While I have only worked in Dr. Mooney’s lab for a short time, I feel like I have learned an amount of knowledge far vaster than what I expected from a brief eight weeks of lab work. From learning lab techniques like injection surgeries, histology and immunostaining, and confocal microscopy to studying the neural circuits behind song learning and vocalization, this summer has been one of the most intellectually stimulating periods of my life.
Something that I came to truly realize in the last two months was how incredible nature is, specifically relating to how some biological systems are conserved throughout life. The fact that we are able to use model systems, like zebra finches, to discover and study systems within the human body is indicative of the efficiency and organization of nature. Thus, I believe it gives these organisms an innate value which deserves the respect of researchers and scientists.
In working with the neural circuits behind learned vocalization in zebra finch, I have gained a new appreciation for the complexity behind communication. How we learn to communicate, from a neuroscience viewpoint, is perplexing and necessitates years of future research and study. But on a larger scale, my time in BSURF has emphasized the importance of good communication. As scientists, it is vital that we can communicate our findings, no matter how complex, in a way that is accessible to diverse communities and larger society. Educating others that our experimental findings are important and worth studying is what gives value to our research. For me, the intersection of my BSURF experience and working in a lab that studies learned vocalization and communication has set me down a lifelong commitment to exploring all facets of communication: the scientific and practical aspects of effective communication.