madison henry

Imagine this: It is the final day of summer, and you’re hitting “send” on the email to the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research with your final REAP report. It takes a second, but suddenly your mind is inundated with unknowns: “How will this semester’s classes be?”, “Will I join any clubs this semester, or will I pick up a paid job?”, and perhaps the most daunting, “Will I get to continue researching in the lab?”

As a university student, you are asked to balance a lot of responsibilities and activities that are often widely different and sometimes conflicting with each other: so how do you manage that? I may not be able to completely answer that question, as it is answered differently by each individual. However, I have compiled a collection of tips to help you transition from a full-time REAP to a credit-variable INCO during the school semesters.  

1. Reach out to your research mentor in the last few weeks of REAP.

This should be pretty easy to coordinate, as REAP is a program that fosters an open and communicable relationship between you and your mentor. Ask to sit down for just a few minutes and say you’d like to continue to be a part of the lab. Most mentors are always happy to invest in undergraduate students, and you’ve already opened the door with your REAP experience. However, starting this conversation early saves you from stressing later, and if you decide to join another lab for the semester, this gives you time to reach out to other professors.

2. Register for an INCO early.

You can sign up for two different INCOs, one is the INCO 590, which is a credit-variable pass/fail course that is great for first timers. The other is one you can choose to take after you have taken an INCO 590, which is the INCO 790. This is on a letter-grade basis, and often involves more active participation in the lab. This deadline for registration is normally during the second week of classes, and you need many signatures from your mentor and the department of the lab, so don’t put this off. Early communication with your mentor should help you write up the proposal for the registration, and the sooner its done, the sooner you can get it signed and submitted.

3. Once registered, keep up to date with the literature and the activities in the lab.

 I know very well that the semester is often a time of chaos—classes, clubs, studying, and maintaining your personal health are all necessary tasks. Choosing to continue research is another fun and fulfilling responsibility, but it will add a level of extra planning. Sometimes, you may be a bit behind on what the lab has been doing because you are focusing on your own research project and your life outside of the lab. To relieve that, I find it easier to read up on a topic I don’t know much about but is related to the lab, or to talk to your lab mates and catch up on what projects they have been working on.

Keep organized, and you’ll soon be on the way to continuing your research. Good luck!