Applicant Guide

Want to be part of the team? Here's some tips.

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Understand what we do.

Berman Lab takes its responsibility to students seriously; we want to know that not only are the students a good fit for us, but that we are also a good fit for the students. Take some time to look through our What We Do section to learn about what we do and what we don't, so you can determine if our lab is a good fit for the skills you want to learn. Not every lab is the right fit for every student, and we want you to choose a lab where you will thrive.

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Who you are is more important than your preexisting skills.

While having a strong understanding of statistics and some programming skill (R, MATLAB, etc.) is a definite asset, the qualities we're most looking for are a deep interest in cancer, a strong attention to detail, and an eagerness to learn. We've taken on a number of students who had no or few preexisting research skills, but they were able to demonstrate strong interest in cancer through their cancer-specific volunteer activities.

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We're a lab home, not a quick stop.

We prefer to create long-term arrangements with students; our student researchers often stay with us for the duration of their undergrad, and many continue with Berman Lab throughout their Master's or PhD programs. If your desire is for short-term placements and to experience a variety of environments, Berman Lab will not be a good fit. We're looking for students who want a "lab home" where they can grow their skills and interpersonal networks over time. Please see "499" below.

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We're a dry lab.

While we work with human specimens in the form of tumor sections and liquid samples, we are not a wet lab; most of our students don't do dissections or hands-on biochemistry experiments. If your desire is for work with lab animals, dissection of specimens, or other "wet work", we're not the right lab for you. Almost the entirety of our work is done on the computer, using data extraction from patient charts, visual analysis of histological images, and interpreting DNA, mRNA, and protein data generated by partner laboratories.

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Write your own email.

When you write your cover letter to us, be sure not to use an AI. If your letter looks like it was written with the assistance of ChatGPT or another assistive device, it will receive a polite rejection. We want students who care about the authenticity of their work and who are committed to what they're doing. We want to know who you are, so tell us yourself why you care about cancer, why this placement is appropriate for you, and why you want to be part of Berman Lab.

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Our next round of intake will be in 2025.

We're currently closed to new intake until early 2025; if you're interested, reach out to us in December 2024. Of the applications we receive, 5-15% are selected to have interviews. After the interview period, we select a maximum of 2-5 students a year (depending how many are needed to replace students that are graduating). After joining the lab, there's a three-month training period when new students learn about pathological data extraction, research variables and principles, and gain familiarity with their fellow students and staff through participating in Journal Club, our weekly lab meeting, and group meetings for projects.

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First-year undergrad? Read this.

We believe that the first year of an undergrad is for learning how to be a student, managing coursework and extracurriculars, and adjusting to your new environment. First-year students are welcome to contact us in mid-to-late April at the end of Winter/Spring semester, to potentially interview during May and join the lab near the end of their first year. If you contact us early in your first year, we'll invite you to return to the interview process in April.

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Hopeful Independent Study (e.g., 499) student? Read this.

Independent study students need to join the lab in their second or early third year (third-year students are eligible for our first interview round in October) as volunteers or work-study students, in order to learn the required skills for a fourth-year project. If you're interested in doing a 499 project with us, apply in your second year or during September in your third year. Additional full-time work (e.g., Summer Work Experience Program, or SWEP) in the summer is a terrific way to gain the skills and momentum needed for a 499.