Your Future in the Lab

PC: Kayla Potts

PC: Kayla Potts

Johnson, Erynn 080333.jpg

Do you ever wonder why professors created labs? Do you get easily frustrated by long lab lectures and experiments always going awry, wishing you could ditch the clunky lab goggles and make a run for it? There’s a solution to cure your lab-time doldrums: drop those sunshine, beach bum vacation plans and spend your summer in a lab! Okay, hopefully you haven’t stopped reading yet.  
I’ve experienced summer research at two different universities during my time as an undergraduate, and I’ve learned some invaluable lessons about the process. Research, be it in STEM, history, social science, medicine or even business can be a rewarding culture shock that relates academic learning to issues students care about. It involves a brand-new paradigm for learning, exploring and treating failure as progress. This scared me at first. 
I knew how to be a student – memorize facts, go to class, do my homework and take tests. I didn’t know how to switch mindsets and succeed as a researcher. 
Becoming more familiar with research reminded me how no one has it all figured out. You also get to  dive into topics you enjoy and learn enough in a few months to be considered an expert.
These undergraduate research opportunities pay you for learning, failing, persevering, making friendships and getting to bend the ears of some of the most brilliant minds you will ever meet (as well as scoring a great letter of recommendation later on). 
Consider letting summer research be that unexpected opportunity to open your mind to the great learning lessons of labs. You may get to use your creative skills to help a vast number of people or you may hate every day that you spend in the lab and still fight that urge to chuck your lab goggles across the room. Either way it’s bound to be an unforgettable experience. 
If you think research may be right for you or even if you’re on the fence, start looking for opportunities today. 
There are hundreds of programs across America at top-notch universities, and fantastic opportunities abroad, it’s also free to apply to nearly all of them! The time it takes to complete the applications is a learning experience for future job applications and further education. 
If you need more reasons to apply or have questions on how to get started, please contact me. 



1.    Pain, E. “Making your Summer Research Internship a Good One.” December 2008. Science Magazine Online.

2.    Association of American Medical Colleges. “Summer Undergraduate Research Programs”.

3.    National Science Foundation. “Research Experience for Undergraduates.”

4.    Pathway to Science. “Summer Research Opportunity.” site lets you browse over 650 summer research programs based on your interests and over 50 different majors in science, history, business, technology, social sciences, art, and more!)

5.    Euro Scholars. “EuroScholars Program”. is an opportunity for US undergraduates to study abroad in Europe for the summer. Search “summer research abroad” for research opportunities worldwide)

Erynn Johnson is a senior studying chemistry.