When my research experience is compared with my original research expectations, I find that the two vary significantly. My expectations of what I would be doing in a lab (before my PI told me) were basically that as a young undergrad, I would be doing a lot of small odd jobs for superiors that would marginally have to do with important research and then as time progressed after the program I might move up, doing more and more actual research, and seeing more of the big picture. I just thought, since a lot of us had little experience in labs and weren’t yet very qualified scientifically or even extremely experienced as college students yet, that labs asking important questions would not want to risk giving us extremely important work. However, what I have found instead is that BSURF fellows are, in fact, trusted with important work, included in the lab’s big picture from the very start, and even given our own very own projects. I am super glad to have found this program in which you are kind of launched into the thick of research and not really handheld too much into it.
Apart from generally just being pleased with how my research experience has provided me with responsibility and the idea that my work will actually be significant in answering important scientific questions, my actual specific project has had its joys and woes that differed from my original expectations. My research overall is definitely going well, I’d say. I wasn’t sure if my seeds would actually germinate in the very beginning, and now not only have seeds germinated but more continue to with time and repetitions of the experiment show measurable results as well. So I’d say the fact that the experiment is producing results is certainly a joy. Another joy is that I enjoy the greenhouse portion of my experiment in which I plant successful sprouts, partly because its a part of my experiment which I didn’t originally expect to do (so the novelty/surprise factor) but also because I am nerdy and I get a joy from the plants’ growth and from seeing other experiments and exotic plants in the greenhouse.
A sort of ‘woe’ is that I did not work through my project as quickly as I had hoped, and I have decided to stop at the three trials I have completed versus the original plan of doing five. Though I am disappointed to not have been able to meet my original time table, I also have found that this experience has given me useful revelations. First I realized, as others have mentioned, that experiments are never as straightforward as expected and I think that is important to have experienced so I can apply it to my planning in future experiments as I continue in research. Second, I believe I had to realize that carefully getting accurate and useful data in these three trials would probably be better than rushing to do five trials and possibly making mistakes or not leaving a long enough span of seed observation time to produce useful data. So this woe may be a sort of woe but I think my realizations from it are definitely a joy.
I have enjoyed my experience, and I am interested to see where it will lead to in my future.