Connecting the Dots

I remember leaving my high school science fair experience with a sense of fulfillment. The hardships only magnified the reward of finding the answers to my questions, and I am eager to continue gaining knowledge and solving problems through research. In the next two months, I hope to channel this passion into expanding my knowledge of neuroscience, integrating myself into a community of like-minded scientists, and discovering the intricacies of a career in research by observing and participating in a cutting-edge lab firsthand.

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Erich Jarvis’ lab for the next couple of months. The objective of this lab is to understand the genetic differences that account for certain neural pathways that allow vocal learning in songbirds. As a neuroscience major and a musician, I am incredibly excited to see what this lab discovers. The collaboration between the constituent projects of this lab is absolutely fascinating, and I am constantly adding to my knowledge of neuroscience in the context of genetics and evolution in order to translate the jargon and truly grasp the underpinnings of this lab’s investigation. I trust that by the end of this program, absorbing new information through scientific literature will become less of a struggle, and that the skills and knowledge I attain will serve as building blocks for my own investigations.

Collaboration between different fields of knowledge naturally entails collaboration between the experts of these fields. I quickly learned during my first lab meeting that teamwork is not an option, but a requirement, and that science must be collaborative. Science would mean nothing without communication. If knowledge is found but not shared, what is it good for? I hope to learn not only how to absorb knowledge, but also how to communicate. I will have the pleasure of interacting with and getting to know the inspiring people I work with, including people from my own lab, other labs within the Jarvis project, neighboring labs, and my fellow fellows.

Just as I have already gotten to know the collaborative nature of research, I aspire to further develop my knowledge of the lifestyle of a researcher. My goal is to take in as much as I can, observe and ask questions, and ultimately obtain a better understanding of who I might become if I were to become a researcher and how I might integrate that vision with my hopes of making an impact in the advancement of treatment for neurodegenerative diseases. I may not connect all the dots, but I hope to at least collect and arrange them into a more intelligible pattern.


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