I can’t believe I am more than halfway through my summer internship at the Valera Lab. Although it is virtual, I still have been gaining understanding of conducting clinical research and being able to help conduct it myself, too. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I am sad that I am not able to work in person with the lab staff, especially my wonderful co-interns Sarah and Olivia. However, we have managed to bond during training and conducting our own independent research project which explores the prevalence of intimate partner violence in transgender women.
I have been incredibly impressed by the lab’s ability to completely re-focus their efforts due to the pandemic. We adapted the in-person protocol to be administered online, and the transition was seamless due to efforts of the lab staff. Instead of using blood marker, hair cortisol, balance, and neurocognitive tests as primary data, we are now using qualitative accounts in conjunction with remotely administered neurocognitive and balance tests. I have enjoyed doing the work but must say that it has gotten very difficult to work from home. It is very easy to get distracted and feel motivated when you are not in a work environment. However, I have been doing the best that I can.
The World of Work is much more exciting than academic life. I believe that learning happens best in a practical, applied experience, and I have gained so much by being in this environment. I have also learned much about working with people while working at the Valera Lab. Through interviewing study participants about their abusive relationships, I have learned how to be compassionate and sympathetic, while maintaining a professional demeanor.
This internship has greatly impacted the trajectory of my academic and professional careers. Before beginning my work at the Valera Lab, I didn’t seriously consider clinical research as a potential career. However, from this experience, I have felt extremely interested in pursuing a career in neuropsychiatric research. I believe that research of this manner makes an impact on the population being studied, and my dream is to highlight and utilize the social justice underpinnings of scientific and public health research.
During this experience, there have been moments where I found myself wishing that I studied psychology and neuroscience, as an academic background like this would enrich my learning in lab. However, I believe that everything happens for a reason – if I hadn’t studied biology and public health, I may not be in this research position right now. And as an incoming junior, I still have time to take neuropsychology classes at Brandeis. I am hopeful that going into those classes with the background that I already have from conducting neuropsychiatric research will give me unique viewpoints and advantages.
Again, I would like to thank Brandeis University’s World of Work (WOW) program for allowing me to do this very impactful and meaningful work.
– Maddy Pliskin