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Let’s Talk Research

November 7, 2022

A life science student's aspiration is to conduct research that is important to them. However, I believe that many individuals do not grasp the pathway in doing so, so I wanted to share some tips for making the most of your research experience and some things to keep in mind when considering this field of study.

What is research really like?

It is exhilarating and fun, but it is more of a marathon than a sprint. Most people have no idea what research is like because it is portrayed as glamorous, yet it necessitates hard work, long hours, and commitment.

It takes an independent approach where you are instructed on what to do, and from there, you are expected to take a self-directed approach to accomplish the goals. 

This is not to argue that analysis should be seen negatively, but keep this in mind, especially if you enjoy structure. 

The reason for this self-directed approach is to think about it. The researchers themselves have no idea what they will discover. They know what they are searching for, yet you have those rare moments where you do not see what is coming. Otherwise, we would've found the cure to many diseases in a short, linear process, but clearly, that isn't the way it is

Ways to Get Involved:

  • Research in Bioscience courses
    • You can enroll in these courses if you can connect with a professor willing to take you on for the school year.
    • Seats are limited! It is competitive, so a great GPA is definitely helpful and a strong reason you are interested in it. 
  • Undergraduate Research Awards
    • You can apply for the NSERC USRA or STAR awards
    • These are intensively GPA-based awards; therefore, keep this in mind when using!
  • Optional Research Studies
    • Once in a while, you will receive emails outlining research studies that are being conducted. You can participate in these by contacting the supervisor coordinating it. 


  • Looking back on my undergraduate courses, I remember all the scientific methods I learned about and greatly appreciate them. The problem isn't that we often fail to pay attention or take these lessons seriously; learning about something abstractly differs from real-world experience. So be sure to "understand" exactly what you are learning, and feel free to go on YouTube and watch demonstrations.
  • Have an open mind. You limit yourself when you feel you can't do it or achieve your desired goals. 
  • Persistence is key. If something doesn't work once, try, try again! 
  • Ask for help when needed. You aren't expected to know everything, so don't sit there confused and scared to ask for help for fear of guilt or shame! Let your supervisor know what isn't making sense; they will be happy to assist you and glad you are taking an interest.
  • Make the most of your undergraduate lab courses!