1. I’d like to get involved in research but I don’t know how to get started. When should I start and how do I find a good lab?
Many BME students get involved in research as a way to find out if a lab career is right for them because they took a class with a professor and were interested in their work, or perhaps just to spruce up their résumé (though hopefully this is not the only reason). In any case, participating in research as an undergrad is a great experience that helps to translate course content to actual experiments and to gain skills in different laboratory techniques that come in handy for classes like BMED 3110 and 3610. Start by finding faculty in the BME department – or in other departments – whose work sounds interesting, reading some of their publications, and sending the faculty member a concise but descriptive email highlighting interest in their work and desire to get involved. It is best to email multiple researchers, but be sure to tailor each email as generic emails tend to get fewer responses. Also consider talking to professors after class or during office hours and seeing if they have any openings in their lab. Other undergrads or even graduate students (yes, they’re nice, friendly people even if they are working all the time) can also assist with getting a feel for what a lab is like or maybe even with becoming connected to a researcher in the lab who is looking for an undergraduate mentee. The key to finding a position is persistence!
2. Do the classes REALLY get harder like everyone says? Does it ever get easier?
Do you really want things to get easier? Students come to Georgia Tech to challenge yourself, and the fact that courses seem to – and do – get harder says a lot about the caliber of our BME program. However, the difficulty is almost always manageable. There are also plenty of resources available such as the Learning Commons, which is a great place to study and will soon have tutors available for most BME subjects. Furthermore, almost every class has a graduate or undergraduate TA in addition to professor’s office hours. As the curriculum progresses, wonderful BME comrades from all of those group projects will accumulate as well. One of the great things about BME is how we are able to work together to solve all sorts of problems, so try not to let the thought of tough classes ahead worry you!
3. When should I start making summer plans?
If you have not already, start thinking about it now! Many programs have deadlines in January or February, and you do not want to limit your options by getting started after Spring Break. There are all sorts of things one can spend the summer doing: classes at Tech, studying abroad, traveling, research, interning and sleeping (though try to make sure your summer does not solely consist of that last one). If you are thinking about going into industry, consider an internship, and go to the Spring Career Fair. Pre-meds can consider shadowing, a medical service trip, or working in a research lab. If none of these options sound appealing, try something else that sounds interesting! There are plenty of resources around to help find a fulfilling way to spend your summer, including Kim, Paul, and Sally in the academic office as well as upperclassmen who have already treaded the path you are on. In any case, do not delay!