My expectations for this summer research experience are all about discovery, particularly about myself, science, and my relationship with science. Sure, there will be ups and downs, breakups and makeups, but, as with most things, the experience tends to be worthwhile.
As for discovery of myself, there are somethings I hope to learn: how do I function within a laboratory setting? Do I ask enough questions? Do I ask the right ones, and the right person to answer them? What should I do if I need help, and do I realize when I need help? Should I try to be more confident in what I do or say, or should I be more cautious? Are the notes I take useful? The lab setting is something so different from what I’m used to (especially since I’ve never had a job before), that I feel as if I’m going to need to learn a new set of skills or refine those I already have to really thrive in this environment, but before I can do that, I first need to have a better understanding of what I need to work on for myself. I hope I begin to develop an idea of those things throughout this summer.
Then there’s discovery of science, which comes with its other set of expectation. There have been a variety of papers that I’ve been suggested to read, and others I’ve found on my own that I thought would be helpful or interesting. As I progress through the summer, I hope that I’ll become more accustomed to the language used in these papers so I won’t have to stop every couple of sentences to look up what a particular phase or jumble of letters mean, and subsequently become distracted by other interesting research papers. Additionally, it’s nice to be able to understand what others in the lab are talking about so I can participate in discussion. I also hope that perhaps I might come across something in the literature that sparks an idea for research of my own to do in the future.
Lastly, thought most importantly, there’s how science and I interact with one another, since, after all, research is a two-way street. Not only do we impact science through every bit of research we do, either successful or unsuccessful, by showing what works and what doesn’t, but also science impacts how we analyze the world around us and can become heavily integrated into our lives. What I expect from these internship more than anything is insight into whether or not this kind of lab-focused science is the right one for me, or if research is for certain what I wish to dedicate my life to. Perhaps I won’t find that answer in a mere 8 weeks, but at the very least I expect that it might help turn me in the direction that I’m better suited for, whether it be lab work or another broad area of science. So far, I feel pretty at home in the lab, but there’s still a ways to go.
Anyway, here’s me using a microscope to look at some sea urchin embryos that I was practicing injecting with fluorescent dye:
And here’s a bonus photo of a small, scaly friend (broad-headed or five-lined skink?) I found sunning in the garden earlier this week: