You’ll Never Know if You Don’t Go, You’ll Never Shine if You Don’t Glow

What a summer it’s been! I honestly feel like I’ve aged 5 years this summer, but in a good way. No more am I the freshman with no lab skills who can’t cook for herself to save her life.

From my humble beginnings of accidentally dropping a mouse on the floor and getting bitten by BM046 (alias El Diablo), I’ve grown so much as a scientist and a person during my time with the Mooney lab. Growth isn’t really something you realize until you’re looking retrospectively, so I didn’t notice how far I’d come until about week 7. Creating the poster and presenting it in lab meeting and at the poster session really helped me realize how much I learned about vocal communication, mouse courtship behavior, and how helium turns it all upside down. Though I definitely wouldn’t call myself an expert, I gained so much knowledge in a very niche topic of science and gradually got better at communicating it to others. As Dr. G says, science means nothing if you don’t communicate it, and presentation has never been one of my strong suits. But it’s been so gratifying to watch myself grow from giving a half-informed, nervous chalk talk in week 4 to holding my ground during a 45-minute lab meeting presentation in week 8. If you ever need to know ANYTHING about helium affecting mouse ultrasonic vocalizations, I’m your girl.

But besides my new arsenal of intellectual knowledge and laboratory skills, being in a lab surrounded by cool people has just been so much fun. We aren’t workers in cubicles, competing for promotions and passive aggressively shading each other. We’re friends, and I’m thankful the Mooney lab welcomed my shy self into the silliness that punctuates the work day and makes that 9-5 (or sometimes 8-8) just a little more fun. Katie and Valerie had to make a video abstract explaining innate vocalizations, and filmed us all laughing exaggeratedly and crying loudly in the conference room. Marios had a particularly feisty bird that wrestled its way out of his hand and zoomed around the lab for a few minutes, which is apparently pretty common but freaked me out at first. On Jordan’s last day, we got arepas from Guasaca and took a long lunch filled with jokes and fond memories to send him off.

I said it in my very first blog post, but this summer truly cemented what I know about my career, so I’ll say it in all caps: I WANT TO BE A SCIENTIST! Thank you BSURF for being the experience that confirmed my career goals, the springboard for my future, and the best way I could’ve spent my summer. Thank you Dr. Mooney and my mentor Tom for taking on a shy freshman and helping her grow into a confident, inquisitive scientist. Thank you Dr. G for the pep talks and advice along the way and Anna for tirelessly working to feed us breakfast and keep us entertained. Finally, thank you to my fellow bsurfers for making the hours outside of the 9-5 unforgettable. From the food truck rodeo to donut floaties in the Eno Quarry, it was so fun to explore Durham and get to know you all. I can’t wait to see your careers evolve, have an amazing rest of your summers!

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