Riding the roller-coaster that is Graduate School a far ways from home 万里求学路上的浮尘岁月


Fei Sun and Hazel Zhang at conferences in Europe


Fei and Hazel are two graduate students from the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program. Fei works in the Poss lab and Hazel works in the Alman lab. They have very similar cultural backgrounds and a shared interest in regeneration. Despite such similarities, they have distinct points of views in science and life. Today they share their graduate experiences at Duke:

Fei和Hazel是杜克大学发育与干细胞生物学项目的博士研究生,菲在Dr. Poss的实验室工作,Hazel是Dr. Alman实验室的一员。她们具有相似的文化背景,并且都对组织和器官的修复再生有着浓厚的兴趣;但她们对于科学和生活也都有自己独特的视角和看法。今天让我们来了解一下她们在杜克的求学经历。

Why did you choose your current lab?

你们为什么选择了现在的实验室?

(Fei) I am attracted to the Poss lab because Ken’s science is really conceptual and pioneering. He always focuses on broad questions and has novel ideas. As a graduate student, I am very lucky to be able to initiate a brand-new project based on my own interest. I have the opportunity to build the foundation of my own project from scratch. In addition, the knowledgeable scientific peers in the Poss lab support me grow quickly as a scientist and give me the confidence to face all the challenges in my research.

我(Fei)对Ken的实验室感兴趣最重要的原因是Ken的研究是非常前沿性的和概念性的。 他专注于大的问题并且总会有一些新奇的点子。我觉得最幸运的是在博士期间就可以根据自己的研究兴趣开启一个全新的课题。 与此同时,Ken的实验室里也有一群知识渊博经验丰富的小伙伴支持着我的快速成长,让我更加有信心面对各种挑战。

(Hazel) I joined Ben’s lab because of his scientific ideas, mentoring philosophy, and the lab environment. As a scientist, Ben always has innovative sometimes crazy ideas that would lead the field to a new direction. As a mentor, Ben encourages and supports me to explore different possibilities in my research as well as in life. He provides the training that would be helpful to me regardless of my career choices. In addition, the Alman lab is like a family that everyone supports and cares each other. I am happy in lab every day.

我(Hazel)加入Ben的实验室是因为Ben的科学想法、教育哲学、以及实验室的环境和气氛。作为一个科学家,Ben有很多非常新奇有时候甚至疯狂的点子,这些想法使得他可以把领域的科研带向新的方向。作为导师,无论是在科研还是生活上,Ben都鼓励我去尝试不同的可能性。他所提供的教育会着眼于让我有“成功”的能力,而不局限于成为一个科学家。除此之外,我们的实验室更像是一个大家庭,每一个人都彼此关心、相互支持。因为这些原因,我在实验室的每一天都很快乐。

How are you research experiences in your lab?

你们在实验室的科研经历怎么样?

(Fei) I started with several projects that have open-ended answers. As a new graduate student, such projects were very exciting, but a bit overwhelming. Through those experiences, I learned to ask key questions, manage my time efficiently, and polish my techniques. My current project started at the end of my third year, which left me limited time to accomplish. However, with all previous experiences and Ken’s support, I am able to move quickly and possibly finish it within three years.

(Fei) 我起初尝试过许多开放性和探索性的课题。对于一个新生而言,这样的课题很刺激但是也稍微有点力不从心。但是通过那段时间积累的经验,我学会了如何提出重要的问题,如何管理和安排好自己的时间,同时也磨练了自己的实验技术。我现在的课题是在我博士第三年末开始的。留给我完成课题的时间并不长,但我之前几年接受的训练和Ken的支持让我的课题进展迅速并有望在三年之内完成。

(Hazel) My project focuses on finding therapeutic targets for cartilage tumors. I found that an FDA-approved drug could potentially be redirected to treat these rare diseases. I also found that tumors at different stages could respond to the same treatment distinctively. I also participate in several collaborators’ projects, so that I can work on diverse projects in the field of bone and cancer and build a great publications record.

(Hazel) 我的课题致力于寻找软骨癌的治疗方法。我发现了一个已经被FDA所批准的药物有治疗这些罕见肿瘤的潜力,同时我还发现了不同时期的肿瘤对于同样的治疗有时有着截然不同的作用。在我自己的课题之外,我还参与了许多合作者的科研项目,也因此有机会了解癌症和骨科领域里不同的研究方向并且发表了一些不错的文章。

How do conferences play a part in your graduate school life? 

学术会议对于你们的博士生活有什么样的影响?

(Hazel) Conferences are very important to my Ph.D. training because I could learn about the most cutting-edge research in my field and get helpful advice and feedback from my scientific peers worldwide. In addition, the friends I made at those conferences have helped me a lot both in my research as well as my career development. I have been to Europe and Asia for conferences, but my most memorable experiences are the three conferences in Galveston, Texas. Fortunately, I was elected to be the Chair of the Gordon Research Seminar in Galveston, so I could benefit my coming scientific peers by creating a welcoming supportive environment for them.

(Hazel) 会议在我的博士教育里有着极其重要的作用。每次开会我都可以了解到领域里最新的进展,并且从全世界的同事那里得到很多宝贵的意见和反馈。而且我在各种会议中也交到了非常多的好朋友,他们不仅对我的科研有所助力,在我的职业发展上也有很大的正面影响。我去欧洲和亚洲都开过会,但是我印象最深的还是三次在德州Galveston参加Gordon Research Conference的经历。在2018年的一次会议中,我很幸运地被选为了这一届会议研讨会的主席,这对我以后职业发展非常有帮助,同时我也帮助我的同事们创造一个良好的互相支持的会议环境,让他们在会议里得到最大的收获。

(Fei) I have been to conferences in Europe and several different places in the US. I agree with Hazel that conferences are really beneficial to my research, especially during the project development stage. A lot of the feedback did integrate into my final project. I especially enjoyed smaller conferences with fewer than 100 people because I could have deep conversations with people. I identified many different personalities among the renowned scientists. I find that the scientific community is very diverse and inclusive, and I feel welcome to be part of it.

(Fei) 我参加过一些在美国以及欧洲举行的学术会议。 我很认同Hazel提到的,这些学术会议对我的科研本身帮助很大,特别是在课题的发展阶段。很多会议上得到的建议都最终融入进了我自己的课题中。我特别喜欢一些小而精的会议,因为在这样的会议上很容易有机会和一些著名的科学家进行深度的交流。我看到了这些科学家迥异不同的性格,并感到了这个学术领域的多样性和包容性。

What do you like doing in your spare time?

你在闲暇时间都喜欢做些什么?

(Fei) At Duke, I picked up my music instrument, Gu Qin (an ancient Chinese instrument), after four years of college. I am lucky enough to find a famous musician from China in Cary, NC. I have been polishing my skills and have given many performances in North Carolina with the guidance of her. Music can transcend all boundaries and bridge people with different culture background. I hope I can bring this important part of Chinese culture to more audience in the US and attract more and more people to Chinese history and culture through my music.

(Fei) 来到杜克之后,我捡起了我在大学里丢下了四年的古琴 (一件历史越久的中国乐器)。我很幸运,能够在北卡找到一位来自中国的音乐家。在她的指导下,我开始磨练我的演奏技术并参与了很多当地的音乐演出。音乐可以跨越一切界线,将不同文化背景的人紧紧相连。我希望我能够将中国文化中很重要的这一部分带给更多的美国观众并通过我的音乐吸引更多的人了解中国的历史和文化。

(Hazel) I enjoy doing science education in my spare time. To prepare myself for it, I took the Science Communication course at Duke and served as a teaching assistant for that course afterward. Earlier last year, I gave a small lecture and lab demonstration to a group of underrepresented minority middle school students in collaboration with RNI. This event was to encourage the students to purse research careers in STEM. I also translate scientific articles to Chinese for an online education website Guokr. I think science is more valuable when the public could understand and appreciate it.

(Hazel) 我在空闲时间很喜欢做科普教育。为了更专业更有效地进行科普,我上了一门旨在帮助理工科学生更好的进行科学交流的课程,之后我还担任了那门课的助教。去年早些时候,我和RNI合作给一些少数族裔的中学生们上了一节实验课,希望能激发他们对科学的兴趣,并鼓励他们以后选择理工科相关的职业。平时我还会给一个中文的科普平台果壳网翻译文章。我认为大众对科学的理解和支持会让我们的科研变得更有价值。

How does the Ph.D. training shape you as a person?

PhD 对于你的人生有什么影响?

(Hazel) I learned to be resilient to failure. Doing research is like riding the rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. I believe the ability to identify the root cause for failure and address those problems will help me succeed in my future life and career. Another important thing I learned from my PhD is self-education. There are a lot of novel techniques and knowledge in all disciplines, especially in the field of research. However, we will leave a school in one day. Being able to find the right resources and self-educate is very important.

(Hazel) PhD的经历让我面对失败的时候变得更加坚韧了。科学研究就像是坐过山车,充满了忽上忽下的起伏。我觉得能从失败中发现问题并解决问题的能力,对我未来的人生和事业都会有很大的帮助。通过PhD的训练,我还获得了自我学习的能力。在各行各业,尤其是科研领域,每天都有许多新的技术和知识。我们总有一天要离开学校,因此,能够找到正确的资源并进行自我学习是非常重要的。

(Fei) I learned that process is more valuable than results. Not all the experiments would have expected results. However, I learned to extract useful information from the unexpected ones and solve problems. The skills I gained are more important to the next stage of my life. Furthermore, such experiences give me more courage to face future challenges in my life, because I know that I gain the most from the process.

(Fei) PhD让我明白很多事情过程往往比结果更加重要。不是所有的实验都会获得预期的结果,但是在这些过程中,我学会了积极的面对那些意外的实验结果,并从意外的结果中提取有用的信息,从而帮助我努力寻找解决问题的办法。这些在面对问题和解决问题的过程中收获的能力会让我获益终生。更重要的是,这些经历让我更加勇敢的面对人生道路上的挑战,因为我知道我会在每一次迎接挑战的过程中快速的成长。

 

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