Maria Zimmerman is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in chemical engineering. Below are a few of her unfiltered thoughts about working in professor Joseph Wang's NanoEngineering lab, and about doing student research as an undergraduate. (I'm hoping Maria will also fill us in on what kind of research she is working on. Stay tuned. And be sure to check out her other lab shots here.)
"I started my research during the summer of 2009. I was supposed to leave at the end of the summer due to my fellowship, but I kept extending a few months at a time until now, a year and half later.
"At first I just wanted to publish a paper and work with the renowned Dr Wang just because it’s ambitious, and because I knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity because it’s one of the most prestigious career training opportunities UC San Diego has to offer. Now I stay because it brought me closer to UC San Diego than anything else I've done in my four years here.
"The grad students and postdocs I answer to have become my friends as well as my professional mentors. Having this lab to drop by everyday makes this huge campus feel more personal. And of course, working so close to Dr. Wang really helps me understand what thinking and commitment it takes to be successful. I don't want to pursue a career chemical engineering because it’s ambitious anymore, but because I really can see myself doing it."
Maria Zimmerman's advice to other students:
1. Go for the gold! The labs that are the hardest to get in will be the most worth it. Those are the labs that will invest the most money in you.
2. Ask for responsibility. The work only gets interesting if they trust you want to do it. You are just wasting your time if you go in to clean pipette tips.
3. Get to know your mentor. They are filled to the brim with advice. They were undergraduates once too, and they usually have some pretty strong opinions about it.