It’s the end of the program, but only the beginning of my scientific journey. In the past 8 weeks, I have made my first steps into research – and it’s been an amazing experience. During what felt like such a short amount of time, I’ve grown so much as a scientist.
Before the program, I didn’t have an accurate picture of what research was like. Now, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of and appreciation for science. From learning how to clone DNA to understanding the mechanisms of heart regeneration, from reading scientific papers to experiencing the lab environment, from working on an independent project to hearing Duke faculty share about their research, I have a much better understanding of what a scientific career is like. It is something I definitely want to continue to explore.
I’ve learned that science is a lot about asking questions. Whether it’s asking why is this important, what does this do, or how does this work, the root of science is asking questions and striving to find answers. Science is intricate and tricky in this sense. Sometimes, there’s no clear-cut answer. And when there is an answer, it doesn’t always come right away. It’s the scientist’s job to try to crack open this mysterious puzzle, a difficult but highly rewarding task. I think this is what makes science all worth it. You are able to discover things that no one knows, test your curiosities, and contribute to society in meaningful ways.
Walking in to lab on the first day, I’ll admit I was nervous. Here I was, in this room full of expensive, fancy machines I didn’t know how to work and intelligent scientists performing complicated procedures I didn’t understand. Now, however, I’ve gained a sense of confidence and comfort. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a ton of things I don’t know how to do. I’m still learning. But, every day, I came into lab, excited to work on my project. And every day, I walked away learning something new. Whether it was the new skills I’ve learned, knowledge I’ve gained, or relationships I’ve developed, this experience has been truly valuable. It’s the last day now, and I’m no longer nervous. Instead, I’m more curious, eager, and excited to continue to discover.
I am so grateful to Dr. Grunwald and Jason for all their hard work to make this experience possible for us. I also want to thank the entire Poss lab, especially my PI and my mentor, for giving me the opportunity to work with them and for all their patience, support, and guidance. This experience has truly been a great gateway into research and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.