This semester, I learned that the process of conducting research is not often as linear and straightforward as I thought when planning out experiments. There are often unforeseen challenges that arise that can delay or modify the approach you take to conducting the research. Coming into the semester, I had a detailed plan for the time I wanted to dedicate to each stage of the research, which ended up being more reasonable and manageable to organize in larger segments of time devoted to a single stage before moving on to other stages. I leaned heavily on the experience of fellow students and mentors in the lab in building skills and using equipment which I was not as familiar with, which resulted in added time spent in each stage. However, investing this time in becoming familiar with the equipment you will be using, in my case microscopes and image analysis software, is a worthwhile endeavor that allows you to be more efficient as the semester progresses.
I also found that being able to adjust and re-evaluate your original plan as the semester progresses is essential to ensuring that you are using your time effectively and are staying on track to meet your goals by the end of the semester. The semester can really fly by with all of the things that keep you busy as a student researcher. I’d recommend that undergraduate researchers build in extra flexibility into their research plans so that they are able to make adjustments to the plan as they go.
As the CURF and the Spring 2023 semester draws to a close, I look forward to continuing and expanding upon my research this summer, and into next year. I hope to build upon the skills and knowledge that the CURF has enabled me to gain and dig deeper into my research questions, supplement my experiments with additional results and analysis, and work towards the goal of incorporating my research into potential publications from the lab I am working in.
I’ve included some images highlighting the results of my work below: These are stained brain sections with LAMP5 expressing neurons indicated by the arrow to the white neuron. My project compares the Entorhinal Cortex (EC) of Alzheimer’s Diseased and control brains to identify if a preferential loss of LAMP5+ neurons in AD sections could help explain the early degeneration displayed by the EC in Alzheimer’s.