Adjusting to a new research setting

About the author: Keira is a rising high school senior at Newark Charter High School. She is a member of the basketball, lacrosse, and field hockey teams at her high school and been involved in research in the Killian Lab since February of 2017. She is part of the NIH NIDDK STEP-UP program and currently looking at the role of FGF signaling in kidney structure, function, and mineralization. 

In order to conduct successful research it is imperative for researchers to be:

  1. Confident in their skills
  2. Comfortable in their environment
  3. To learn skills necessary for success in the lab it is best to use the Ask, Listen, Watch, Do method.
    • Ask-Being new to a setting, you’ll need to be educated about things such as, how to use a tool or where chemicals are stored. Don’t be afraid to ask when confused, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Other than information concerning the lab setting; it is best to do literature reviews to gain a basic understanding of what research is conducted in the lab, to visit textbooks to learn about proper lab techniques, and if still confused then it is appropriate to ask those senior to you in the lab setting questions.
    • Listen– When you ask questions, you should listen attentively and take notes. Be sure to make either a mental or physical note of techniques etc. told to you by those senior to you in the lab. Even details that may seem trivial should be noted somewhere because if those details didn’t hold some importance, they would not be told to you.
    • Watch-You should volunteer to assist in others research on their terms to see techniques. Take notes about techniques and listen attentively. When being taught make sure to take thorough notes so when it comes time to replicate techniques, it can be done with ease
    • Do-Finally, try what you learned during your didactic training. This process can be the key to success in many aspects of your life including outside the lab.

Other helpful tips for success in the lab seeking include:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions when confused and always ask if anyone needs help
  • Be an active participant in the lab
  • Stay organized and keep a good notebook
  • Attend lab meetings,listen,and learn
  • Stay organized and keep a good lab notebook. In the event that you discover astonishing results, you’ll want someone else to be able to reproduce the results and to gain credit for your role in the discovery.

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