How to Build a Passion Project in Biology
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexandra Johnson in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Different Types of Biology Projects
Biology as a subject could mean many different areas. There are projects in molecular biology, biogenetics, and healthcare. If you are passionate about a specific field, then that’s great; however, make sure not to close the door on other areas while in High School. You have plenty of time to specialize in certain topics at college.
Let’s talk about the different types of biology projects you could be a part of. Some of the basics are internships and shadow opportunities. These usually come from the emails we talked about earlier. Another option could be volunteer work. Look into if your local hospital or clinic needs volunteers. Even if it is not exactly what you want to do, you’ll still be exposed to a new field that could help you land that dream internship.
In High School, your biggest hurdle for landing these opportunities in biology is your age. Some research labs and hospitals have specific age requirements for volunteers and employees. If you come across this don’t get too down, just try to think about other areas you are interested in that don’t have this limitation.
Reaching Out To Labs
Take a Chance
As a High School student, it might seem hard to get an internship in a lab, but you aren’t too young to start reaching out to nearby labs. High School students all the time get the opportunity to work with great research professors and scientists because they have the confidence to reach out.
Do Your Research
Before you send an email to the head of the lab, make sure to do your research. Look into the lab and the current projects they are working on. Find a topic they’re working on that interests you and bring that up in your email. This will show that you are passionate and motivated.
When writing to a lab, give a fact about the research and why you’re interested in it. You can say something like “Hi Professor ___, I find your research interesting for X, Y and Z reasons. I’m in High School and was wondering if there is a way I could get involved or meet with you to learn more”. Anything along these lines will show you’re curious while remaining professional.
Expect Some “No”s
Remember that you will get a lot of people telling you no, but all it takes is one yes. Some people won’t have the time to respond to you, but you’ll be surprised how many people will. People love talking about themselves and their interests, so try including some specific questions in your email as well.
Sending A Thank You Email
If you do get a response, make sure to thank them for their time. When a researcher or professor responds to your emails, they’re doing you a big favor. If you can send them a physical thank you letter, that would be best. If that’s not an option, an email thanking them for responding will look good as well. That person will now have you in the back of their mind as the polite and curious High School student who is passionate about science. If another opportunity arises, they’re more likely to think of you.
Sometimes, the person you reached out to might not need help in their lab, but they could know someone who does. If they refer you to another lab or researcher, make sure to tell them you’re thankful for making that connection. You could even send them an update after a few months with your progress at that new lab.