I actually pursued my undergraduate career with the intent of going into Forensics, specifically in the Biological Sciences division. I reached out to the experiential learning center because entry level positions in this field usually require at least one year of professional laboratory experience. I looked at every laboratory opportunity that would allow me to learn molecular techniques, and that’s when I discovered research positions at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. I was hesitant at first because I was not familiar with the research world, but reaching out to Patricia Ernst, PhD, professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, to learn more about it was one of the best decisions I made as an undergraduate. What were you doing before the research position?
My only prior experiential learning experience was a semester-long co-op program in a commercial lab.
What did you get out of the research experience?
I learned essential molecular biology skills such as PCR, RT-PCR, mice genotyping, aseptic techniques involving cell culture, molecular cloning, DNA purification, and western blotting. Having a hands-on experience with these techniques challenged me to identify and solve problems in the laboratory with appropriate and effective methods. I also had the chance to contribute to a Cancer Cell paper and present a poster in the
2017 Research and Creative Activities Symposium. How have you grown as a professional?
My experience as a research laboratory assistant has not only taught me essential molecular biology techniques, but also effective writing, organization, presentation, communication, and planning skills.
Do you have a story that stands out to you during your experience?
Not a specific story, but what stood out to me the most was how willing everyone in the lab was to train and guide me. They made the biggest difference in my experience here.
What is your plan now? How did your experience help lead you to that?
This research experience really opened up my mind to the different types of career opportunities out there that still fall within my interests. I am in the process of exploring career opportunities in medical research, public health research, and forensic science. Working as a research laboratory assistant provided the building blocks I need to pursue these careers.
Who helped you throughout obtaining and participating in the research?
I obtained this research position with the help of the
Experiential Learning Center staff and the internship opportunity website they provided. During my time here, the entire Ernst laboratory, which consists of Dr. Ernst, Postdoctoral Researchers, Professional Research Assistants, and Ph.D. candidates all had a hand in training me and providing me with guidance. Why would you recommend research experiences to future students?
Partaking in research is an exciting and stimulating experience with endless creative possibilities. Even if you don’t end up pursuing research, the lessons and professional skills you learn along the way will help you in any job you end up pursuing.
What advice do you have for future students interested in doing research?
Look into all of the different types of research opportunities listed on the website provided by the experiential learning center. If you’re not interested in any of the positions listed on the website, you can directly contact the PI of a lab you are interested in. Keep in mind that every lab will have a different research focus as well as different expectations from undergraduates. You should be willing to learn every day and have self-motivation because your experience is what you make of it.
Guest contributor: Lesley Bishop, assistant director, Experiential Learning Center