, and will help troubleshoot when things don't go as planned. 

 

 

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Thanks! Now that you mention it, I remember him telling her that if she wasn't there and he needed to know what she had been doing, he should be able to know by looking at her lab notebook.

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My first exposure to research was through a summer internship at a local medical school when I was in 11th grade. It was a great experience, and it supported my decision to pursue a career in research. I'm happy to hear that more students are experiencing this kind of opportunity. 

Tell your daughter to listen and learn. Pay attention to everything. Watch the graduate students and post-docs. Observe the PI and the lab culture. Yes, try to do good research and follow directions, but focus more on absorbing everything in sight. This is a great opportunity for her to get a good recommendation letter for university, but most importantly this is a great opportunity for her to experience real research and decide if this is something she can see herself doing as a career

I did research in high school, then four years in college, and now I'm in a PhD program, so feel free to PM if you would like to know more about my experience or how I used that experience to get to where I am now. 

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3 hours ago, blc073 said:

 this is a great opportunity for her to experience real research and decide if this is something she can see herself doing as a career

I did research in high school, then four years in college, and now I'm in a PhD program, so feel free to PM if you would like to know more about my experience or how I used that experience to get to where I am now. 

This is the primary reason as far as I'm concerned!

I'll PM you.

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