99%Q & 1%A – Part Two

This was the title of my first blog, foreshadowing the ratio of the questions and answers I would gain over the summer. These questions were made apparent within my curiosity-memory project, but more importantly, in the methods and mindsets to which I approach the unknown. 

In my project, my mentor Abby and I had three primary hypotheses—one would be supported, two would be refuted. My mentor and I were mildly stunned by the latter outcomes; the results didn’t corroborate past literature, stumping us during data analysis. Yet after closer examination and a discussion with my PI, Dr. Adcock, I now realize how much continues to remain hidden in the field of research. As research is fundamentally centered around discovery, it is inevitable that we will experience uncertainty in different ways. We can search for an answer, but sometimes the unknown finds you first. As such, we’ve switched just a few gears, and we now hope to examine self-certainty and confidence within our paradigm.

Even with the data disproving our hypotheses, there was truly nothing comparable to the feeling of seeing your results for the first time. For me, the first look was messy, a massive spreadsheet of data that loomed over me; a final boss before obtaining the treasure. Parsing through the data was gratifying, every line of code ultimately leading to a clean graph and a sense of coherence. Only once I’d obtained a graph did I realize the extent of my work this summer, and it was when my laptop spit out that first p-value that I realized that I had stumbled upon discovery. During my interview with Dr. Adcock, she mentioned that there really is nothing like discovery, but only now do I truly understand the extent of her words.

Even so, science isn’t only success. There were days when work was slow, days where I needed help. Collaboration and communication were repeatedly emphasized by Dr. Grunwald, and these qualities were apparent in every faculty talk, every time I asked my mentor to debug my code, and whenever my newfound friends and I would forget a crucial ingredient while making dinner. Through the BSURF programming, I’ve focused my sights. I have a few new goals, such as how I’d like to work in a wet lab setting sometime in the future so that I can experience all that exists in the research field. I have a few new questions, such as do I want to go into academia, or do I want to practice medicine? Do I want to do neurobiology or neurobiology? Do I love working with humans or cells or mice or computers? Yet even with these questions pressing up on me, I’ve become more comfortable with experiencing the unknown. For now, my primary goal is to follow my project through till the end, and I can’t wait to begin the secondary phase once I return for the school year.

I’d like to thank my mentor Abby for her help since the first day I stepped into the lab. She was truly the guiding force behind this project, and I couldn’t have done it without her. I’d like to thank all the members in the lab for their support and encouragement; seeing you all at the poster session truly made my day. Thank you, Dr. Adcock, for taking me in and making my summer research experience possible. Thank you to Anna for the amazing guidance and help over the course of eight weeks, and thank you to Dr. Grunwald for letting us play with/handle your snakes (and of course, being an incredible leader and program director). As I continue to explore new challenges and discoveries, successes and failures, I’ll remember the mentors and the experiences that first propelled me into the unknown.

   

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