This summer has been one filled with a great deal of learning. Although it is not quite over, I have already gained new knowledge from my time at Boston Children’s that I would not have been able to if it weren’t for my summer research internship. My goals at the beginning of the summer included learning more about how research is conducted and participating closely in the research; I would say that I have achieved both goals. Over the course of the summer, I met with my post-doc along with other teams from our lab to discuss the project. I helped in explaining the white-matter segmentation protocol we use to new undergraduate students and provided the new lab members with data that I worked on to use as a model. Additionally, I have made some interesting discoveries regarding our data that have further expanded the scope of our project. I am so happy I have been able to participate in such a hands-on manor and am excited to continue participating in the lab throughout this upcoming year.
In addition to gaining research experience, I was further able to clarify my future career direction. I still want to go to medical school to become a physician but doing clinical research at a hospital has opened my eyes to how deeply interconnected research and medicine are. Research is vital to the progress of science and medical practice; the two are so deeply intertwined that it is impossible to have one without the other. I learned that I really enjoy thinking critically and I believe the career path I am on is truly the correct one for me as I will be able to continue using the skills I gained in this internship and in college in the future.
Although there are many accomplishments from this summer that I am proud of, one I am most proud of is my poster from SciFest. It has been a goal of mine to create a poster of my research and hang it up in the halls of Gzang since the first time I walked those halls to my introductory biology class. Although my poster was not perfect, I am very proud of myself for working as hard as I did to accomplish this goal before I graduated from Brandeis. In addition to doing my lab responsibilities, I worked on creating a scientifically correct and aesthetically pleasing poster for several weeks, receiving a bit of aid from my post-doc student as needed. At SciFest, I was happy to present the project I have been working on to other students and faculty. Most importantly, I got to speak to our university’s president, Ron Liebowitz, and his wife about my research as they asked me several questions regarding the project. Seeing how genuinely interested they were with my current and future directions further validated me in feeling proud of myself. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer experience, and I am beyond grateful for everyone who has assisted me along the way.
My advice to future undergraduate researchers and WOW fellows is to never give up. I experienced several setbacks due to covid-19 and for some time I lost faith in myself. I began to accept the fact that I might not be able to complete my MS/BS as I had trouble finding a research position. However, due to my hard work and persistence in addition to support from the Brandeis University faculty, I am about to begin my senior year of college with almost 2 years of research experience under my belt. I can attest that hard work does pay off.