A Day in the Life of a Mechanobiologist

Most of my days begin in White Lecture Hall on East Campus. Here, I meet with my cohort to work through journal articles, talk about different aspects of research life, or hear from distinguished Duke faculty about their research and careers. You can think of this as training. We may not be learning lab techniques or getting an in-depth understanding of a field in this time, but we are training to  think, read and perceive the world as researchers. It’s really an awesome opportunity and is a great way to start the day!

After that, I bike over to West Campus, where my lab is located. I work in the Hoffman Lab, located at the Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering in the  Fitzpatrick Center. Once I’m in lab, I check in with my bench mentor, Curtis Shoyer, (who’s really quite a radical dude!) and get to work with my experiments. With the work I due in molecular cloning, it’s rare for me to be doing experiments all day. More often, I run an experiment and then wait for the reaction to finish or the bacteria to grow before I go on to the next path. Rinse, wash, repeat. I have a little wooden desk in the lab that I retreat to in-between experiments. I may read papers about mechanobiology that Curtis gave me, or I may start working on the computational step for a future experiment.

Throughout the day, I also get to talk to and shadow my mentor Curtis. Sometimes we’ll get lunch together and discuss a journal article to help me develop my understanding of the field. Other times, I get to shadow him on his other research as an introduction of what I’ll get to do later as I progress in the lab. And sometimes, we just talk about science or even the latest Pokémon game!

With that, my day concludes and I head back to East. Usually, I’ll read up on the protocols for the next day or keep gnawing at journal articles (although I do try to find time to get some rest in so I can come back the next day ready and raring to go)! So, this is a day in my shoes: it’s not much, but I love it!

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