I can’t believe BSURF is over. I feel like I became so used to the 9 to 5 workdays it’s hard to believe they’re over for who knows how long. It’s surreal. I’m so thankful to have been given this opportunity to dedicate two full months to immersing myself in research. There was definitely a learning curve in the beginning as I had never been in a biology wet lab before. But by the end, I felt like I started to get a grasp on what I was doing and was working almost independently. We struggled in the beginning to get results and were forced to go back and optimize our procedure. After we did this, things really took off and we began making small findings, which was really exciting. I’m so happy that I got placed in the lab I’m in now. My mentor was such a good teacher and worked so hard to make sure I understood not only what I was doing but why it was important. My PI also worked hard to take an active role in my experience, teaching me the background information and checking in on my progress and how I was feeling about the whole process. I felt so supported in my lab and worked so hard to make them proud. There were many times when I was too hard on myself and my perfectionism hurt me. But wherever I struggled, my mentor and PI were there and ready to develop a plan to solve the problem.
A lot for me has changed this summer. I went into this program having ideas about my career choice that are slightly different from what I think I want to do now. This experience was incredible and allowed us to develop a realistic perspective on what doing research is like. It has confirmed for me that I love research. I love its hands-on nature, freedom, and flexibility. But I also realized how important other fields are to me too and how what I really wanted to pursue was an integration of biology with other fields of interest to me such as ethics and law. It wasn’t an easy realization to come too and in a way made things that much more unclear. It was scary but exciting. My heart will always be with biology and I still fully plan on continuing to take part in and engage with research. But I realized I needed to include some of my other interests and that I need to work to integrate them in some capacity in my career.
As for how this summer changed my view of science, I don’t think it has changed my view much. But I will say that knowing something and experiencing it are two very different things. To name a few: I knew research was challenging and filled with many obstacles. I also knew that producing interesting results is exciting in a way not much else it. I knew these things going into the summer, but I had never really experienced them myself in a real-world setting. This experience has allowed me to experience those things for myself rather than relying on what someone else tells me. I’m really proud of myself for my perseverance when I ran into obstacles and the final product I’m leaving this program with. It was truly an eye-opening experience and I’m so grateful to have had it and for everyone who dedicated so much time and energy to my development as a prospective member of the field of biology.