As we are already past the halfway mark for this semester and approaching the reading week, quite a few events were organised by some research groups at the University. These were specially arranged to share the prospective research areas for Honour’s Project for third-year students.
I attended two of these – one organised by MRC PPU and the other by the James Hutton Institute. Both events involved different PIs/ post-docs representing their lab and research interest in an informal discussion session. So, we were informed of their lab’s current research interests and the potential skills we could explore during our project. Following this, we also got to ask any questions we might have face to face – something that has become more valuable after the COVID-19 years. And so, here are a few tips for such ‘open days’!
- No questions are silly – take the initiative to talk! Since you are an undergraduate, you have a fresh perspective on things; hence, no question is silly. Don’t be afraid to ask a genuine question.
- Do a little homework! Since you are approaching a PI/ lab representative to discuss a potential project, read a little about their lab and work. Explore their latest papers. If you can, develop a research question based on their work that you might want to explore in their lab. This is a good way to understand their work, and it also helps to show your enthusiasm.
- Talk to a post-doc/ PhD student in their lab! Apart from the scientific stuff, you also need to try to understand the work culture in that lab, as it will be part of your course for at least two months. And the best way to understand the lab culture is through the post-docs or PhD students. So remember to approach them!
And above all, be genuinely interested in the research area in which you are trying to find a project; spend some time understanding your inclination instead of hustling. I hope these small tips help! Thank you for reading! Happy reading week!