From the Health Sciences Research Fellowship, I grew both in my ability to communicate my research effectively and my ability to conduct research independently. From the communication standpoint, the fellowship activities and literature taught me the steps that I need to take in order to explain research to a specific audience. As I move forward in my career, assessing who I am speaking with about my research will be important for future connections and funding endeavors. On the other hand, when it comes to the research I have completed this summer, I have become much more independent in my ability to problem solve and plan experiments. When I first joined the lab over a year ago, I heavily relied on my PI and fellow lab mates to help adapt procedures and develop experiments that fit my goals. After working full time in the lab this summer, my ability to make those sorts of decisions on my own has greatly improved. This sort of problem solving will be beneficial in whatever I decide to pursue in the future.
Ultimately, what I found to be most valuable from the HSRF was my ability to devote my time entirely to lab work. During the semester, I have to balance school commitments with my research time which slows down progress immensely. Working in the lab full time has allowed me to greatly increase the amount of experiments I am able to run and improve their quality as I am not rushing to finish up before class. The volume of work I have been able to complete this summer alone has been invaluable to my development as a researcher.
After the completion of the fellowship, I will continue working in the VanDemark lab with the Chancellor’s Fellowship, and hopefully start work on my BPhil thesis pending my application being approved. I also will begin graduate school in the fall at the School of Public Health. I am excited to begin taking courses that are related to my specific career interests. Additionally, I will continue my training for a half-marathon that I am running in November.