As I reflect on the past two months of research, I am filled with an overwhelming feeling: gratitude.
Thank you to the BSURF program for funding my research. Thank you to Dr. Grunwald, Jason Long, and my friends and mentors in the Pendergast lab for dedicating their time and encouragement to create a truly amazing summer research experience.
Research is like baking. I have always enjoyed baking. My favorite baking project to date is making French macarons. These sandwich-like cookies have always intrigued me with the special ruffles on their bottoms called “feet.” With only three ingredients, egg whites, almond flour, and sugar, these cookies are not quite as easy to make as they may seem. After many failed batches of feetless, pancake-like cookies, they no longer emerge from the oven looking like inedible blobs, and that is progress.
The joy. Oh the joy of pulling out delicate little circles of French macaron cookies with their small feet, even if the feet aren’t in perfectly straight lines or the tops of a few cookies have burst open from the baking process. Research is like that. There are joys and there are woes. Each step may seem like another opportunity to make a mistake, but each time one step is complete, it is one step closer to progress. There is joy in knowing that each step counts for something, even if it is only to learn that the batter was overmixed or that a specific antibody does not work.
Admittedly, research is slower than I expected, but somehow I enjoy the whole process, especially the incredible intellectual stimulation as I proceed to answer questions from different angles or analyze the results of each western blot. This summer, I discovered the inner cheerleader inside of me who persistently cheers, “Next time! Next time!” This little pal constantly reinvigorates my optimism towards science.
All of the sudden, I am considering the MD-PhD program as a career path instead of solely pursuing an MD. I know that both pathways can lead to extremely different lifestyles, but I can honestly imagine myself in both. Although newer to me, the research life fascinates me and wakes me up every morning, excited to go to work. I cannot wait to continue conducting research in the Pendergast lab. This summer of research has armed me with the lab techniques and confidence I need to jump back in at full force as I progress my research project, and I am so grateful for that.
So, I leave you with my one final, remaining thought of the summer: thank you.