Positions in the lab.
Do you accept volunteers?
I do not accept volunteers in the lab. My philosophy is that if you are doing valuable work for me then you deserve to get paid/get academic credit for that work and if you are not doing valuable work, then you should not be in the lab. Undergraduate volunteers can’t contribute enough time to do anything other than washing up or filling tip boxes, which is not a valuable contribution to my research or your c.v. Because I have a large lab and am actively involved in mentoring my own and other trainees, I do not have the time to effectively supervise volunteers and I would rather students have a good experience in another lab. Under rare circumstances I will host individuals who want to learn a specialized skill or technique on a volunteer/collaborative basis.
A thesis project involves a major commitment of time and energy on my part to train inexperienced students and consequently I have stringent criteria for accepting students. If after reading the following, you feel that the lab is the right fit for you, please send me a c.v. that lists relevant courses and prior lab experience and an email explaining why you are interested in working in my lab. If you are chosen for an interview I will require a formal transcript of your grades as we have had a disturbing number of forgeries of unofficial transcripts in the department. Criteria are as follows: 1) Thesis students must work for me the summer prior to your thesis project as only students who have had full time training tend to be productive over the school year. Students are expected to apply for external funding for your summer studentship. 2) Thesis students must have applied lab experience. This may take the form of applied courses (e.g. Biochem 2L06, Inquiry in Biochemical Techniques) or in prior lab experience. Unfortunately the pace in my lab is not suitable for students who do not have basic lab experience (i.e. pipetting, making molar solutions, DNA & protein electrophoresis). Students whose curriculum doesn’t include basic lab courses but who have taken a summer workshop in Molecular Genetics (follow link for details), will be considered. 3) You must take 3rd & 4th year immunology courses either prior to or concurrent with your thesis project. I expect that undergraduate students will be a productive member of my team and an integrated member of our department. As such, they are expected to participate at lab meetings, attend departmental seminars and think critically about their research. In general the students who meet these standards are considering a career in research, are intrigued by the scientific process and are hard working & committed. If you feel you meet these standards, please feel free to contact me. Undergraduates interested in research positions might find the McMaster Undergraduates in Research in Science Association webpage interesting. They provide excellent advice on how to obtain a research position here. Please note that I do not provide letters of reference for medical school.
I am interested in a MSc/PhD in your lab – are you accepting students?
Finding the right supervisor/student is a fine art and a decision that should not be taken lightly (for an excellent article on choosing the right supervisor, click here). On my part there are funding, space and resource issues to consider but the biggest obstacle is finding the right students. I accept students through McMaster’s Medical Sciences Graduate program and consequently you must meet all their criteria to become a graduate student. In addition, I will not generally consider students without some research experience (i.e. thesis projects, summer experience), excellent references and a strong background in any aspect of the biological sciences (although I am always interested in meeting with students who have backgrounds in physics, engineering, computer science, chemistry etc). In most cases it will be necessary to have a student fill a certain project, however, there in exceptional cases I will be able to craft a project to suit the student’s strengths/interests (e.g. a co-supervised project with a professor in another department/field). The students who are the most successful in graduates school tend to know what their timeline is in advance (i.e. a student who knows that they want a MSc. will not be successful if they are assigned a project designed for a PhD student, which generally has a 1-2 year “start-up” time), have an idea of their long-term career goals (e.g. academia? industry? medicine? our work bridges all 3 and projects should be tailored accordingly) and are creative and independent thinkers. All students are expected to apply for external funding and due to current financial constraints, unfortunately international students will need to have external funding. If you are interested in graduate studies in my lab, and meet the above criteria, please feel free to contact me with a c.v., and email detailing your research interests and career goals. (This may be done prior to or post applying to the Medical Sciences Graduate Program). If you are chosen for an interview you will be required to meet with both me and the members of my lab and I will require a transcript and references.
Choosing the right post-doc is one of the most important decisions you will make in your academic career (for valuable advice, click here). In general I will have very few “ready-funded” positions for post-docs. All interested post-docs will be required to find their own funding in the foreseeable future; however, if you are interested in working in my lab, you are welcome to contact me. You will be asked to present your current work to my group, meet with both me and my lab and I will require a c.v., statement of research interests, plan for obtaining external funding and references.