One of the unique things about the HSRF is that although it is specialized around the health sciences, there is still so much diversity under that umbrella. Although I enjoy my lab work in structural biology, there is still so much else out there that I know I could be interested in. From the other fellowship recipients I hope to expand my awareness of the different types of research and research environments out there. Similarly, I want to learn more about how each student found their way to their current research position and how they plan to move forward with research in the future. There is no one path to a fulfilling research career, and I would like to keep my mind open to the different paths to success.
Overarchingly, almost all of us in the HSRF are doing similar types of work. In most cases there is a wet lab piece, but with various other components of surgery, modeling, and animal involvement. In many ways these differences are due to the different stages we are at in the research process. For instance, eventually the molecular genetics work I perform will be utilized in studies with mouse models and eventually in humans, but for other students, they are already performing work in the mouse model phase. Particularly, I found Julia W’s work with the model organisms C. elegans interesting because of the organisms similarities to humans. Although they are worms, their gene regulation is very similar to that of humans. I work with E. coli and although it is efficient for things like protein expression, it is not very functionally comparable to humans. Pursuing structural biology in relation to C. elegans may be something interesting to consider in the future.
When it comes to working with people across disciplines I feel it is almost always beneficial to all involved. In the HSRF we all have a general biology background but with slightly different perspectives. Receiving feedback about a stuck-point from someone slightly or even greatly outside your field can often produce the insight needed to move forward. Often we get too consumed in our own work to see other avenues to solve a problem. Interdisciplinary research groups can help elucidate these other paths. However, when working with people not directly in your field communication can often be difficult. At times it may be difficult to explain the nuances necessary to fully understand a specific research problem. Regardless, different perspectives are always important and obstacles can be overcome.