So this is what she sent me:

i emailed a caltech neurobio prof, dr. X, and he emailed me back and wants to meet me, im visiting him on june 16...i went through this sort of thing with ucla and stuff but this time i'm sooo nervous because he's a caltech prof and caltech is caltech...do you have any tips for me?

So my general suggestion to her is this: show that you can do something that can reduce the time load on his research (which is pretty much what all PhD/UG/HS research is about) - you want to do things that the professor wants to do but doesn't want to spend the time on, although some professors might be willing to "waste" a little time mentoring high school students and undergrads.

he already asked me what lab and general knowledge i know i told him i know gel electrophoresis, pcr, restriction endonuclease digestions, immunohistochemistry, and some basic cell culture techniques and that i learned some basic neuroscience neuroanatomy and neurohistology and how to read fmri images through the us nat'l brain bee competition

I also suggested this: when making a list of your skills, show - don't just tell (although this is really hard for many high school students since they haven't had the chance to show yet). Professors are used to people who claim to know more than they really know.


What are some other general suggestions that can be helpful to high school students who are trying to do research with specific professors? Generalizable cases are fine - as I do get quite a few emails from high school students who want to seek my advice on how to get research with a professor.

1 Answer 1


As a HS student visiting a lab, a willingness to do some of the "grunt" work in exchange for a chance to do "real" research is helpful. Being able, and willing, to do literature searches on a database (e.g., pubmed), to download easy to get papers, and go to the library to get hard to find papers papers is really useful for a lab. Most researchers would happily trade their time teaching about the methods they use and love, in exchange for not having to make a run to the library. Being able to do data entry and carry out statistical tests, with guidance, in a program like SPSS, is really valuable. Being able to make charts/figures in programs like Excel, Photoshop and Illustrator is a real plus.

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