My HSRF: Final Reflection

With the Health Science Fellowship coming to an end, I must admit that these past few months have been an incredibly transformative and eye-opening experience. Being able to commit to research full-time allowed me to fully immerse myself in my project and take on substantially more responsibility and independence than would be feasible during the school year. Going into the fellowship, I was not 100% sure of how passionate I was for research or how much time I would like to allot to it in the future, but I’ve honestly grown to love the research process and collaborating with fellow scientists about projects we are passionate about. Because of this, I definitely plan to commit as much time as possible to research in the future.

If there was one thing I learned about research over the course of the summer it is that finding meaningful progress and enjoyment in research is a direct product of how much time you put into it. Obtaining my first set of data this summer took a huge amount of time at first and involved lots of trial and error to eventually get high-quality representative data. Lots of this was because I was learning many new procedures such as confocal microscopy, and being able to do research full-time simply allowed me to get more practice and ultimately familiarity with the procedures. During the school year, what I would have been able to accomplish within a week this summer would have probably taken a few weeks, so I was incredibly grateful to be able to fully focus on research with the fellowship. I also learned about the importance of reviewing scientific literature related to your research as well as collaborating with other researchers within your lab or in different labs. My research mentor emphasized reading a new journal article each week, and discussing it with other researchers and this really enhanced my overall understanding of both neuroscience and how to go about designing effective experiments.

In addition to the ability to commit full-time to research over the summer, one of the most valuable aspects of the fellowship was being able to interact with like-minded peers. The fellowship meetings were a very unique opportunity for you to discuss your research with other passionate students which in turn fueled my passion and curiosity for the work I was doing. Also as someone new to the research world, I had a pretty limited knowledge of all the different ways research can be conducted, so learning about the different methodologies other students employ in their respective work was very interesting and informative.

Regarding my next steps after the fellowship, I will be continuing my project during the school year and hope to eventually complete a BPhil thesis. I am still interested in applying to medical school, so along with completing my coursework and neuroscience degree, I will be participating in more clinical-related activities to expose myself to the field. I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience with the HSRF this summer and am looking forward to picking up with my project again in the fall.

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