I have had one of the most worthwhile experiences in a long time. I got to continue to work full time in a lab that I love, meet amazing faculty speakers with all different experiences, and really work on my skills as a communicator of science. These 8 weeks have gone by so fast and I can’t believe how much I have accomplished in such a short amount of time.
Even though I was not able to clone and successfully amplify all the genes I wanted, I was able to get promising data for not only my project but another project my lab is working on. I was able to deepen my understanding of developmental biology and have begun to truly love the topic. I am so thankful for having Dr. McClay and Ray be such amazing mentors and guide me throughout my 8 weeks and hopefully the rest of my undergraduate career. They have both given me the reigns on my own project and what I want to do from very early on and I am so grateful that I was able to get so much autonomy when doing my experiments because I grew so much from it.
The faculty speakers have also broadened my knowledge of the possibilities after college as well as the importance of things you usually won’t associate with science. Science communication and networking was brought up on many talks and I am so glad that I got to learn ways to communicate my science better and tips to network with other people in the sciences and form collaborations. In fact, I hope to continue to post on my science-specific Twitter account (follow me @Michael_Wen_) as well as participate in more science outreach like how I helped out at the Eno River Festival booth for the NC Herpetological Society. I actually applied to be a tour guide for the Lemur Center to take concrete steps to improving my network and science communication.
After hearing all the faculty speakers and realizing that I love being in the lab, this experience has affirmed that I want to continue doing research for the rest of the time I am at Duke and hopefully go into the route for academia once I graduate. I am so happy how I now have a better understanding of what I want to do in the future and what I don’t want to do.
Thank you so so much to Jason and Dr. Grunwald for being such great mentors and for planning such an amazing program for up and coming scientists. Thank you to all my fellow peers for making this summer such an enjoyable one.