My BSURF experience has been incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.
Having grasped certain techniques, as well as a bigger picture understanding of how to plan out experiments, I now feel that I can independently ask and answer a pretty wide range of scientific questions in my lab. Considering how dependent I felt on my mentor at the beginning of the summer, this achievement seems very special indeed.
As a whole, the summer gave me a small taste of the mixed emotions that I imagine all scientists experience: the frustration that comes with a series of negative results, and the great satisfaction of finally making a significant breakthrough. After several weeks of optimizing my techniques, it started to seem as though the link I was exploring – a regulatory connection between ABL kinases and SLC7A11 – might not exist after all. Eventually, after I had convinced myself that I was most definitely wasting my time by continuing to pursue this project, I was able to show that ABL kinase inhibition does in fact cause a reduction in SCL7A11 protein levels, confirming the connection. This experience showed me the importance of sticking with a project even if you get discouraging results along the way, rather than immediately replacing it with something new.
I am very grateful to have participated in such a well-organized program and to have worked in such an outstanding lab. Thank you to Dr. Grunwald and Jason for giving me this opportunity, and for all their support throughout the summer. And of course, thank you to Dr. Pendergast and my mentor, Jill, for guiding me through my first real research experience. I look forward to continuing to work in the Pendergast lab next semester!