After the blur that is the end of spring semester, I find myself writing on Duke’s now-silent East Campus, with weeks of research ahead of me. This summer, I am continuing my work at the Silva Lab, which focuses on elucidating ubiquitin’s role in the cellular response to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress often underlies disease, so understanding how cells respond, specifically through mapping relevant cellular pathways, could lead to the development of tools that promote the wellbeing of cells. Yeast is the primary model organism I will be working with.
My goals and expectations for my time at the Silva Lab focus mainly on my development as a scientist. Firstly, I hope to become a more independent, contributing member of my lab. Seven weeks is a very, very short amount of time in the world of biological research. Nevertheless, I look forward to investing time and energy in a project that I can be proud of and perhaps continue during my time at Duke. Secondly, I want to become a more confident lab member, from my understanding of the literature I read to the quality of the data I produce. Lastly, I want to become a more critical and questioning scientist. In many introductory STEM courses, we tend to accept teachings as absolute truths. In the world of research, scientists must be critical of everything they observe and must support their findings with as many different methods as possible. Through BSURF, I hope that I can continue to shift my mindset from passively accepting to engaged and skeptical.
The prospect of full-time research is both exciting and daunting. As I look to the summer with the excitement that comes from potentially learning something new about the natural world, I worry about whether or not I will be good at it or how this experience will shape my career. For the time being, I hope to put these worries aside and focus on personal growth. When I think of the scientist I hope to become, these are the qualities I most hope to embody: independence, confidence, collaboration, and skepticism. If I can make concrete steps towards becoming this scientist, I will consider BSURF a success.