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Stem Cell Essay Contest: $50 prize & essay is published via @pknoepfler

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

On the stem cell blog of the  Knoepfler lab, there is an exciting competition:

Want to win $50 and become a published author?

Enter the Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog Essay Contest.

The challenge?

Write a no more than 500 word, convincing, non-fiction essay on stem cells thinking entirely outside the box.

Otherwise, the angle you take is totally up to you.

Surprise me.

Make me think.

There will be two winners.

Category 1 = age 18 or younger

Category 2 = age 19 or older

Prizes?

The winners will each get two prizes.

1) you will get a $50 iTunes gift card

AND

2) you will have you essay published on this website for 1,000s of the top scientists, patient advocates, grant funders, politicians, and educators in the world interested in stem cells to read. Talk about potentially opening doors and a great thing to put on your resume/CV or college application too.

Rules (read carefully).

Essays over 500 words will not be considered.

References/citations of other papers (if you choose to have any, limit of 5) do not count toward the word limit.

Fictional essays will not be considered.

The sole judge will be me and all decisions final.

No plagiarism.  No personal attacks, no obscenities, and especially no boring essays.

In the event of a tie for any given age category, each of the tied winners for a given age group will get a $25 gift card and both will be published.

With your entry, tell me whether you are in category 1 or 2, otherwise your essay will not be considered. With your essay you must supply a statement indicating your name, your age, your mailing address for the prize, and your email address as well as a statement agreeing to have your essay published on this website. Essays lacking this info or statement will not be considered.

Deadline. June 30, 2012. No exceptions.

Entries must be emailed to me at: knoepfler@ucdavis.edu

Only one entry per person (those sending more will be disqualified).

No members of the Knoepfler Lab are eligible of course.

If you want to stay up to date with the work of the Knoepfler lab, you can follow dr. Paul Knoepfler on twitter too.

Categories: Lab Profiles, UC Davis

Rotation Tips For 1st Years

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

The rotation system is an awesome way to familiarize incoming students with the incredible variety of research happening in the BMCDB graduate group,  but what’s the best way to get more out of your rotation experience? We drafted a set of questions and asked faculty what they thought. Here are some more honest and straightforward answers from PIs who are funded and currently looking for students.

1. What do you think makes for a successful rotation?

Kentaro Inoue-Don’t focus too much on accomplishing a given project. Try to spend as much time as possible in the lab. Ask questions.

Georgia Drakakaki-A process in which the student has the opportunity to fully interact with the members of the lab that is rotating in. More importantly the student gets involved in a representative project and is able to form hypothesis driven scientific questions.

W.Heyer-Getting to know the student, personally and his intellectual and practical abilities.

F.McNally-There has to be a simple project that answers a question or tests a hypothesis. All the reagents have to exist before the rotation starts. There has to be someone in the lab that can help the rotation student get started on day one. Ideally the rotation student will have a discussion with the PI at least once a week and interact with other members of the lab on a daily basis.

J.Nunari-A rotation is successful when the student is fully engaged and excited about the science they are doing.

S.Chan-A well chosen project with achievable goals is helpful. If the student works with another grad student or postdoc, that relationship is important.

2. What can a student do to maximize their rotation experience, in terms of research, and for getting a sense of the lab’s culture.

Kentaro Inoue-Do some “background search” about the lab (research, graduates from it, etc) and come up with 3-6 specific questions. Ask these questions to the professor and people in the lab.

Georgia Drakakaki-To be involved scientifically in the project and not only to obtain practical experience.

W.Heyer-Ask questions and engage.

F.McNally-You need to be in the lab when the current lab members are in the lab. If the lab goes home at 6:00 PM and you
start your day at 5:00 PM, it won’t work out well.

J.Nunari-Socialize with people in the lab to get a good sense of culture. In terms of research, the students should discuss what they are doing with people in the lab and the PI.

S.Chan-Attend lab meeting and journal club, and generally immerse her/himself in the lab by spending lots of time there. PIs may be busy, so don’t be afraid to chase them down when you have even the smallest hints of data.

3. As a student, what is the best way to approach you (as a PI) about joining your lab?

Kentaro Inoue-The door of my office is always open (except when I make exams and change clothes, and of course when I am not here). Come in and talk. (email would also work, of course)

Georgia Drakakaki-All forms of communication are ok. Pi’s are very positive on possible rotations. The student by no means should hesitate to contact any PI.

W.Heyer-Make an appointment by email.

F.McNally-Email asking for an appointment to talk to me. Using pubmed to find the most recent papers from
my lab and reading them before the appointment will raise my opinion of you by a lot.

J.Nunari-With enthusiasm.

S.Chan-Nowadays I am very selective. Students should send an email with their CV well before the rotation begins, so we can talk about the possibility before the deadline for choices.

4. Do you have any words of wisdom for the first years who are currently choosing their next rotations?

Kentaro Inoue-Keep options open. Talk to professors and students. Research questions often evolve, and so do your interests.

Georgia Drakakaki-If they are in doubt the students should contact the PI before they make a decision. They can provide more information about the projects and the research provided in the lab.

W.Heyer-Follow your interests.

F.McNally-Not really. I think first years are going to do what they want to do with or without my words of wisdom.

J.Nunari-Don’t worry about the specific research area. Go for good training and environment.

S.Chan-Your relationship with the PI is the most important thing, as lab members and projects may change during the course of your PhD. Remember that PIs have choices and many could prefer postdocs to graduate students. You can increase your chances of getting into a lab by working extremely hard and showing your intellectual curiosity. Asking lots of questions is good, because no-one should expect a first year graduate student to know everything about the field they are entering into.

 

Rotation Pro Tips For 1st Years

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

The rotation system is an awesome way to familiarize incoming students with the incredible variety of research happening in the BMCDB graduate group. Trying out a lab for 5 weeks can be a great learning experience for new graduate students, but it is also very difficult in many respects. As a new BMCDB student you are still getting acquainted with the expectations of graduate school, classes,  new surroundings, and the lingering imposter feeling. Rotations are a great place to show your stuff and impress your potential PI, however 5 weeks isn’t much time to get anything monumental accomplished. Work hard, listen well, be realistic, and remember your ultimate goal is to find a home for the next ~5-6 years. Keep financial issues in mind when seeking out your rotations, it is important to join a lab where you will be supported.

We drafted a set of questions and asked faculty what they thought. Here are some honest and straightforward answers from PIs who are currently looking for students.

1. What do you think makes for a successful rotation?

WH-Getting to know the student, personally and his intellectual and practical abilities.

FM-There has to be a simple project that answers a question or tests a hypothesis. All the reagents have to exist before the rotation starts. There has to be someone in the lab that can help the rotation student get started on day one. Ideally the rotation student will have a discussion with the PI at least once a week and interact with other members of the lab on a daily basis.

JN-A rotation is successful when the student is fully engaged and excited about the science they are doing.

SC-A well chosen project with achievable goals is helpful. If the student works with another grad student or postdoc, that relationship is important.

 

2. What can a student do to maximize their rotation experience, in terms of research, and for getting a sense of the lab’s culture.

WD-Ask questions and engage.

FM-You need to be in the lab when the current lab members are in the lab. If the lab goes home at 6:00 PM and you
start your day at 5:00 PM, it won’t work out well.

JN-Socialize with people in the lab to get a good sense of culture. In terms of research, the students should discuss what they are doing with people in the lab and the PI.

SC-Attend lab meeting and journal club, and generally immerse her/himself in the lab by spending lots of time there. PIs may be busy, so don’t be afraid to chase them down when you have even the smallest hints of data.

3. As a student, what is the best way to approach you (as a PI) about joining your lab?

WD-Make an appointment by email.

FM-Email asking for an appointment to talk to me. Using pubmed to find the most recent papers from
my lab and reading them before the appointment will raise my opinion of you by a lot.

JN-With enthusiasm.

SC-Nowadays I am very selective. Students should send an email with their CV well before the rotation begins, so we can talk about the possibility before the deadline for choices.

 

4. Do you have any words of wisdom for the first years who are currently choosing their next rotations?

WD-Follow your interests.

FM-Not really. I think first years are going to do what they want to do with or without my words of wisdom.

JN-Don’t worry about the specific research area. Go for good training and environment.

SC-Your relationship with the PI is the most important thing, as lab members and projects may change during the course of your PhD. Remember that PIs have choices and many could prefer postdocs to graduate students. You can increase your chances of getting into a lab by working extremely hard and showing your intellectual curiosity. Asking lots of questions is good, because no-one should expect a first year graduate student to know everything about the field they are entering into.