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What kind of lab experience do undergrads in biology in the US get - (Jan/30/2012 )

Hi Everyone,

Im wondering if someone can give me some information as to what kind of biology lab techniques (PCR, RT-PCR, ES cell culture, transformation, transfection, etc) do undergrads in Biology in the US get. Do most students get a chance to have their paper published?


If an undergraduate student has their paper published they are certainly above average. If they are first author, then they are exceptional students. I did 1 year of research for credit and I learned various techniques (PCR, RT-PCR, general microbiology techniques, drug screening, and others). If the students take any classes that have a lab session associated with it, im sure they will be doing some PCR, transformations, etc. However, in my experience, cell culture/transfection is not common for undergraduate students unless they are devoting time outside of class to research. I was at a mid-size university (10,000 students) and had great opportunities for learning techniques, but publishing a paper would have been difficult.


I agree with the above post in that very few undergrads actually do publish a paper. You make your own opportunities, though. If your goal is to publish a paper during your time as an undergrad, then there certainly is a path you can take to do so. You would have to start working (or volunteering) in a lab your first year and spend many hours in the lab each week for your entire time as an undergrad. You will likely have to work in the same lab full-time during summer break. To put things in perspective, often PhD programs contain many students who spend 40, 50, 60 plus hours per week only doing lab work (with little or no coursework), and many of them do not publish papers for years. If your plan is to just do a mandatory 6-month internship in a lab where you show up for 2 hours per day, then you will not publish a paper.


Thanks a lot for the info. Its very helpful. Im applyin to a PhD program in the US. I got my more than a year , going to 2 years soon, lab experience in japan.

Based on the info you guys gave, cell culture, transformation, ES/iPSC culture and differentiation , FACS and DNA sequencing might put my application "competitive". I hope!

Im applyin to about average class grad schools but I have no idea how competetive the application is and how much lab experience do undergrad students in the US have.

I co-authored a published review article, Im hoping that it would help my application too!