CURF 3: My Experiences

I have truly enjoyed my time within the CURF program. It is been interesting to learn about other projects and see what type of research my peers are working on. I also feel that being exposed to other’s work makes me think of new questions or ideas I can apply to my own research, which makes it stronger and more complete. I hope that my own work was able to elicit new questions or ideas for them to apply to their research. 

Overall, research is a long and tedious process. It is often repetitious and all consuming, so it is quite easy to get caught up in the work and become frustrated if things are not going well. I experienced this for myself first hand this semester, as much of the project I had been working on required repetitious techniques, which sometimes fail leaving me with no other option but to restart the process. There were days when I would spend hours performing multiple techniques, but at the end I would be no closer to completing the project as the particular technique I was using produced unsatisfactory results repeatedly. This was very discouraging and difficult, as an undergraduate you are very busy, so to spend time and not make any process was frustrating. When I would see these unsatisfactory results, I would just want to spend the rest of the day at the lab trying to get the technique to work, but I soon realized this is not what to do. The research process is long, and because of this you are surely going to run into difficulties. When this occurs, it is best to step back and take a break. Go home and try to forget about it, then come back the next time ready to do what is needed. Not only does this make you less upset and frustrated, but it also increases the chances that you move past these difficulties and figure out what is wrong. 

I found it helpful to reach out to my graduate student mentor as well. Anything that I have had trouble with is something he has surely experienced as well at least once within his time in the lab. Not only does seeking help from them increase the chances that the issue is solved, but it makes you feel better. Completing research, especially own you own, can feel lonely and isolating. When you talk to someone else who has experienced the same issues and difficulties as you, it makes you understand that it is normal to struggle and that you will eventually get past these troubles. 

Now that my CURF is over, I plan to continue working in my lab on the same type of work, but expanding to new projects. I would like to do this work under some type of research fellowship throughout the summer. 

A 20x image of an ovine aortic valve picrosirius red stain revealing collagen.

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