CURF blog 2 – Becoming a researcher

Hello! I have made significant progresses in my research since my last post and obtained some promising data for my project. In this post, I will discuss how I became a researcher. I hope my blog can offer valuable insights for those seeking research opportunities.

I became interested in research during high school while I was still in China. I enjoyed learning about how scientists solve the complex mechanisms of biological processes, and how issues at the molecular level could lead to diseases. Although I did not have many wet lab opportunities at that time, I did participate in extracurricular programs that explored the molecular mechanisms of processes such as fibrosis or neurogenesis, their associated consequences, and potential solutions to these problems at the molecular level. These experiences deepened my desire to engage in scientific research.

When I arrived at Pitt, I began seeking for research opportunities. I joined Dr’ O’Donnell’s lab in the summer of 2022, and started my current project in 2023 spring, where I am investigating the mechanisms of how alpha-arrestins interact and mediate plasma membrane proteins internalization. My interest in this research arises from the limited understanding on alpha-arrestins, and I believe my work could significantly contribute to our understanding of these protein trafficking adaptors and inspire further research in this area. In addition, conducting research allowed me to learn and master in many experimental techniques and experimental design, which are crucial skills to master for conducting research.

My advice to students aiming to pursue research is to begin identifying your field of interest. Afterwards, you can find and contact professors whose research aligns with your field of interest. I suggest reading recent papers published by their lab to gain insight of the specific research topics and methodologies the lab employes. Finally, I recommend starting your research early in your undergraduate career, which allows you to accumulate more research experiences. It also allows more flexibility in time to conduct research, as there might be higher workload in junior and senior years and difficult to coordinate doing research with completing coursework.

My professional goals are to continue conducting research in biology-related fields, aiming to achieve a PhD. I believe that my undergraduate research experience has helped me significantly in learning research techniques, experiment design, and data interpretation, which are all important skills in conducting research. Furthermore, engaging in research had also allowed me to enhance my understanding of concepts I have learned in class, and utilize this knowledge effectively to approach and solve difficult research questions. I believe that my experiences would provide me strong advantage in achieving my career goal.

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