If you attend a college without a medical school, you’ve likely wondered about the best types of research labs for pre-med students. While many students may look to a chemistry or basic science lab, we encourage you to explore the wide range of opportunities at your college. We hope the labs below help give any pre-med or pre-health (pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, PT, etc.) student a starting place to gain research experience.
Applied Psychology Labs
Applied psychology labs are working on taking the theories and principles of psychology and applying them to real world problems. Examples of applied psychology research topics include those studying the impact of concussion recovery on children’s return to school, behavioral ways to improve men’s weight loss, and the impact of money stress on the physical health of agricultural workers.
While applied psychology labs vary, they can provide pre-med students with valuable opportunities. In addition to working with human research participants, students can receive exposure to clinical tests, data management, and unique research questions.
Applied Biology Labs
Applied Biology or Biotechnology labs take the understanding of life at the cellular level and apply it to solve a problem. Examples of applied biology and biotechnology research topics include the role of natural coral reefs in reducing beach erosion, tracking gene mutations in mice to track climate adjustment, and examining signaling molecules of animals in drought conditions.
Biology and biotechnology can help keep pre-med and pre-health students well informed in their core science curriculum. May pre-med and pre-health students also enjoy the opportunity to apply their basic science knowledge to a real problem. For some students, the best part of these experiences is being able to share them during medical school interviews.
Epidemiology and Public Health Labs
Epidemiology and Public Health labs are an essential part of examining the wellbeing of the public and reporting on timely trends. Examples of epidemiology and public health labs include examining the prevalence of job related hearing loss in police officers, obstacles to accessing vision care for low income families, and studying the rise of prescription drug trading in middle schools.
While your average student may not consider epidemiology and public health labs before applying to medical school, these experiences are powerful. As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, physicians who are able to understand and act of population based research are extremely valuable to a health care system. Students who are lucky enough to find an available epidemiology lab are often surprised at how exciting it is to have lab work that can directly link to your future career.
Education labs are on the cutting edge of discovering what makes good teaching work for every student. Examples of projects in education labs include testing reading interventions, working with bilingual students on phonics skills, and building better teaching models for students using assistive technology.
Education labs can offer a hands on experience for pre-med and pre-health students, who may be ask to work one-on-one with younger research participants. As a student yourself, being in an education lab can feel easy to understand. The opportunity to work with special populations, such as students with learning differences or special educational needs, can also be exciting for pre-health students looking for an alternative to “bench work.”
Linguistic labs are the backbone to the science of language. Pre-health students who visit linguistics labs are often surprised by how central language processing is to our brains and our culture. Examples of linguistics labs include examining use of emotion laden words by AI technology, assessing the brain wave pattern of bilingual speakers, and documenting how non-native speakers gain new word sounds.
Linguistic labs offer pre-med and pre-health students the opportunity to explore another type of research from their core science classes. Adjusting to the practices of a linguistics lab can be challenging for pre-health students, but it can be rewarding to explore the building blocks of language.
We hope that this article shown you the unique opportunities for pre-med and pre-health undergraduates to participate in research labs. Finding a pre-med research lab can be challenging for students, but strong preparation for professional school is important. The Balkhi Foundation strives to help level the playing field through education for all majors and we hope our educational resources provide students with practical tips they can use.