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University of Nebraska-Lincoln REU - advice?

  1. Apr 1, 2015 #1
    Hi there PF,
    I've been accepted to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's REU program, with my adviser being Dr. Angela Pannier. The project is: Nanostructured Thin Films as Biomaterial Interfaces for Enhanced Substrate-mediated Gene Delivery
    I'm a physics major, and DNA is not my thing, really (wondering why I was put on that project, honestly! I wanted to work on their high efficiency organic solar cells project), but I've definitely wanted to work with thin films. I wanted to ask for advice, as this is my first REU.
    1) In an REU (whether it be this topic or not), how much do I actually learn about the topic/theory behind the project? Is it like taking a class just on it, or much more than that?
    2) This is going to involve a lot of lab work, especially in stuff I'm not used to. Should I try to get a grad student at my home institution to show me the ropes? I've been offered the chance, but I don't want to learn something that may be, in fact, the opposite of what the lab at UNL does.
    3) Even though this isn't in my top field of interest, should I treat it like it is? Read up on the theory, pretend it's exactly what I want to do later on while I'm doing it? I think I could, and I'd excel, but the other option is to try and work on parts of the project that I can integrate or even relate to what my main interests are.
    4) How much should I stay in contact after the REU?
    5) If anyone knows Dr. Pannier, is there anything in particular I should pay attention to or do with her?

    And any advice for a first-timer REU participant would be great! Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2015 #2

    Quantum Defect

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    Homework Helper
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    1. You will be doing laboratory research. This will not be like classes.
    2. More than likely, yes. Probably the best thing to do is to contact the advisor and ask for some papers, etc. to read to help you hit the ground running. More than likely, she will plan on pairing you up with a graduate student or post-doc in her lab, and this will provide her with the opportunity to introduce you to whomever that is. Read the material (most likely papers from her group). if you have questions to ask, you should go ahead and ask. The advisor should be happy that you are planning for the summer.
    3. Do as best as you can do. I think that the topic is broad enough that the group working on it will be quite diverse, background-wise. You will leanr a lot. If you are engaged, you might help them solve a problem that nobody in the lab has the background to solve!
    4. You would definitely want to stay connected with the group and advisor. If you work your butt off, and are memorable in good ways (you don't want to be memorable in a bad way!) you will be able to get a strong letter from the advisor for graduate school, employment, afterwards.
    5. I know nothing about this professor.
  4. Apr 1, 2015 #3
    Hi Quantum Defect,
    Thank you for the reply!
    I've contacted the professor as advised, and she will be sending out materials to me and the other participants in a few weeks. I'm excited to have this opportunity!
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