One of my main goals heading into college, along with a lot of other prospective freshmen, was to do research. However, this seemed pretty unattainable, at least until I was an upperclassmen with more experience. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I ended up getting a research position in  Biomedical Engineering lab my second semester of freshman year, and I’m writing this blog to let you know how you can do it too.

I work in the LLSE!

I actually tried to get research for my first semester of freshman year, but when I emailed the professors that I was interested in, they all responded that their labs were full. My tip #1 is to email labs much before the semester begins to ensure that they have research assistant positions open. For me, I emailed during winter break, before spring semester began. Tip #2 is email all of the labs that look interesting to you, even if they aren’t in your major! Not all of the professors will reply and some won’t have openings. Give yourself the biggest pool possible. Also, applying for labs slightly outside of your comfort zone or major can give you an opportunity to find a new field that you could love! Tip #3 is that you don’t need a lot of experience, you just need a willingness to learn and time to dedicate to your research. In my interviews for two labs, I was mostly asked about how much time I could put into being in the lab and doing training. They don’t expect you to know everything!

I take cool images of tissue strips on a fancy microscope

Now that I got my position, I’m being trained by a graduate student who is super awesome and patient while teaching me how to do all of the lab procedures. I do things like stain cells, take images using several fancy microscopes, and analyze data using software like MATLAB. The graduate students and the main faculty trusted me from day one to use the big equipment, and I’m learning so much about how I can apply what I learn in my classes to doing this innovative research. This summer I’m going to continue doing my research full time, and I am looking to stay in this lab for all four years of school because I love it so much! Doing research was once a dream, and now I’m living it as a freshman.

P.S: My lab’s website is super cool, check it out. Also, learn more about other VSA’s experiences with research on this page.

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Celeste Goodwin

Celeste Goodwin

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2020 HOMETOWN: San Pedro, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers