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 department chair 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.
“Now, I’m working on a couple of projects on my own.”
Thanks to Dubocovich’s thoughtful mentoring, Evely has learned to troubleshoot her projects.
“Dr. Dubocovich is always asking me what I’m doing, and she’ll sit down with me so we can work through problems I encounter. She’s great about helping me come up with my next plan in the lab.”
“As a student athlete, I really appreciate that,” adds Evely, a coxswain for the UB women’s rowing team. “I don’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’s 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’s perfect for me,” she says. “I get to do research for two years and I’ll have good job opportunities afterward.”
When people ask her why she doesn’t just complete the undergraduate degree requirements and apply directly to a PhD program, Evely answers 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 is a great way to be involved in research while figuring out if a PhD program is right for me.”