While the Summer is Over, the Ticks Live On…Literally

Hi all,

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write this. By the time I was ready to sit down and write this final post, I was already into the school year and everything started getting busy. With that said, this extra time has really given me the opportunity to sit back and contemplate what I gained from my summer work.

What I have come to realize is that this position has really helped prepare me for a career in research. Initially, I believed that this preparation would come from the actual summer work- gathering background information, designing the collection protocol, critically analyzing data, and determining if there is any real significance to the results.  While I do believe that this was all extremely important and supplemented my current knowledge of the scientific method, I gained something a lot more significant than this knowledge. I finally understand the importance of networking. While most would think that this is an obvious necessity to get job positions, in the field of research, it actually has an additional meaning. In general, scientific research is based on the pursuit of knowledge and challenging other’s ideas. Networking creates an ideal environment for sharing and discussing ideas and complications in your research.

I have been surprised by how useful it has been that my internship was associated with Brandeis University’s Heller School. This has allowed me to easily continue my research through the school year. I plan on writing a senior thesis utilizing the work I completed this summer. Professor Olson was kind enough to take on the responsibility of being my advisor. I still meet with him at least once a week to discuss where I should gather more background information and how I should be planning my final paper next year. In fact, we actually discussed a preliminary format for my final paper earlier today. Professor Olson has also really supported my efforts to start working in a lab that specializes in LATE PCR to analyze the ticks collected for different diseases. It’s actually scary, the ticks have been sitting in a refrigerator for well over 2 months and they’re still alive. This is actually very useful though since we are still in the planning phase.  Unfortunately, at this rate, I may not have the time to complete the lab portion of this project on my own. The good news is that there is another student interested in the project so the ticks will be tested eventually!

I have two last things I would like to mention, first is a piece of advice to future students looking for internships and the second is a warning. If you ever want to find an internship where you are working under a university faculty member, or anywhere really, don’t be afraid to contact them. If you can set up a face-to-face meeting with someone, this is ideal. When looking for an internship, you have nothing to lose when contacting someone; the worst that can happen is they say “no.” Do not get discouraged when looking for positions, it is an extremely competitive process but you will find a position! And now for the warning… beware of ticks. Besides the fact that I have to end my blogs with something about ticks, it is important to remember that they are extremely small (see below) and that you can very easily be bitten during the spring, summer and fall.

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-Adam Krebs ’14