Canoeing on the Eno River this summer was such a fun albeit exhausting experience. A term that I learned, courtesy of Dr. Grunwald, is PFD: personal floatation device, a.k.a. life vest. (Being a swimmer since my youth I’d have expected myself to know the acronym, but I didn’t.)
For me, BSURF was a little like my PFD for research— a constant that I could allow myself to lean on and return to while I was dipping my feet in the waters of research: Jason’s wonderful breakfasts, inspiring faculty talks, daily seminars on how to ask good questions and communicate science with integrity, reassuring friends who, more or less were on the same shallow shores that I was. Coming into the program, I relied heavily on this PFD to explore a new avenue I’ve never dove in before. There existed in me an optimist who was unsure of what to expect but was eager to learn as much as I could, but I was also shadowed by the fear of the ever-present pessimist, crafted from the lack of knowledge of what I wanted to do in the future.
Each body of mind was proved a little bit right and a little bit wrong. No, I haven’t finalized the main mechanism of Traumatic Brain Injury or calculated a new head injury criterion, but yes, I have learned so much about the ongoing conversation in this field and have immersed myself in tools like LS-DYNA, LS-PrePost, and the SIMon model that allowed me to understand TBI more. Yes, some days were slow and sometimes stagnant, but other days with pig dissections and drop testing prep were incredibly exciting.
I pushed myself to tackle challenges, ask question, be vulnerable, and most importantly, find joy. I found joy in lab, listening to the many jokes that Dale always makes during lab meetings and being touched by the genuine care and crazy intelligence of lab members. No matter where I end up in the future, the aura of this lab, this biomechanics family, will always set the standard anywhere I work. And I found joy outside of lab, making wonderful memories with old and new friends whether playing games late at night, teaching kids about snakes at the Eno River Festival, or going out on food excursions across Durham.
I want to thank Dr. Dale Bass, Chris Eckersley, Jason Luck, and the rest of the biomechanics lab for being wonderful, inspiring mentor figures and co-workers during my time in lab. Also, I’d like to thank Dr. Ron Grunwald, Jason Long, and everybody in BSURF for being a part of my PFD in the entrance to the large and rather scary ocean of the future. Now that eight weeks have passed filled with rises and falls and a lot of learning, I believe it’s time to say farewell to my PFD. Coming in with only a broad idea of what I want to do in the future, BSURF has given me so much insight on which paths I want to start pursuing as I grow older. I am grateful for everything that BSURF has provided me with; such opportunities and privileges, though I say farewell, will never be forgotten.