10 weeks of pure grinding, unadulterated lab work, and some lunches with Arjun and Shreya here and there. BUT WE FINALLY DID IT! After 10 weeks, I gotta say, I’m gonna miss this. What am I talking about, I’m gonna be here until the summer starts thanks to the amazing science of microRNAs and the fact that I still have to check in with my professor about my paper. To be honest, there’s not much to update project wise, because all I basically have to do is finish my paper and my presentation. However, I will elaborate on overall experience at this lab throughout the 10-week interval.
Firstly, I came into this lab ready and excited to do cancer research. While that vigor has not been lost, I envy the patience and endurance of the researchers at my lab who have been doing this for decades, especially my professor who’s been conducting multiple cancer research projects for almost 37 years. Now I am fully aware that I will be doing research of my own in college, but now I know truly understand how demanding any type of scientific research is. Focus, Determination, Patience, Decisiveness…all skills and characteristics researchers must have to produce something useful to the world. I also have experienced a few setbacks, like the on from a few weeks ago. Now setbacks are almost an inevitability. I try to avoid them, but if they come up, I learned that there’s no use crying over spilled milk. This is where the decisiveness factors in. Okay, I made a mistake, but what do I do now? Do I sulk over the delays it’s caused or do I break my head over something I should’ve been more careful about? Maybe initially, but I now understand that the faster I recover from these mistakes, the faster I make progress. One post-doc at my lab told me “Failures are a 95% certainty in the lab, but make learning from mistakes a 200% certainty.” What she meant was basically learn from mistakes and they wont happen in the future.
When it comes to the communication part of the research, which is writing a paper or presenting one’s results to the “higher ups” in the lab, university, or organization, I never knew how difficult it was until I started writing it. Even though we’ve written our own lab reports throughout high school, research papers are a whole different ballgame. What I’ve realized is that, it’s easier to do the research than to talk about it, because there are two separate audiences – people who know what DMEM is and people who don’t. If you’re reading this, you’ll know which group you’re in. I was often confused on how to make my paper and presentation detailed enough that the latter group would understand, while superficial enough that I wouldn’t be missing essential points necessary for the former group to know. There’s always that balance…”perfectly balanced as all things should be” – Thanos 2018.
Experience is key. Now that I have successfully pretty much finished my first research project, I will be going into college knowing the requirements in skill and intelligence needed to do any biological research. For those of you reading this who are younger than me, I hope this week’s blog, as well as the previous 9 posts, have given you some idea of what it will be like to do research in a lab. Be ready, because you’ll be doing this soon! Now to the rest of the seniors who were interested enough to read this, I wish you all the best in the last week or two of your project and I look forward to your presentations!