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Undergrad Research

  1. Jul 21, 2008 #1
    I'll be a freshman in the fall studying physics, math, and astronomy. A guy from my old HS is a master's degree student at my university, and he hooked me up with a job in an experimental particle physics lab. Basically he said that it's up to me to talk to grad students and professors and figure out something to do if I want to do research in addition to getting paid to just sit around. I'd like to get into a prestigious grad school, so does anyone have suggestions for how to use this opportunity to start doing research ASAP? Thanks!
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  3. Jul 21, 2008 #2


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    Ask someone in the lab if there is some project where they need an extra hand. (There definitely will be.) You may need to spend time learning new skills, such as programming before you can make a big contribution, but don't be discouraged by that. The fact that you'll be working in a physics lab from day 1 of your college career puts you ahead of most people in your position.
  4. Jul 21, 2008 #3


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    If you're just starting research now, you probably won't have time to do anything too special before the Fall semester starts. However, you should go see your supervisor, and have him tell you about his research, and tell him you'd like to participate / learn more about it. You'll probably be doing about half reading, half learning about the experiments being done, the instruments used, etc. And talk to as many people as you can, as they might be hiring in future terms.
  5. Jul 21, 2008 #4
    How much experience do you have in something like computer programming or using tools? You don't know much about physics yet (I'm just guessing based on you just starting college), but you might be able to help out with some programming or if they need something built.
  6. Jul 21, 2008 #5


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    They're not going to expect you to pick up your own research project at this point. Talk to the people in the lab about joining their group for the year, and see what you can do for them. At the least, you could probably learn how to run samples or something similar (remembering all the condensed matter talks I've ever heard). Take a computer science course this year if you haven't already.
  7. Jul 28, 2008 #6
    I was a computer technician for two years in HS, so I'm quite proficient with computers. I'm not comfortable writing code from scratch, but I'm usually able to modify code if I need to change something small-ish. Is this level of proficiency useful, or is it more all-or-nothing with programming?
  8. Jul 28, 2008 #7
    I was wondering what the best method would be to approach a Professor about volunteering in their lab or volunteering at some hospitals or other labs outside school. I am in my second year and I will only now (my school wasted my first year due to it being purely general) learn about methods and techniques used in my career most probably.

    Should I ask for an appointment to speak with them, should I try and find work like this only during the summer or would during school year be great as well.
  9. Jul 28, 2008 #8


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    Just send em an email and tell then what you're looking for. If you don't mind working for free during the year, I'm sure someone will want to have you (hey, everyone likes free labour).
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