I Currently work at Palladino lab’s, and this will be my third year there. My freshman year I was eager to get into a lab setting, so I looked into any opportunities I could get. I found a work-study position in Dr. Palladino’s lab shortly after. During this time, I took care of cleaning the bench tops, making Drosophila media, and working with fly stocks. As time went on, I pursued more research-based roles, I started of writing literature reviews and other smaller tasks which would prepare me for the project I am currently working on. Over this past summer I also participated in the SURP here at Pitt. I wanted to spend this time to really get involved in the research done by Dr. Palladino’s lab. The experience was fantastic, and I got to really know the other lab members. I spent my time helping to characterizing a novel mouse model for TPI deficiency, and learned a lot of the core skills needed in a lab. This was the first I have ever been emersed in a lab setting full time, the work was interesting and very independently driven. For those who are looking to gain experience in the lab and don’t know where to start, here is my advice. Don’t be afraid to work your way up, you will most likely not begin an amazing project your first day. Take time to get to know the lab, the people in it and the work they do. Show enthusiasm and participate where you can, regardless of what it is. If you’re having problems finding a lab, try reaching out to as many PI’s as possible and stay consistent.
The time I have spent in the lab has definitely shaped my professional goals. In the beginning of my undergraduate career, I was set on going to medical school. However, after participating in research and talking to graduates’ students in the lab, I hope to apply to graduate school to study biochemistry. I like the idea of studying the unknown and doing this type of unique work. Additionally, I feel like there is a lot more independence in graduate school then there would be in medical school. I like the combination of classes and lab work, which allows to learn and also use what you learn in a creative way. Working in a lab and gaining experience is definitely a critical component before making the decision of going to graduate school. It has given me a glimpse of what it is like, additionally this type of experience is appealing to admission boards. I am grateful for the ability to do this type of work; it is not something everybody gets to do.