When Kate Evely asked professors in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology if they welcomed undergraduates into their labs, she wondered if any of them would respond.
After all, she didn’t have research experience.
She hadn’t even declared her major.
“I figured that the worst they could do was say, ‘No,’” she recalls.
Instead, every professor not only answered Evely’s email but offered to meet with her.
That included Margarita Dubocovich, who invited Evely to shadow a PhD candidate in her lab before joining it.
“Shadowing was a great way to introduce me to the lab because I learned a lot of basic lab processes and procedures,” Evely says.
Thanks to Dubocovich’s thoughtful mentoring, Evely learned to troubleshoot her projects.
“Dr. Dubocovich always asked me what I was doing, and she’d sit down with me to can work through problems I encountered. She was great about helping me come up with my next plan in the lab.”
“As a student athlete, I really appreciated that,” added Evely, who was a coxswain for the UB women’s rowing team. “I didn’t know how I would get through the day if I didn’t plan and stay organized.”
Impressed by the diversity of the department’s research and the faculty’s enthusiasm for their work, Evely declared her major in pharmacology and toxicology during her junior year.
“It was really refreshing to see so many scientists who are so passionate about what they do,” she says.
“If undergraduates want to get more involved in the department they should definitely approach the professors and find out what they’re working on in their labs.
“There are so many different types of research going on that you’ll definitely find something that interests you.”
Evely initially considered pursuing a bachelor’s degree but changed her mind when she learned that it would take only an extra year of study to earn the BS/MS degree.
“It was perfect for me,” she says. “I did research for two years and I had good job opportunities afterward.”
When people asked her why she didn’t just complete the undergraduate degree requirements and apply directly to a PhD program, Evely answered this way.
“A PhD is a huge commitment. You’re going to be spending five or six years of your life working toward it, so you should be 100 percent sure that’s what you want to do.
“The BS/MS was a great way to be involved in research while figuring out if a PhD program is right for me.”
Everly earned her PhD in neuroscience at the Jacobs School in 2017 and works in industry.