Back when I was a graduate student, and mentoring my very first undergraduate researcher, my advisor had this advice:
“Don’t forget to feed and water your undergraduate!”
It was meant as a humorous reminder that our role as research mentors is to help students develop the skills of a scientist. Our undergraduate students come to us, like seedlings, ready to absorb knowledge and grow into scientists with bench skills and critical thinking abilities. But it is up to us to provide assistance in learning the techniques, as well as guidance in developing the ways in which experiments are planned and results are analyzed.
Since that time, I have mentored many undergraduates both in labs and in classrooms. It is so rewarding to watch them develop as thinkers and scientists. I am very excited to have potentially three undergraduates working with me on various aspects of the Athlete’s Foot in Worms project this summer. I will do my best to remember to feed and water them.