Exploring UC Davis’ Fitness Resources

As busy college students, it is easy to forget to self-care and maintain our physical health. However, as finals approach, it’s particularly important to take time to de-stress and relax. I have personally found that an excellent way to do this is by sticking with a general rule- exercise in any form, 4 times a week and in 30 minute increments.

Here are several great exercise resources to consider as a UC Davis student:

The UC Davis ARC

The indoor track, weight room and huge collection of exercise machines can give you the perfect workout at no extra cost during the school year. However, during the summer, you must be a registered in summer courses or else there is an extra fee. Jogging, strength training, heavy lifting, circuit training- these are all fantastic ways to stay in shape!

If you are new to the gym, the ARC provides personal trainers who can help you set long-term goals and learn how to safely use the huge collection of weights and machines in the building. Other facilities, such as the swimming pools and rock climbing walls, are also available.

Group exercise classes are also a great way to learn a new workout routine under supervised instruction. Available classes range from cycling to Zumba.

If you already enjoy playing a sport, Intramurals (IMs) are a fun way to meet people and team up for playing with friendly competition. Sports offered include basketball, flag football, volleyball, kickball, pickleball, soccer, softball, tennis, ultimate frisbee and even Quidditch. If you do not have a ready formed team,  you are still welcome to register for IMs as a free agent. More information on personal training, group exercises classes and intramurals can be found at the CRU website.


PE Classes

The UC Davis Department of Physical Education provides a huge range of PE classes every quarter that are open to all undergraduate students. Classes are usually offered for 0.5 units, and meet for 2 hours every week. UCD students are allowed to take up to 6 units of PE classes for credit in their academic career (more classes may be taken beyond 6 units, but students will not receive credit for these classes). A huge variety of sports at every level is available, and the instruction is excellent because many classes are taught by seasoned trainers or university athletic coaches.  Courses include kickboxing, rock-climbing, volleyball and weight-training, just to name a few.


CRU Outdoor Adventures

Particularly popular for summer adventures with friends, the CRU Outdoor Adventures center offers exciting ways to be active through white river rafting, hiking and camping trips in beautiful natural areas around California. More information can be found here:


Although taking time away from work or study may seem counterintuitive, this strategy actually optimizes performance because exercise hugely boosts energy levels and concentration. Exercising regularly not only benefits your general well-being, but also greatly increases your studying productivity.

Take time out of your schedule to have fun and energize!

Janis Kim
4th Year Biological Sciences Major
BASC Peer Adviser


What Undergraduate Research Can Do For You

Why should you become involved in undergraduate research?

As undergraduate students, we can forget the fact that most of our professors do not spend the majority of their time teaching undergraduate classes. A large research university like UC Davis uses a huge portion of its human resources and facilities to carry out “original research”. This involves professors and their research teams battling everyday to advance knowledge in their field by carrying out research in the various labs dotted around campus.

As an undergraduate, it’s wise to tap into this exciting world, in order to make the most of your educational experience. Working as an undergraduate assistant in a laboratory can expand your intellectual horizons and challenge you beyond any class coursework- it is like powerlifting for the intellect. You will learn how to read and analyze peer reviewed research articles. You will learn advanced technical skills that will supplement knowledge in upper division biology classes and open up career opportunities. For example, gaining lab skills can make you a much more competitive applicant for becoming a lab technician or gaining an internship at a biotechnology company right after graduation (e.g. Genentech). Additionally clinical research can provide you with patient contact and strengthen healthcare school applications.

Above all, it can be difficult to get to know your professors at a large research university like UC Davis. Therefore, sitting at a lab bench for 3 hours every Monday morning with your graduate student advisor or professor will offer you an unparalleled opportunity to get to know them. If you develop a genuine, professional relationship with your professor, they can guide you towards incredible opportunities, grants/ scholarships and provide perspectives on careers both inside and outside of academia. They are also in an excellent position to provide you with a detailed, supportive letter of recommendation for graduate school.

Although the rewards can be great, it is worth noting that research is challenging and requires a significant time commitment of 6-12 hours per week. As with any extracurricular activity, you should periodically assess whether research is something you truly enjoy, and if the benefits outweigh the costs for your particular situation.

How to become involved in undergraduate research

Ideally, you should become involved with research at end of your freshman year or the beginning of your sophomore year. This will give you 2-3 years to learn the skills necessary to make a genuine impact in your department. However, your junior year can also be an excellent time to become involved in a lab, as some professors prefer students with certain advanced science classes under their belt.

Here are the general steps required to become an undergraduate research assistant:

  1. First, make a list of fields that you are interested in (e.g. genetics, physiology, psychology, neurology). Contact and meet with an appropriate faculty advisor for overall advice on campus research opportunities by visiting: http://basc.ucdavis.edu/advising/faculty-advisers.html
  2. Visit lab websites. Google search UC Davis department websites and make a list of labs/ professors to contact. Paid and unpaid research assistant opportunities will also be advertised through the bismajors listserv and on Aggie Job Link. Undergraduate assistant positions are usually unpaid, but some can be paid or eventually develop into paid positions. You may also meet professors requiring lab assistants in BIS 005, a research course required for all BIS majors.
  3. When visiting the lab website, try to assess the environment to predict what sort of learning experience you will receive. For example, in a very large lab, you may not have opportunities to talk with the PI (main professor) or learn skills beyond basic lab maintenance work. Also, if the lab uses animal models, you should consider whether you would be comfortable handling or even euthanizing the given animal. If the lab is involved with clinical research, you should consider whether you would enjoy working with patients, as well as the ethical implications.
  4. Read 1 to 3 research articles written by the professor of your lab of interest. Send a professional and succinct email to the professor expressing your interest, mention something specific about their research that interests you and ask if there are any openings for research volunteers. Your professor may request a more formal interview and your resume, to assess your suitability for the lab. You should also use interviews to assess whether the professor or graduate mentor will provide a learning environment that will be useful to you.
  5. Do not be discouraged if there is no space for you in a particular lab. You may need to apply to 10-50 labs before you receive a positive response.
  6. During your first year of working on a research project, do not expect anything but go out of your way to be as helpful as possible. Get to work on time everyday and be prepared to perform basic tasks with enthusiasm. Once you have proven your reliability and gained some technical expertise, slowly increase your involvement by offering to take on more duties. As you are assigned important work, go the extra mile to complete these tasks to the highest standards possible. Keep an eye out for undergraduate summer internships or ask your graduate mentor or professor if they know of such opportunities. Approaching your work with positivity and diligence will maximize the benefits you will receive from any research experience.
  7. UC Davis provides annual opportunities to present undergraduate research at the Undergraduate Research Conference, as well as a variety of awards, which can be read about at: https://urc.ucdavis.edu/awards/index.html The Undergraduate Research Center also provides services to undergraduates including educational programs, seminars and workshops: https://urc.ucdavis.edu/students/services.html

Janis Kim
4th Year Biological Sciences Major
BASC Peer Adviser

Career Spotlight: Clinical Laboratory Scientist/ Technologist

Are you interested in pursuing a one-year postgraduate certification that will open up doors for excellent employment opportunities? Do you have a passion for healthcare and helping patients? Would you enjoy working with technology in a laboratory setting? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should consider pursuing a career as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS)!

What is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist?

When physicians or other healthcare personnel order a set of tests, Clinical Laboratory Scientists are the professionals who perform and analyze complex medical tests behind-the-scenes. They form a critical part of the healthcare team who care for patients, as the data they produce affects medical decisions ranging from detection to treatment of disease. CLS’ require strong scientific, analytical thinking skills, attention to detail, dexterity and physical stamina.

Most CLS’ work full-time and those who work in 24 hour facilities may work day, evening or night shifts. Approximately 50% of Clinical Lab Scientists work in hospital laboratories, while the remaining professionals work in doctors’ offices or independent laboratories. CLS’ may specialize in one particular area of expertise, such as Immunology or Microbiology according to the CA department of Public Health: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/lfs/Pages/ClinicalLaboratoryScientist.aspx

How can a UC Davis student become a CLS?

CLS’ typically have a Bachelor of Science plus 12-14 months of training in an accredited clinical laboratory program. Coursework emphasizes pathology and laboratory skills, including safety standards and lab management.

California is one of the few states that require CLS’ to be licensed. After completion of a program, CLS trainees must pass the ASCP Board of Certification Exam.

There are approximately 15 accredited CLS programs in California, and admissions is highly competitive. All programs require applicants to have a CLS Trainee License through the California Department of Public Health. The CLS Trainee License requires applicants to have taken undergraduate courses in Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hematology. Competitive applicants for CLS programs have extensive laboratory work experience. Accredited programs are listed on the CA Department of Public Health website at: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/lfs/Documents/Approved%20CLS%20Training%20Programs.pdf

What is the job outlook for a CLS?

Program graduates are currently in high demand and the outlook for CLS’ is well above average with a projected growth of 14% in the next 10 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a CLS in 2015 was $60,520. An increasing aging population in the United States will increase the demand for CLS’s. CLS may advance to supervisor positions or as administrators who direct and manage all laboratory operations according to the California Occupational Guide: http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/occguide/mdclinlb.pdf

Useful UC Davis resources for students interested in this career:

Good luck!

Janis Kim
4th Year Biological Sciences Major
BASC Peer Adviser