CURF 3: Reflections on Journey Through CURF

Through my experience with research over the last few years and the Chancellor’s Research fellowship this semester, there have been times when I was frustrated and overwhelmed by the number of patient cases that I had to balance at once for a project. However, over time, my understanding of how to balance the diversity of patients’ cases and collect the data in an efficient and effective manner have developed. For instance, during my project exploring the efficacy of Gamma Knife radiosurgery on pineal gland tumors this semester, I had to navigate a few patient charts that were incomplete. I was frustrated as I needed to collect the data before the deadline in a week. What I soon realized was that asking for guidance is okay. After several unsuccessful attempts to read the patients’ files, I decided to reach out to my mentor. He suggested that I use a different software to decipher these patients’ cases. Experiences like these taught me how research can sometimes be intimidating but that seeking others’ expertise and guidance is an essential part of the research process. 

Additionally, I have learned to appreciate the somewhat lack of structure in biomedical research. Unlike what I had expected when I entered the lab, data collected one day can lead to a new question or hypothesis in just a week. I had initially expected to follow a set protocol and get structured results; however, this was far from what I experienced. I quickly learned that there is no clear path to research projects, that the same research question can be explored in multiple ways and that the same research question can change into a new project the next day. This made every day in the lab unique, and I really enjoyed the novelty of this field. This has motivated me to continue pursuing research throughout my gap year and medical school education.

As mentioned, my next steps will be to continue working on independent projects in the research lab to not only learn more about the radiosurgery treatment, Gamma Knife, but also to further expose and prepare myself towards a career in medicine. Spending my gap year working full time in a clinically focused lab will allow me to learn more about physiological conditions as well as develop the critical thinking skills that I will need during medical school in the prospective future. This will also help me build on the scientific background gained from my undergraduate education. I am very excited to take on future projects in this research lab and further work towards my dream career as a physician.

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