Interested in working in the Hood lab? Please contact Dr Hood well in advance of the semester that you are hoping to start. We often have a waiting list for fall and spring. Indeed, in early fall 2016, the soonest we are likely to be able accommodate students that aren't on the list is summer 2017.
The value of working in a lab as an undergraduate:
Working on a research project as an undergraduate can be a formative experience it can help you decide if a research based career is right for you and it can help you gain field, lab, and/or animal husbandry skills that may be valuable to you in the future. Most importantly, establishing a strong working relationship with faculty members and graduate students can ensure that those individuals will be happy to write letters of recommendation for you in the future. An exceptional letter of recommendation can help you to stand out in a pool of job or graduate school applications.
Requirements and expectations:
Undergraduate research should be taken just as seriously as any lecture or lab course that you take at Auburn. We accept volunteers but prefer that you sign up for research credit. If you sign up for research credit, you will be assigned a grade at the end of the semester based on 1) the quality of the data that you generate, 2) your reliability you show up to work on time, you complete the number of hours expected of you each week, you provide at least one week notice if you have a conflict, and missed days are kept minimal and 3) the completion and quality of your laboratory notebook and Microsoft excel database, as appropriate.
To gain BIOL4980 credit, students are expected to work approximately 5 hours per week for 2 credits, 7 hours per week for 3 credits, and 9 hours per week for 4 credits. There will be several ongoing research projects in the lab at any given time. You will be assisting with one or several of these projects. When we are maintaining research animals, the care of our animals and data collection from those animals is always our highest priority. It is essential that you understand the responsibility associated with animal care and handling. In the lab, you will learn basic laboratory techniques. This work can often be more tedious and mundane that handling animals; nevertheless, lab work is just as critically important to the success of our projects. Many of the samples collected and analyzed in the lab are irreplaceable and must be treated as such. Students are expected to take the care required to be sure that the data they are generating is accurate and precise.
Although gaining research experience can be extremely beneficial to your career development, it cannot replace poor or even mediocre performance in the classroom. When working in the Hood laboratory, you will be expected to maintain a strong academic record. Students with a GPA less than 3.0 will not be allowed to work in the Hood lab while taking classes. If at any point during the semester you are having trouble with your courses, please discuss ways to scale back your research responsibilities with Dr Hood.
Conducting your own project:
A great way to get even more from your research experience at Auburn is to conduct your own research project. This is a great resume builder for motivated students interested in careers in research. I believe students get the most out of conducting independent research by seeing a project through from design to completion. Some of these projects will produce publishable work. For those students who take on this challenge, Ill work with you through each step of the process. Students who are considering an independent project should work in the lab for a considerable period of time first (at least a year) to gain some basic skills, gain an understanding of the process of science, and become familiar with the capabilities of our laboratory. Next, they should discuss research options with Dr. Hood and apply for research funding. Auburn currently has two competitive undergraduate research funding programs through the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program and theOffice of the Vice President for Research. If funded, then the fun - and the hard work - begins.
Getting a strong letter:
Science magazine published an article for undergraduates working in labs that gives pointers on how to make sure that I can write a strong letter of recommendation for you: Getting a Great Recommendation Letter, Science Jun 27, 2016