My BioSci Undergraduate Learning Experience

  • Jan 21, 2019

I remember being so eager to take my first biology lab because I wanted to learn more about how research is conducted at a Tier-1 major research institution. I soon found out that research doesn’t have to be just about science, it could be just about anything you are interested in whether if it’s psychology, music, or art. I took BS 171 during my sophomore year and was impressed with the specific techniques we were learning. We learned the basic fundamentals of bench work techniques like how to use a micropipette, practice aseptic technique, and perform serial dilutions in order to run PCR and SDS-PAGE gels. We then used all of these techniques towards our own research for the second half of the semester with the Red Cedar River.

This was the first class where I felt like a true “scientist” because we got to apply the techniques we learned to a research project we all collaborated on as a course. I got the chance to have Dr. John Urbance as my instructor for the course and enjoyed learning directly from him how to form a hypothesis to execution of a scientific research poster. We learned the “Do’s & Don’ts” about a scientific poster and how to make it where it’s readable to any individual.

This led to me applying for the position for the following school year. This is my second semester ULA’ing and I teach two, two hour and fifty minute sections this semester with a three hour prep meetings totaling to about 10 hours a week. During the prep meetings, we run the whole lab to make sure that all the kinks are figured out and everything runs smoothly in a timely manner.

Being able to interact with students on a daily basis and help them apply the BS 161 Cellular and Molecular Biology lecture to the lab is fairly rewarding. It also helps me to retain the material that I learned from when I took the course during my freshman year and use it to take my DAT (Dental Admissions Test).

I have used many of the techniques that I have learned in the BS 171 course in the research lab that I am currently in, Dr. A.J Robison & Dr. Michelle Mazei-Robinson’s lab in the Department of Physiology and the Neuroscience Program. I recommend being an undergraduate learning assistant for any course that you have excelled in because it gives you a chance to lead future Spartans with the knowledge you have accumulated and share it with them. You also get to engage with other students whom have similar aspirations as you. There are a ton of different classes that have ULA opportunities so don’t be afraid to ask your professor or TA if there are any openings for you!


Good luck!

By: Stacy Vo