Unlike our undergraduates, graduate students are more involved in laboratory research than in classes and lectures. Therefore graduate students spend a lot of time with their advising faculty and research lab members performing experiments and taking part in discussions, research paper readings and seminars.
Faculty members have their own individual advising styles, even if their research themes are similar. The University has a wide variety of faculty: some give very close guidance, while some take a laissez-faire approach and give their students a lot of autonomy. Accordingly, each research lab has its own culture.
Because graduate students spend a lot of time in the research lab, their ability to work productively depends on carefully selecting the right lab for themselves. This means not only the right research theme, but also the faculty advising style and culture of the lab.
Therefore, when selecting a research lab, it is important not only to know in advance the facts about that lab (its research themes, the results produced by its faculty, the career paths taken by earlier students there), but also to get a sense of the lab atmosphere.
We recommend visiting the lab if it is at all possible.