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Training environment

September 9, 2011

I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation in the lab as – well I’m not sure exactly – but it hinges upon the fact that I am one of a minority of post-docs that will actually take on UROP students, and certainly the only one that has taken on more than one, let alone several, at a time.  I’ve gotten some flack about how I’m lucky to get only ‘good’ students, while other have gotten ‘bad’ ones.  Not all UROPs are going to do well in a lab, but I’m at a pretty fancy selective university and I’ve been consistently impressed at how motived these students are.  Some people are jealous, some wonder aloud if our PI realizes that I’m running my own lab out of my bay and accuse me of taking on PI-like traits (not knowing where things are on my own bench or not remembering whether I’ve told a student to do something or clearly remembering a result from eight months ago, but not what they showed me yesterday or sending cryptic experimental ideas at odd hours of the night). The honest truth is that I’m not special; every single full-time person in the lab could take on as many undergrads as they want.  The problem is advising someone well is not only a lot of work, but also a skill one must learn.  My approach to advising has improved dramatically in my time here.  And, it is one better learned while I’m running my lab out of my bay rather than when I’m running my lab out of an office.

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