As someone conducting basic biology research, the Health Sciences Research Fellowship gives me a unique opportunity to engage with a diverse community of undergraduate scholars working in diverse research fields. Just a few weeks into the fellowship, I am already amazed by the incredible projects all my peers are tackling. While I have been thoroughly involved in cancer research since my first year on campus, I’m not completely certain that I will make a career out of it. As such, I’ve been exposed to many interesting fields in the health sciences that the other HSRF recipients are working in, and those could be avenues for me to explore in graduate school.
After taking a look at some other projects from my cohort, it was exciting to see work that was both different and similar to mine. For example, Vignesh Elangovan is studying how to use “targeted radionuclide therapy to improve the success of adoptive T cell therapy.” What is interesting about this to me is that despite also working in the field of cancer biology, Vignesh is taking a completely different approach to his studies. While I am looking at how specific mutations can prime cancer cells for exploitable metabolic reprogramming, Vignesh examines how we can improve the immune response in cancer treatment. This just goes to show even within cancer biology, there are so many approaches we can take.
Another project I found particularly interesting was Elizabeth Rubin’s project studying corneal fibrosis. I actually used to be interested in Ophthalmology as a possible career path, so seeing work being done in this space by my peers was very interesting.
Given how many of the techniques I work with have become commonplace to me, it is always interesting coming together with the other fellowship recipients and learning about the methods they use. It is critically important for researchers to not be trapped by rigid and established methods, otherwise progress would not be made. While there are many techniques that have become standard for a reason, small but incremental improvements to different research methods is what gives us our modern society. It truly is our differences that make us all unique, and we have things we can learn from each other.
Even though we are just a few weeks into the fellowship, the HSRF has already been an amazing experience allowing me to engage with a diverse group of interdisciplinary scholars. I’ve already learned so much from hearing about the projects everyone else is involved in and I’m excited to continue with this journey throughout the rest of the summer!