My understanding of research has changed greatly as my projects have progressed. One of the main aspects of research I had to come to terms with was dealing with failure and making mistakes. Over the course of my research experience, I have made SO many mistakes. Some have been small mistakes that are relatively insignificant and can be easily fixed, and others have been very big mistakes that ruin the experiment. Dealing with this can be difficult- I feel bad for having to start the entire experiment over again, as it took time and effort for multiple people to do. However, my PI always says that you won’t learn unless you make mistakes. It took me some time to realize this, but it is true! Making mistakes requires you to think critically about your approach and experiment, and encourages you to keep improving for the better. This is what has primarily changed my understanding of research; research is about constantly staying curious and learning, improving, and persisting. In this way, it is about much more than just science, even though the science is definitely what makes it interesting.
Some resources I found helpful were mainly the other people in the lab. My PI and my lab technician especially help me with any questions I have. They also offer great general advice about careers and schooling. Other resources include other student researchers. Talking to other undergraduates that are involved in research has broadened my scope on the many different types of research out there. My main advice to new researchers is to reach out to people and ask them questions and advice!
As CURF comes to an end, I am hoping to still continue with my research project, integrating all of the values and advice I have read from the other CURF member’s blog posts! Over the summer, I will continue my research involvement at NIH in Maryland where I am hoping to learn and gain more experience that I can bring back with me to the lab I work at here in Pittsburgh. Additionally, I am hoping to focus more on pursuing the medical field. My research will no doubt aid me in this, as my work and studies on HPV and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma will provide me with a holistic view of the molecular causes and biomarkers of diseases that I may one day see if I am able to work in health care.
I have attached an image of my immunoblot staining! This procedure is to observe protein expression levels.