Well played, undergrads. Well played.

Oct 18 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Last week I gave a brief presentation on my research to around 80 or so undergrads who'd just chosen my sub-department specialty as their major. Almost all of them were freshmen. I mentioned  that I may have an opportunity or two in the lab, and that if they were interested, they could come see me afterwards. The students were super quiet during the presentation, so I figured I'd have 2, maybe 3 overachievers hang behind. Max.

Instead, a monstrous wave of hoodies, Uggs, and laptops descended upon me. It was an experience, I imagine, not wholly unlike that of the Egyptians as the Red Sea closed around them, Moses's caravan just out of reach.  Suppressing panic, I did what the Egyptians should have done (had they only the technology), and wrote my email address on the blackboard. "If you're interested in working in the lab," I said, "send me an email and we'll set up a time to chat."

I felt confident that this first obstacle would be an effective screening mechanism. Surely a good chunk of them would decide not to bother, or forget to write, no? No. I received no fewer than seventeen emails from students expressing not only interest, but eagerness and gratitude for the opportunity. I duly arranged meetings with each of them, hoping thinking that at least a few would flake out, thus making it easier to narrow things down.

So far, each one has shown up a minimum of 5 minutes early for our appointment. Sheesh, students! I mean, how am I supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff if you're all responsible and enthusiastic neuroscience lovers? I feel I have no choice but to go with the next obvious criteria, Semi-Pro Baking Skills, followed by Gets Friends & Family Discounts at Apple Store.

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