After a theoretical first block, I chose a practical module for my D block. This module offers multiple practical projects, and depending on your degree routes, you are either provided with a plant science-based or biochemistry-based project. But if you already chose practical project A, then you will be given a bioinformatics-related project for this one.
Since I am on a Molecular Genetics degree route, I was given the biochemistry-based project. I thoroughly enjoyed my five weeks in the lab, accompanied with my learning curve. Here are a few tips for your time in the lab:
- Before I go to any essential tips, I recommend that you be patient with yourself and your lab partner, as both of you are on a learning curve. Read the protocol you need for the day and complete the calculations by discussing them with your lab partner in advance. This will reduce a lot of confusion.
- Remember that you and your lab partner are a team; if something does not work, it is a collective aim to resolve it – don’t passively point fingers! And if something does not work, don’t take it personally – step back and try and evaluate what could have gone wrong!
- I recommend being in the lab as soon as possible; all the needed information is pretty much there, and you and your lab partner need to devise a plan.
- During this plan, make sure you leave time for things not working. Till the second year, the protocols that undergraduates work with are relatively well-proofed to work, but this is the time when experiments will fail. It is a good thing because you need to learn how to work back and troubleshoot the source of this – but to do that, you need to keep some time to step back and bounce again.
- As part of your first-week task list – make sure you add the task of testing daily use equipment like pipettes to check that they dispense the right volume. Make this a habit whenever you enter any new lab.
- Another tip is to maintain your lab book and note even tiny things you may leave to memory because you will need all this during your project report writing stage.
- Although not directly related to this module, choose the second module for this block wisely as the lab-related module will demand a lot of work, and if both modules are heavy – finding a balance might get difficult.
Lastly, enjoy the five weeks you have in the lab with an exceptionally supportive team of demonstrators and technicians. Best of luck, and have fun!
Thank you for reading!