As we round off the end of the 2022 summer term at Pitt, a few things definitely helped me stay on track during my Health Sciences Research Fellowship. For starters, as with any project, planning and time management skills took a priority in terms of organizing my work. I spent the majority of the first week writing up protocols and anticipating experimental timelines to better distribute my project throughout the summer. It’s critically important that you do not run into an experiment blind, as that is what’ll likely lead to you backtracking your mistakes, something of which I have learned during my initial period in lab. Seeking advice and constantly asking questions to more experienced members of the lab is also something that truly benefitted me for the long-term. I like to say that not matter how simply a question might seem, or even getting an affirmation, getting into a habit of asking questions not only builds your understanding of the topic at hand, but also builds deeper connections to your project and displays your commitment to grow.
Moving onwards, the most valuable thing I can take away from the HSRF was the interdisciplinary nature of which my fellow cohort of HSRF fellowship recipients. Most people can agree that the health sciences may seem a specific branch of research, but within that field is a wide array of work being done. From cardiovascular health to immunology, health science research essentially covers everything from head to toe. Being able to exchange ideas with other students pursuing tangential research was truly interesting in understanding different points of view as well as learning about different research projects to broaden my scope of the health sciences. This truly aided my understanding of the health sciences, as well as being able to work alongside other students in an interdisciplinary fashion.
With the fellowship coming to an close, my goals for the future is largely focused on continuing my project with new understandings from significant data at a higher complexity. As mentioned in previous blogs, my research project is looking at the effects of a novel immunocytokine, that combines immune checkpoint inhibitor and cytokine therapy, on tumor onset delay and survival in a head and neck murine tumor model in combination with external beam radiation therapy. Beyond undergrad, I am hoping to pursue medicine and research in an effort to combine patient care with continually evolving methods of treatment.