In the past seven weeks, I have been eating irregular things quite irregularly. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to live in an apartment setting away from a dining hall. I have become frugal, questioning every buy from the grocery store. Some days, I eat large breakfasts to skip lunch, or I eat a half portion of lunch to save the other half for dinner.
It wasn’t until Dr. Lawrence David’s faculty talk that I truly began to question my current eating habits. His research focuses on nutrition and the human microbiome, or the population of bacteria in the digestive tract. I learned that dietary compounds stimulate the growth and metabolism of gut microbes. Dr. David shared one of his projects where he tested participants’ microbiomes after eating either a high fiber plant-based diet or a low carb animal-based diet. Although those who received the five day high fiber plant-based diet showed insignificant changes in their microbiomes, subjects who received the five day low carb animal-based diet had a drastic influx in their microbiomes. I didn’t know that human microbiomes could be so heavily affected by a change in food consumption over five days. This led me to think about my change in food consumption for over the past seven weeks!
In addition to Dr. David’s interesting research, his journey to a research inspired me. Like many college students, he was conflicted on what path to pursue. He decided to head into graduate school to receive his Ph.D., however, he kept peering over down the medical school route at times. Dr. David explained how he reevaluated his time in graduate school and what it was like to be a researcher. In comparison to medical school, his schedule as a researcher was his; it was free for what he wanted to do. In fact, he went to Thailand for a summer as part of a year-long research project to study his own microbiome! His education was not restricted to a classroom or course-driven education system. Instead, he could pave his own path. Dr. David emphasized how he was happy where he was and how he did not have a true reason to attend medical school. I believe that I will reach a similar conflict in the future, and I will take Dr. David’s wise words with me.
I am thankful to have this amazing opportunity to not only have listened to Dr. David, but several other faculty members as well. They have all opened my eyes to an array of different research focuses, and they have led me to rethink my career path both at Duke and in the future. I look forward to the last two faculty talks in this upcoming, last week in BSURF!