Undergraduate research expectations

Mentoring undergraduate students, like you, is one of my favorite parts of being a professor. I take it very seriously—I became an ecologist because I had a wonderful mentor as an undergraduate, so I know this relationship can be very important. As such, I want to tell you what I expect you to get out of this experience, and what I expect of you if you do research in my lab. 

Here is what I hope that you will get out of doing research in my lab:

  • Experience doing real scientific research. In my lab, you will either be doing your own independent research project, or you’ll be working on one of my established research projects.
  • Tools to get you where you want to go. We’ll work on CV/Resume building and trying to get you experience in skills that you will need to get you where you may want to go.
  • Experience reading, interpreting, and communicating about scientific literature. We will frequently read scientific literature as a lab, and you will get lots of experience interpreting and discussing the literature.
  • Constructive but critical feedback on written work, progress on research, and career advice (if you want/need it).
  • Fun! I love doing ecological research. I hope you will, too. Even if you don’t, make the best of it, and try to have fun while

Here is what I expect from you:

  • Hard work and an open mind! The only way that any research project succeeds is through hard work. Things often don’t go according to plan when you are doing research. You need to have an open mind to problem solving as things inevitably go wrong. To me, this problem solving
  • Attend and prepare for weekly lab meetings (unless you have a conflict that we’ve discussed). We may discuss papers or you may be expected to have something done for lab meeting (drafts of a presentation, a CV written, etc).
  • Meet me when I expect you to meet me. I will set up a time to meet each student independently each week to check in, train you, give you comments on written materials, etc. If you can’t make this meeting, let me know ASAP.
  • Listen carefully to instructions, and follow them. Absorbing all the small details often requires taking notes when we talk!
  • Meet deadlines that we set for things that you are working on.
  • Open communication. If you have a problem, don’t know how to do something, need supplies, etc—please let me know! I am happy to help you succeed in any way that I can, but I don’t know that you need help if you don’t tell me.
  • Respect for everyone working in the lab. I will not tolerate disrespect towards me, or anyone else working in my lab (or anyone else you interact with while doing research).
  • After consulting with me, write a brief proposal (below) of what you will be doing this semester / summer, and stick to it! If you are receiving credit for this research, I expect that you will do exactly what we’ve agreed upon (but of course, I understand that these expectations may change during the course of your work) to receive credit. I, of course, understand that these expectations may change during the course of your work if research does not go according to plan, and we will discuss if these expectations change.

If it still sounds appealing to do research in my lab, please contact me to talk with me about potential projects.