How did I join 5 labs in 2 years?

The title may appear to be an impossible feat, but it is achievable. Let’s start from an email.

Writing an email:

Two years ago, in U1, I emailed multiple professors to forage an available lab. However, I got ignored. It turned out the titles of the emails I had sent, such as “Volunteering in a lab” and “Paid research assistant position”, had a problem.

If I could go back, I would title the emails as such: “BIOL396 Research Course Supervisor”.

To start off, the chance of getting paid as an undergraduate student is essentially nil unless you could code proficiently. So, let’s forget about the money.

A research course such as BIOL396 spans across multiple departments to tailor to whatever the department your supervisor is affiliated. For example, if your supervisor is in the Pharmacology Department, take PHAR396. For a professor, instead of pointlessly having students volunteering in a lab once a week, offering students a project is more sensible. A project could require students to commit 20-40 hours a week in a lab. McGill has designed research courses to confer undergraduate students an independent research project, which reciprocally grants a professor a complete control over a student’s grade. This leaves students with no choice but to commit to their projects. Taking a research course during the summer is also allowed. Most people get A- or A from a research course.


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