Final Stage: Thank You

During the poster presentation Friday, someone approached me and told me that he had read many of these blogs and liked my style, applauding my writing. Before I could really grasp that he was not simply after the 30-second rundown of my poster I had laboriously perfected the prior night, he continued through the parade of posters ephemerally as I squeaked a meek ‘thank you.’

I say it so dreamily because it certainly was one of the most touching experiences this summer, right with seeing my entire lab flood into the hall, looking around for me and Christine (who also presented under the Summer Neuroscience Program). It was somewhere in that moment that I realized they had become my family- a clutter of familar voices cutting through the mob and somehow I already know what they’re saying. An ineffable feeling that Dr. Colton is in front, like a flag-bearer in her blue blazar, and somewhere lagging behind is Hui Fang glancing around. Stuart, now unaddled by the broken A/C of the lab, is out of his lab coat and in a buttoned shirt- plaid -and shorts as things should be, and notices me first along with Angela. Joan wastes no time walking closer, steering the group in my direction, including Kendra undistracted by all the other flashy posters. Like the 5th grade science fair where your parents came despite having work, except with so, so many more questions about the science and not the closest bathroom. As BSURF concludes, I realized how many memories and experiences I have tied to this summer, and how many people I wish to thank beyond a 10′ by 5′ poster corner could.

Thank you Dr. Grunwald and Jason Long. I think you both are entirely aware of how impactful this program can be because you watch it happen every year, but for repeated emphasis, this summer has been LIFE-CHANGING. Perhaps not in a existential manner, but definitely in a navigational one. From working behind the scenes with food, finances, and fun to arranging informative experiences and talks, both of you have helped us tremendously to stay on track while still being so tolerant and flexible. I really enjoyed getting to know both of you these two months, especially in this environment where your mentorship skills really thrived. Interviewing with Dr. Grunwald had me in complete admiration from the start- both from his office’s many reptilian tanks and his scientific authority -and this has only continued to grow around your charisma towards students, and Jason’s welcoming and attentive chats. Although I had some trouble with my chalk talk, there was no dip in support, and in that atmosphere, how could I not learn to improve, to present, to communicate.

Thank you to Dr. Colton and my lab. Everyone has been incredibly friendly and helpful these two months: answering endless swarms of questions, guiding me towards what goals I should have, casual conversations and parties, and tireless jokes about my sleeping habits in and out of lab. Quite honestly, this has been the undergraduate lab experience I dreamed of, an appropriate balance of independence and mentorship, fascinating research topics with several directions that convene regularly, mellow lab environment without pressure to perform, and meetings to reinforce professionalism and ambitions while remaining friendly. I do mean it quite seriously when I claim everyone as like family, and that includes our now-gone, infant (or perhaps fetus would be more accurate?) Taylor (Good luck on college applications and the SAT/ACT!). I have picked up much from being around everyone, such as how to interact with lab members and the path to designing one’s own project about a topic. Even the finer nuances of the lab like project timelines, lab presentations, reagant costs, and technical tips and tricks to spitting out 5 Westerns in a week. I have so much more I’d like to attribute to everyone, but there will be plenty of time for me to pester the lab with them, since I will be sticking around for three more years to further look into UK114 🙂 See you in a month!

Thank you to my audience! This includes my peers, other researchers, and yes, those reading my blogs! I know how long these posts are- apologies -but I would like to ramble a bit more on how grateful I am for your support and future interactions. It is somewhat strange for me to process that my vehicle for transcribing my thoughts and project directions has actually been reviewed by a professional audience, and apparently enjoyed. Those small moments really are both moving and exciting, alerting me to just how interactive a community research can be. I hope to continue working hard to impress those looking on without deviating too far from my current style.

Weekly Highlights

“What is your name?”- a random PI grabbing a drink at the same time I was at the BioCore symposium whose name I unfortunately did not catch
“Oh, Dang”-Dang
“And where are you from, sir?”-PI
“South Carolina?”-Dang
“Oh are you from MUSC? (the Medical University of South Carolina)”-PI
“OH! Oh no. I am an undergrad.”-Dang *strangely explaining that he is not a medical student for the third time this year*

“IT’S FREEZING”-Stuart running around in lab coats for warmth trying to find out how to fix the thermostat

“Hey, Hui Fang, do you want to join a luncheon for my program?”-Dang
“What? Really?”-Hui Fang
“Uh, yeah”-Dang
“Really?!”-Hui Fang

“Good morning?”-Joan opening lab at 6 am
“Good morning Joan :)”-Dang cracking open his third Western gel
“…How long have you been here”-Joan
“I never left”-Dang

“You should sleep more Dang!”-Christine
“I feel so rested though!”-Dang
“You fell asleep three separate times during the talk”-Taylor

“What is that green ice cream?”-Marilyn
“I think it’s green tea?”-Angela
“It’s got some weird off green color. Oh Dang got some, how is it?”-Stuart
“…it has…like…no real flavor?? It is green tea I think”-Dang on his third bowl of it

“So like, no ulterior motive or anything, but could you hypothetically drink the 200 proof ethanol?”-Dang with serious but innocent inquiries
“Uh, I think? I think I asked that question when I was new too.”-Stuart

“Stuart what would weird black orbs in your culture mean?”-Dang
“Oh, is there an infection? What do they look like?”-Stuart
“Well I think they’re yeast, but they’re like orbish and black. Really round. Here let me show you, I caught it and cultured it in a well”-Dang
“You what”-Stuart
—-later—
“So, I accidentally treated the same well with hydrogen peroxide meant for one of my experiments, so I think I killed them all”-Dang
“What? Are you sure they weren’t debris or anything?-Stuart
“Yeah it definitely wasn’t! There were a ton of them and they were all different sizes!”-Dang
“Hmm, well show me if you find them again I guess?”-Stuart
—later—
“So, it turns out Stuart, that they were just bubbles”-Dang
“What the heck haha you had me worried. You were trying to grow bubbles?”-Stuart

SUMMER BLOOPERSHIGHLIGHTS

*in the midst of Lefkowitz’s talk about his career*
“Oh god I left the hot plate on”-Dang as he nervously begins staring at the clock for when he can run back to lab

“Oh thank god it didn’t explode”-Dang finding the hotplate still on with the bowl of water completely evaporated
*bowl shatters*

“zzz”-Dang asleep while waiting for chemiluminescent exposure time
*Hui Fang softly knocking outside the locked imaging room for 5 minutes*

“Now just carefully….”-Dang cracking open his first Western gel
*gel case shatters*
“…stab the gel with shrapnel…”-Dang
“How did the Western go?”-Hui Fang
“Did you learn how to solve jigsaw puzzles in your other lab?”-Dang turning around with 5 scraps of gel

“Wow we’re back at lab already?”-Dang
“You were snoring right after we left Dr. Colton’s house”-Joan

Are you a student here?”-a high schooler touring through the Bryan Research Building
“Yes, I am! A rising second-year”-Dang
“Oh wow, where did you go for undergrad?”-high schooler
“Oh, um. I actually am still an undergrad…Do I look that old?”-Dang

So you’re only a first-year?”-Dr. Colton
“Yup!”-Dang
“Well, our lab is always open to having medical students onboard!”-Dr. Colton
“Oh. Oh no. I’m an undergraduate.”-Dang’s first interaction with Dr. Colton ever (actually in October)

Funding provided by Duke University Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. THANK YOU BSURF!!!! 

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