Semester Reflection: Two-Yard Runs

At the beginning of this semester my Principal Investigator, Dr. Samer Tohme, stressed that this process would require a lot of patience. He emphasized that progress in research is slow, occasionally frustrating, and anything but linear. He compared it to running the ball in football. There were going to be a lot of two-yard runs, short gains that aren’t pretty or glamorous but are still positive. He was entirely right and, funny enough, that’s been my favorite part of this process. 

These past several months have been chock full of “two-yard run” moments. I’ve had so many days where I’ve worked hard for hours only to yield a result that is not what I thought it would be. As Dr. Richard L. Simmons would say in our lab meetings, “no result is a bad result”. As time went on, I learned to accept that he was right. While discouraging, there was always a great deal to learn every time I did a procedure. These setbacks and unexpected outcomes taught me to really harp on every detail. Details. Details. Details. What was I doing? Why was I doing it? Why wouldn’t this step be done in a different way? How could I have done better? Going back, being accountable, and meticulously reevaluating was tough but only made me better. 

While the learning curve has definitely been steep, I’ve rarely repeated the same mistakes. To stick with the football metaphor, after piecing together a bunch of “two-yard run” days, I was able to look back and see that I had moved the ball down the field. It gave me a sense of real pride and palpable accomplishment. I was able to look back and realize that I had learned and grown tremendously. I had grown in my knowledge, attention to detail, and most importantly ability to properly execute and adapt as necessary. This feeling has continued to drive me forward and made this semester truly gratifying.

A sample of grafted Mouse liver tissue being used for protein extraction and isolation.

I wanted to conclude this final blog post by really just thanking Dr. David Geller, Dr. Samer Tohme, Dr. Hamza Yazdani, Dr. Christof Kaltenmeier, and Kristin Morder. Everything in this lab was, and is, a meritocracy. If I arrive prepared, the procedure goes better. If I ask good questions, I get good answers. If I take detailed notes, more information is shared with me. If I show that I am capable of handling more, more is put on my plate. 

As I continue to work in the Starzl Institute, I am excited and grateful to keep learning and growing. I’ve really enjoyed this process and hope to continue it for years to come. I appreciate the CURF allowing me to have this experience.

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