We often have positions for undergraduates seeking behavioral neuroscience laboratory research experience, as well as graduate students who wish to earn a PhD in neuroscience. Read on to learn more about working in the Williams Lab, what we are looking for in a candidate, and how to apply.
Who are we looking for?
We are open to undergraduate students interested in our work regardless of their major, and accept UROP, DIS, and Honors Thesis students. Most important to note: We work with rats and mice, so everyone in our lab must be comfortable with animal research, though we do not expect undergrads to have had any prior research or rodent handling experience. We do look for some biological science course background and an interest in pursuing a career related to biomedical science.
We only accept students who intend to do at least 2 semesters with us. This is because it takes time to develop basic skills with the rodents and equipment, and gain everyone's trust to be allowed to do more complex things independently in the lab. It's a better experience for everyone if students are able to make a longer commitment. Undergraduates who make substantial contributions to experiments are often co-authors on conference presentations and journal publications.
What do undergrads do in the lab?
The time commitment for the standard 3-credit DIS is 9-10 hours/week, including occasional weekend and evening work. Some weeks will be more and some will be less, depending on what's happening with ongoing projects, so some flexibility is required. It's rare for something to come up that wasn't planned in advance because all of our work is carefully designed and scheduled. Initially, students shadow more experienced lab members and assist with behavioral neuroscience experiments. As students become more skilled, they take on more responsibility and may run experiments of their own. This can involve activities such as measurement of feeding and/or drinking behavior, use of various behavioral testing equipment, brain or gastrointestinal surgery, brain sectioning and histology, and measurement of hormones, mRNA, or protein in blood or tissue samples. Everyone in the lab also participates in basic lab maintenance, including duties such as cleaning glassware, making stock solutions, taking inventory, countertop clean-up, and more. We hold weekly lab meetings at which lab members take turns presenting data or journal articles. There is no guarantee that any particular project results in publishable data, but students are always encouraged to present their work at various venues here on campus and at external meetings, and to apply for grants/awards.
How to apply
Fill out this Google form using your FSU email address.
We train graduate students through the FSU Program in Neuroscience.
Who are we looking for?
This is a doctoral program, so we are looking for students who wish to earn a PhD. We accept students who will have earned a BA or BS by the time they begin the PhD program, as well as students who will enter with a Master's Degree. The Williams Lab focuses heavily on behavior, so some psychology course background is valuable, in addition to neuroscience, biology, and chemistry courses. More important than any specific coursework, we require candidates for our lab to have significant (>1 semester) laboratory animal research experience.
What do our graduate students do?
Students in our program take core courses for the first few years, but also begin laboratory research immediately. In our lab, new students begin by shadowing more senior lab members and participating in a project already in progress. Trainees are expected to devote substantial time to reading the scientific literature on ingestive behavior, to obtain the necessary background for understanding our work and keep up with new findings in the field. Within their first semester, we expect new graduate students to begin independently running experiments designed in collaboration with Dr. Williams. Our students spend most of their working hours in the laboratory when not in class. We expect that new ideas will be generated with each successive result, as well as through reading and discussing papers. Our laboratory technicians and undergraduate researchers often assist grad students on their projects, and more experienced graduate students help mentor and train new graduate and undergraduate students. Grad students present their work at national and international conferences annually, publish peer-reviewed journal articles, and apply for grant funding from NIH and other sources.
How to apply