27 February 2008

Research like a rock star

Brian May poster
I've written before about Brian May, so it was inevitable that he would show up on a recruitment poster.

25 February 2008

Pull it together!

Time is almost up... the deadline for REU applications is this Friday!

Talk to potential mentors if you haven't done so, and remember to have two letters of recommendation sent to Zen Faulkes in the Department of Biology.

23 February 2008

To boldly split infinitives

I cannot win with posters this year. My Pirates poster has been stolen twice now. And when I put this one up, someone wrote on it to point out the split infinitive.

"To boldly go."

Sheesh. Do people not recognize the quote? Perhaps some people need a refresher in classic TV intros.

Also, check out Futurama Math for more geek goodness.

Speaking of which, I'll bet there are projects in the REU program that wouldn't mind having a math major to help with a research project. You don't have to be a biology major to be in this REU program.

22 February 2008

Referee choice

RefereeAnother common question this year has been, "Who should I get to write recommendation letters?"

I can't speak for other programs, but in ours, there really is only one requirement: That your referee know you.

Now, that said, if you think about it, there are some characteristics that are going to be desirable for a recommendation letter.

Since research positions like our REU program are, fundamentally, academic positions, you want to have someone who can address your ability to learn and your learning style. Your referee might want to answer questions like whether you are a quick study or Whether you need a lot of guidance. Whether you learn better in groups or if you prefer to work independently. Your referee might also want to place your academic work in context. In some classes, many students get As, but in others, very few get As. Or perhaps you got a B or a C, but you just missed the dividing line by a point or two, as opposed to scraping by near the bottom range for that letter grade.

Second, since research work is work, you also want someone who can address your ability to work with others. So, generally, you want someone who has supervised you in some way in task-oriented situations. This might be volunteer work, work for pay, or academic classes.

In many cases, professors are good choices for writing recommendation letters.

Sometimes, teaching assistants can write helpful letters of recommendation, as they have more face-to-face interactions with students than in a lecture setting with a professor. Teaching assistants also get to see how you handle equipment and your lab technique.

The one thing you probably don't want, though, is a letter from your mother. We're sure your mom is nice and all, but she's your mom. She has to like you.

19 February 2008

This blog takes no position on whether pirates or ninja are cooler

Why researchers are like ninja
Another variation on the riff started in the stolen poster.

15 February 2008

Mentor choice

A very common question asked by students interested in our program is, "Who would I work for?"

In our program -- and, I believe, most programs -- that is largely up to the student. We have a list of mentors who participate in the program, and there is a spot on the application form that asks who you are interested in working with.

A few tips.

First, talk to possible mentors. Remember, the mentors are involved in the selection process that determines who goes into the program. You want to introduce yourself and try to have them on your side before you submit your application. It's even better if you get to know them well enough that they will be one of the people providing you with a letter of recommendation.

Second, try to find a happy medium in indicating who you want to work with. If you select only one mentor, you're really limiting yourself. If another student wants to work with that mentor, you could cut yourself out of the program if you leave no other choice. On the other hand, it doesn't look good if you check the boxes for every mentor, either. That just makes you look like you're complete adrift and have no idea what it is you're interested in.

Finally, keep an open mind. Just because you might be interested in ultimately doing research on, say, polar bear ecology, do not think, "Oh, nobody works on polar bear ecology, so I shouldn't apply." Even if no one works on polar bear ecology, maybe there's someone working on ecology. There's always stuff to learn that can be applicable to later study and research, particularly if you go on to graduate school.


Got a talent for dissection?
After the first Johnny Depp poster was popular enough to have been stolen less than 24 hours after I put it up, I made another. It's only a little twisted...

14 February 2008

STEP-UP Summer Research

STEP-UP logoThe institution: Various. The research experience is provided nationally by experienced investigators in their laboratories for 8 to 10 consecutive weeks during the summer. Students are with a research mentor at their choice of a research institution when possible.

The program:
  • Research in areas of diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism, nutrition, obesity, digestive, liver, urologic, kidney, and hematologic diseases

  • Ten to twelve weeks of basic or clinical research education and training provided by experienced faculty

  • Student participation allowance and housing allotment ($4000)

  • Education-related expenses fee provided to the research mentor

  • All travel expenses to the Annual Undergraduate Research Training Symposium in May and the Annual Undergraduate Scientific Session and Research Presentations in August at the NIH

  • Limited housing is available under special circumstances (paid from the student's participation allowance)
  • Undergraduate students who have completed at least one year at an accredited institution

  • U.S. Citizens, non-citizen nationals, or legal permanent residents
Deadline: 1 March 2008

More information: http://stepup.niddk.nih.gov/

13 February 2008

C is for...

Well, I hear choirs of angels when I have a good cookie...

12 February 2008

Apply now!

The online application form is ready for this year. Click here to apply.

Darwin, young researcher

Happy Darwin Day!

In keeping with one of the recurring themes of this blog, Darwin was only about 22 when he set off on the H.M.S. Beagle on a trip around the world. The trip would make him famous for his book, Voyage of the Beagle.

The picture shows Darwin in 1840, several years after the Beagle voyage.

11 February 2008

All this and beauty too...

Hedy Lamarr
I love showing people who have done research, but that you would never expect it from...

Student profile: Claudia Tamez

Claudia TamezWhat is your project about?

My project consists of several studies centered around the rare native water lily of South Texas, Nymphaea elegans. In normal instances, pollen is washed off pollinators. The fluid bath secreted by N. elegans routinely causes pollinators to drown. From one of my studies, I hope to conclude that larger flowers have a higher capacity for fluid thus increasing the rate at which pollinators are sacrificed by the flowers for pollination. Also, Dr. McDonald and I are currently preparing to construct a temporary study site on campus to observe pollinator preference for flower color and pollinator visitation rates.

What have you learned or enjoyed so far?

I have enjoyed very much my actual physical field work. I am very grateful to be working with a flower so exquisite. I absolutely love when I am surrounded by thousands of beautiful N. elegans flowers in the middle of nowhere; it's absolutely tranquil.

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to another awesome flowering season and great results to enable me to publish substantial information for future studies on Nymphaea elegans.

Supervisors: Anita Davelos Baines and Andrew McDonald

09 February 2008

Read all about it

Paperboy recruiting poster
I found this article when I went to the Society for Neuroscience meeting. The hotel I was in delivered free newspapers on weekdays.

08 February 2008

And really bad eggs...

Jack Sparrow
My favourite recruitment poster so far this year. And, apparently, everyone elses. I wasn't even done putting it up before I heard someone behind me laughing at the first tagline.

07 February 2008

Not too clever

This will be one of the first recruitment posters, which I hope to print today. Sometimes, what's going on in the office sort of bleeds onto the page...

05 February 2008

Maryland Sea Grant summer research

Maryland Sea GrantThe institution: Maryland Sea Grant, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

The Program:
  • 18 May to 10 August 2008

  • $4200 stipend plus housing, travel to and from site
Deadline: 29 February 2008

More information: http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/REU

02 February 2008

Texas A&M Kingsville Citrus Center internship

The institution: Texas A&M Kingsville Citrus Center, Weslaco, Texas

The program:
  • Learn to operate lab equipment, perform molecular biology techniques

  • $8 / hour
Requirements: Be a UTPA student enrolled in biology classes; ability to lift 25 lbs.

Deadline: None; open until filled

More information: Email e-louzada@tamu.edu

Louisiana State University summer research

LSU research conferenceThe institution: Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The program:
  • Individual research with mentors

  • $3,500 stipend, with housing provided

  • Course credit

  • 2 June to 1 August 2008
Requirements: Life Sciences or Chemistry Major, 3.0 GPA, have completed Introductory Biology & Chemistry

Deadline: 13 February 2008

More information: http://www.biology.lsu.edu/hhmiprog/undergrad/

Committee on Institutional Cooperation summer research

The institutions: Many across the midwest! The institutions include University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, Indiana University, Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Whew!

The program:
  • Faculty mentoring in all fields of study

  • 8 to 10 weeks

  • $2,000-$4,000 stipend, housing and travel paid
Deadline: 10 February 2008

More information: http://www.cic.net/programs/SROP/

01 February 2008

University of Texas LSAMP summer research

The institution: All of The University of Texas system and 8 regional community college districts

The program:
  • Work alongside nationally- and internationally-recognized professors

  • $2,500 stipend, travel funds, on-campus housing allowance
Deadline: 15 February 2008

More information: http://research.utep.edu/Default.aspx?alias=research.utep.edu/lsamp

University of Arkansas Carver summer research

The institution: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

The program:
  • Individual research with mentors

  • Competitive stipend, with room, board, and travel costs provided

  • May to July 2008
Requirements: Completed 60 undergraduate credit hours, 3.0 GPA

Deadline: 3 March 2008

More information: http://carver.uark.edu