End of First Week, but Only a Start to a Great Summer!

I have never doubted that I would be a biology major coming into college. However, at Duke, the many branches of this discipline make me both beyond fascinated and somewhat confused (what to focus on?!?!). I am so excited and thankful that I can have this chance through BSURF to explore neurobiology this summer at Mooney Lab. As I embark on this journey, I want to write down some goals and expectations.

While I had experience working in labs before, most of my work consisted of field work in an ecology setting. There were also very important field techniques that I had to learn–such as sweeping honey bees from their frames into a bucket, shaking the bucket strategically and scooping the bees into a jar to do sugar shake varroa test or collecting and staining stigmas. But when I stepped into my lab this Monday, I realized that the set of skills and the scale that we are work on are simply so different from what I used to get trained in. So far my brilliant mentor has already taught me a variety of techniques that require great precision and patience. It is so cool, too, that many of them apply what I learned in BIO201 this spring. This summer, I hope not just to learn as much neurobiology knowledge as possible, but also to learn and to eventually perform various techniques confidently and independently. I understand that it takes a lot of time and energy to train new people. I am very grateful that my mentor has been there for me. I hope I can become helpful and make positive contributions to the lab as well.

Additionally, I want to become more and more comfortable working with mice in the sense that they can feel comfortable when I handle them. I feel privileged working with and learning from these animals, and I want to make it as stressless as it could be for them, too.

Since this is a new field of biology for me, I want to develop my communication skills, especially through asking questions and discussing experimental setups/progress with others. Both inside and outside the lab, I hope to learn what others are working on and how they become interested in what they are doing. Dr. Telen’s journey in science amazed me. Her talk made me determined to take the initiative to learn more inspiring stories from other people.

When I started this week, one of my biggest goals for the summer is to explore a new area of biology and see whether I like it. Five days later, I already know that I’m so so happy I get to study in Mooney Lab. I am so fascinated by what I’ve learned in the lab so far and I can’t wait to continue learning here during the rest of the summer (and hopefully even after this summer)!

Me next to the habituation station!


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