Biology Question #2781

Arslan Zaidi, a 19 year old male from Karachi/Pakistan asks on May 28, 2005,

What are the urgent steps an undergrad must take to start researching? I am a high school graduate who wants to become a scientist. I want to become a professor. I just don't know what path I am supposed to take. Could I also be told of some Internet resources on molecular or evolutionary biology?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on May 29, 2005

There is nothing terribly urgent required. This is going to take years, and that is a good thing, because it is very likely that you will change your mind a few times as you work your way towards becoming a professor. That is OK. The key thing is to do what you love. Here are only a few things you should do in the short term:

1. Take lots of introductory courses in university: first year biology, chemistry, physics, etc. so you will learn what you like. Right now you don't really know enough to make a judgement. After you take those courses you will know better. It will take two or three years.

2. Spend a lot of time in libraries and become friends with librarians, especially in the reference section. Learn how to work the online indexes. Librarians will love to teach you. Never be ashamed to ask a librarian for help. Librarians can be your best friend if you are interested in scientific research and becoming a professor. There is no point in working on something before you check very carefully what has been done before, and librarians are the most skilled at helping you do this.

3. As you take your courses at university, notice which professors or lecturers you like, then do not be shy about talking to them. Go up to the front and talk to them after lectures. Go visit them in their offices and become friends. They will help you in many ways, including directing you on the path to becoming a professor.

4. You can volunteer or work as a research assistant by going to, a website that connects people who want to do research with researchers who need helpers.

If you want Internet resources about molecular or evolutionary biology just go to and type in: molecular biology introduction. Or whatever interests you. Just add the words, "introduction" or "beginner", or "explained" to the kind of science you are interested in.

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