Photo taken from Biomedical Science Tower 3
I had no doubts that being placed with fellow students researching the health sciences would enrich my own experience this summer, and so far, this has proven to be true. I have (and hope to continue to) learn about other students’ research fields, inquiries, and methods. The ability to learn from others in this way is, in my opinion, both a benefit and an obstacle. I haven’t had the luck of meeting many other student researchers, so this group has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge into fields I know little about, hear descriptions of unfamiliar protocols, and ponder questions I never would have known to ask. We have also shared personal outlooks on research and professional aspirations. We benefit from having a range of ages in the group, from rising sophomores to fifth-years. This, combined with the fact that some people are newer to research than others, means that we’re able to share our perspectives from different stages in our undergraduate careers.
Yet, sometimes these discussions themselves can be challenging. Something we have worked on each time we’ve met is improving our communication when talking about science. It is harder to be aware of using jargon and acronyms than you would think! Some terms are in our vocabulary, and we use them when talking to others in the lab, but we have to remember that they mean nothing to other people, including other health science researchers. Additionally, the ability to concisely explain any background knowledge that may be necessary for understanding one’s project is invaluable, otherwise, you may end up turning an elevator pitch into a speech just a Powerpoint presentation shy of an hour-long lecture.
I didn’t realize initially that with just ten undergraduates in the health sciences, the discussion could range so widely. Some of us wish to pursue medicine, while others hope to continue in research. Our majors also vary; the cohort is not a homogenous group of Biology students. While HSRF is more specific than the Brackenridge fellowship, our projects are still so different from one another. The projects most similar to mine may be Juliana’s. We are both studying regeneration, using mouse models, and methods of tissue staining. But while I am looking at regenerations of neurons in the olfactory system, she is looking at muscle cell regeneration. While I am testing the effects of odor enrichment and deprivation, she is testing light wavelengths and mouse sexes. In this cohort, I have heard about engineering, immunology, biochemistry, as well as places falling in between or overlapping.