How I got involved with research! (and how you can too!)

Hi (again)! This is my second blog post and I will be talking about how to get involved with research at Pitt. If you want to read more about me, and my general experience with research you can find my first blog post here.

It is actually super easy to join a lab at Pitt. I joined a research lab (Hooks Lab @ PittMed) before I even set foot on campus. I knew I was going to major in neuroscience and wanted to do neuroscience research. A month before fall semester started freshman year, I emailed ten faculty from the neuroscience webpage with a resume and a short description about myself. This was summer 2020 – peak COVID – so a lot of PIs were hesitant to add a new member to their lab. Luckily, 2-3 people responded saying they would be more than happy to have me in their lab and I set up meetings to discuss further details. After meeting with everyone, I chose to work with Mac Hooks in his lab because I felt his research focus best suited my academic goals. I think when choosing a lab there are a few considerations to make:

  1. Am I interested in this research? 
  2. Will the PI be a good mentor for my career path? 
  3. How large of a role will I have in the lab? (conducting research projects mostly independently vs. doing grunt work)

For anyone looking to join a lab at Pitt, it is really easy. Just reach out to who you want to work with! Pitt is a top 10 NIH funded institution and receives hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for research so there are hundreds of labs you can choose from. If you are unsure of what type of research you want to conduct, you can take the one credit First Experiences in Research class or the University Honors Research Orientation class. Both classes will expose you to many fields of research and will potentially connect you with people you may want to work with. 

If you are a STEM major, research will be important for graduate school and can potentially set you apart from other candidates. Personally, research has allowed me to learn more about the field of medicine and has allowed me to gain insight into the scientific process. I know that I will have to conduct research in medical school, and so it is important to me to learn these skills beforehand. 

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