When we came into this program, one of the first posts we wrote was about our expectations for the program. With this available, I thought it would be useful for me to reflect back on that post now, 8 weeks later and see how I felt these expectations were accomplished.
The primary desire I wrote about having was seeing some actual germination which is really quite funny to me because there was so much germination over the past couple of months and the germination began probably 2 or 3 days after I wrote that post. And was that as satisfying of an expectation to have been made a reality as I thought it would be? Why yes, yes it was. As I’d mostly hoped the germination was satisfying because it meant I actually got measurable data, but also it was satisfying because it meant I got to have baby trees and shrubs, and in many cases even planted them in the greenhouse which was probably my favorite part of the physical tasks I did over the summer.
I also briefly mentioned hoping to become more comfortable and familiar with my lab setting and I would definitely give that task a check mark too.
Also, I went on to share that I hoped my research experience would extend past the end of the program, which happily enough, it probably will. Me and Dr. Wright have been discussing the specifics of these plans, but I probably hope to do an independent study. During this time I would likely replicate my own work, this time faster and cleaner now that I am very familiar with the process. Eventually, he mentioned to me that I might be able to take the sprouts I have been planting and carry out a new experiment with the actual plants, and I would test salinity effects in some way with them as well. I am quite excited to see where this leads.
Finally I wrote about hoping to gain more insight into my academic and career goals. One of my main specific hopes under this category was to determine what major I might be interested in between Environmental Science and Biology (with a focus in ecology). I did decide, based on my experiences in the program with conversations and more exposure to the science that I want to major in Biology, which seems to have more classes and course requirements that meet my interests. I think keeping knowledge of policy and being connected to the career resources that the Nicholas School has is also important so I also intend to pursue an Environmental Science minor. It seems like I have enough space and enough overlap to perhaps double major, but I will start out pursuing a minor and evaluate further after this semester. The second specific goal I had under this umbrella was determine if lab research was something I was particularly in love with. I did come up with more clarity on this too. I definitely think lab research is useful and important, but I decided that this kind of research is not where my primary interests lie, and I do not expect to have a lab in my future. Just because I don’t see it in my career though, doesn’t mean I don’t see its importance, which I believe lies in understanding that lab work is where much of our current scientific knowledge comes from, so for these reasons among others I hope to continue doing research in school.
Overall, I thought BSURF was a very rewarding experience. The scientific curiosity I had satisfied, the direction for my future, the social experiences I had with my fellows on and off the clock, and even my enjoyment of central campus living all equated to me being a happy ecology nerd this summer. Also field work was really fun.