My time in the lab this semester has led to me developing greatly as a scientist. If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that not every experiment leads to the results you were hoping to see, and that is ok. I have been met with inconclusive results after hours of hard work, which is always disappointing, but that’s science— trial and error. Although it may seem like all the time spent meticulously planning and executing the experiment was all for nothing, the experience is extremely valuable. I have learned to think critically and analyze what aspects of my experiments should be modified for next time. I know it sounds cliche, but the saying “failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a part of success” (Arianna Huffington) is very true, especially in research. My advice for any undergraduate researchers struggling with a similar situation is to remember that research is not easy and you are not alone. It takes a lot of resilience and willpower to continue going after facing setbacks, but there are resources available to help. The other undergrads, grad students, postdocs, and your PI have likely experienced similar things. They are available to sit down with you and discuss your experimental design or help you come up with new ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Now that the semester is coming to an end, I am continuing to focus on my research on Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis Type 1 (PFIC1). This term, I have continued characterizing the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) I derived from patients with PFIC1, as well as doing some immunofluorescence and qPCR analyses of hepatocytes derived from these iPSCS. With support from the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, I have developed professionally as a researcher these past few months, both in terms of technical skills and scientific communication. I will continue working on my project in the Spring, moving closer to generating an iPSC derived model of PFIC1. My experience as an undergraduate researcher thus far has confirmed my decision to go into research post-graduation. After graduating from Pitt in 2023 with majors in molecular biology and sociology, I plan on matriculating into an MD/PhD program and studying liver disease. My ultimate goal is to become a physician-scientist, applying my scientific and clinical experiences to create translational therapies for patients suffering with liver disease. I’m very excited to see what the future holds!