Undergrad in the Lab

It feels like just yesterday that I was attending Nipissing’s March Open House in my grade twelve year. I had received offers of admission from multiple schools, and it was time to make a decision as to where I would spend my next four years. When I attended the open house, I got the opportunity to speak with two professors in the biology department. I remember them telling me about the perks of small class sizes and the ability to study hands on in a natural environment, but looking back on this experience, the one thing I wish I had given more thought to was the abundance of research opportunities they claimed Nipissing had to offer. As a grade twelve student who was unsure of where she wanted to go in life, research was the last thing on my mind.
Luckily for me, I chose to complete my undergrad at Nipissing despite not considering one of the biggest pros the university had to offer. During my first year, my eyes were opened to all of the research avenues I could pursue. In my second year, I began volunteering in the neuroscience lab at Nipissing. Joining the lab was easy; I simply spoke to one of the lab directors, completed the required safety training, and shadowed some fellow lab members. I did not have to go through some lengthy application process of compete for a position against other students because researchers at Nipissing are always looking for extra help.

While my time spent in the lab is unpaid, the skills I have learned are payment enough. The experience I have gained gives me a competitive edge over students who may not have had the same kinds of research opportunities. As a student who is hoping to get a job or continue my schooling after I graduate, just like anyone who attends university, any sort of advantage I can get is beneficial.

If the scientific method isn’t for you, don’t feel left out. You can get involved in research no matter the program you’re in. You can help a professor write a book, write a paper on a historic event, or analyze policies for a business project. Showing initiative and learning how to think critically while you read and write about topics that inspire you will be skills that will benefit you wherever you head in life.