STEP Experience Reflection 13-14

 

What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

Organophosphorus compounds (OPs) are toxic nerve agents used in chemical warfare. These OPs covalently bond with Serine-203, a main catalytic residue in acetylcholinesterase (AChE), to prevent the hydrolysis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. After a given period of time depending on the OP compound, the now inhibited AChE will undergo an irreversible process known as aging, where the OP-AChE moiety will dealkylate and form a stable phosphonate anion permanently inactivating the enzyme. Without functioning AChE, acetylcholine accumulates in the neuromuscular junction and affected individuals can experience muscle spams and eventually death by asphyxiation. Currently, there are no known therapeutic methods to reverse this aging process and regain enzymatic activity. However, inhibited AChE can be restored to the active form before it becomes aged by pharmaceuticals containing an oxime functional group. The goal of this project is to discover a compound that will realkylate the stable phosphonate anion on Ser-203 in aged-AChE, which can then be restored to the active AChE by oximes. Literature precedent shows that quinone methides (QMs) are capable of alkylating phosphodiesters, which are structurally similar to the phosphonylated Ser-203 residue in the aged-AChE active site. Through computational analysis via molecular docking and molecular dynamics, the chemical interactions between the Ser-203 residue and a diverse library of QMPs are being examined in silico. From this critical series of computational experiments, promising compounds can then be identified, synthesized, and tested to discover a lead compound based on observed trends.

 

So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted.

Throughout my exposure to the research process, I have learned valuable lessons pertaining to the research project itself and life outside of academia. Research is far more tedious than I imagined—it encompasses meticulousness, patience, frustration, and critical thinking. When a step in the process is halted or slowed, one must be creative to find another way to get the end result. This is where the patience and frustration simultaneously arise. It is frustrating to wait for a job to complete, especially if it is has been done multiple times. Patience is required during this task because it is easy to anticipate the following steps. However, one must follow each step meticulously to ensure successful completion. From learning this, I have become better at multi-tasking and preparing for the next step when possible. Outside of research, I have learned a great deal about the people with whom I have worked; I have learned their strengths and weaknesses, and I know who the right resource is for an appropriate question I may have. Thus, I am a part of the teamwork established within the group.

 

 

Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward.

My career goal is to become a physician, and as a current applicant for medical school, I feel my STEP experience in research will give me an advantage over other applicants. First of all, because I am doing computational organic chemistry, I have become proficient in a language that not many people can understand. What is important, though, is that I am still able to convey the seemingly cryptic information into layman’s terms. This will help me in my career because as a physician, medical jargon has to be translated for a patient who probably does not know medical terminology. Beyond the factual evidence, my research has prepared me for my personal goals, too. As stated in the aforementioned paragraph, I have learned about the people I have worked with. As a prospective healthcare professional, communicating with people on a personal basis is a significant matter. Communication has the potential to build trust, to establish strong connections with patients, and to offer compassion and understanding. Thanks to STEP, I am participating in something I never imagined myself doing. When I first started college, I did not even think of participating in research, presenting at forums, or writing a thesis. Now, it seems only natural that I am doing so, and the skills I have learned are skill I will carry with me for my academic and professional career and for life beyond medicine.

STEP Reflection- So what?

This has been an incredibly formative experience for me. In the lab, I have learned new technical skills including thin layer chromatography, enzyme activity assays, cell culture methods, ELISAs and DNA extraction. More importantly, I have learned how to be a better scientist. My previous training was interrupted, and I never learned simple things like how to keep a lab notebook, how to efficiently plan a study, simple things like that. I was able to get by, but could always tell something wasn’t quite right. Under the guidance of my supervisor, Dr. Mühle, I learned that I should write down everything I do in my notebook, how to plan out a study efficiently, how to be more organized and more precise. The technical skills I would have learned at some point as needed, but these fundamental scientific skills I will be able to take back to OSU and use while working on my honors thesis. I also gained a new perspective on depression research in general: all of my previous exposure had been to animal research. In fact, I always viewed clinical research as inherently limited and not very useful. This lab, however, combines both human and animal research to overcome the limitations of both. I am now convinced that this is the best path to discovery in depression research, and hope to some day be involved in both clinical and preclinical studies. This has altered my search for graduate schools- I now would prefer a school that has both preclinical and clinical options to allow for collaborations on specific topics, like I have observed here.
The topic of our research is also significant to the medical community. In our research on sphingolipid metabolism and glucocoticoid receptor sensitivity, we are attempting to identify biomarkers of depression. Right now, the only diagnosis for depression comes from a psychological interview and the personal opinion of the psychologist, making consistent diagnoses difficult. Furthermore, scientists now think that depression may be an umbrella dignosis, incorporating multiple types of depressions that we are currently unable to differentiate between. Establishing biomarkers can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of depression by providing a more personalized approach.
One thing that has struck me during my travels around Europe is the impact of World War II on not only the cities but also the minds of the people. It is rare to go to a city without a historical site for the Nazis or a monument to those who perished in concentration camps. Learning about World War II from an ocean away is very different from seeing the huge arena where Hitler had his rallies, imagining the magnitude of the crowd to fill such a site, or standing in the square of the Jewish ghetto where Jews were rounded up to be sent to concentration camps. It made it all so much more real. And despite all these wars, particularly those over disputed territory, there are no landmarks or any indication when crossing country lines. We make a bigger deal about crossing state lines in the U.S. than they do about crossing country lines here!
This trip abroad has also given me my fist opportunity to meet people from other countries, and I am taking away from this experience that we are all the same. There is no difference between a Canadian, a German, a Spaniard, an American, a Russian, and Italian, an Argentinian- we may speak with different accents but we are really all the same. I appreciate how big the world is, but also how small.

I also have a new appreciation for American and my own culture. Having never been outside the U.S., I have never had anything to compare it to, never had any reason to really appreciate the little things about the United States. I can now tell you that I love the fact that water is free in America. I like how we only serve still water, not carbonated, so I don’t have to spend 10 minutes trying to make sure that I buy the right water. I appreciate big grocery/convencience stores like Walmart and Target so much more than I ever thought I would. I miss our high end fast food- Chipotle, Fusian- I also miss food delivery. I have a whole new love for the English language, because that is the only one I understand, and it has been three months since I have been in a country where it is spoken. I am also so thankful that I am from a country where English is the first language, because I wouldn’t be able to get by knowing any one other language. Going to a foreign country and being unable to speak their language has given me a sense of patience and understanding for those who come to the U.S. unable to speak English. Before I would get annoyed, wondering why they were here if they couldn’t speak English. I am thankful that I never experienced that sentiment here.

STEP Experience Summer 2015

STEP Experience: Undergraduate Research 

 

What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

I began working with my principal investigator (PI) Dr. Ian Krajbich, spring semester of 2014. His lab focuses on neuroeconomics, which is the discipline of decision making. When I first began working in the lab, I helped graduate students in his lab with their projects. I was often their first pilot subject for experiments, I found images that they needed for their experiments, created excel documents, and helped them with other little projects. At the end of fall semester of 2014, my PI, another undergraduate student in the lab, and myself began running experiments for a project my PI and a colleague of his were interested in pursuing. They were interested in reducing the frequency of groupthink. We finished collecting data (running experiments) at the end of spring semester 2015, conducted some analyses on the data, and presented our findings at the Denman Forum in March 2015. After the Denman, we conducted one more experiment and continue to perform analyses on all of the data we have collected. This project will be fully completed by early August this year.

So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted.

From my STEP experience of being involved with undergraduate research, I learned that I am capable of achieving my goals. I learned that I can take a full load of classes, get good grades, and work in a group towards a serious research goal. While enrolling for spring semester 2015 classes, I thought that I was not going to be able to keep up with taking 17 credits and be heavily involved with research. However, I set a goal of receiving a 4.0 gpa that semester and presenting a poster at the Denman Forum. I achieved both of those goals and learned that I am capable of achieving whatever goals I set for myself. I never pushed myself that hard in high school or even earlier in college; without this undergraduate experience, I truly believe that I would never have known how capable I am of achieving my dreams.

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Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward.

My initial goal of helping Dr. Krajbich with his research project was to understand what area of psychology I would want to study in graduate school, completing the research project helped me realize that the field of clinical psychology is where my interests lie. When I began my research project, I was very interested in neuroeconomics, which is within the field of cognitive psychology. However, after finishing the project, I learned that cognitive psychology is not the field of future study for me. The field of cognitive psychology does not connect with everyday human problems the way I thought it would. While working on this research project, learning so much about the research process works and about the broad field of cognitive psychology, I was also taking classes for my clinical psychology minor. The combination of those classes and doing cognitive psychology type of research encouraged me to further investigate the field of clinical psychology.

At this point of my senior year, I believe that pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology fits my interests best. I want to become a clinical psychologist so that I can personally help people live better lives by helping patients learn how to cope or how to fix their personal problems. I still need to refine and understand what my research interests are within the field of clinical psychology before I apply to PhD programs in clinical psychology. To facilitate that process, I am taking a year off from school after spring graduation to volunteer at a variety of clinical psychology related places. I also hope to become a nanny to understand if studying children would be something I want to do. I learned from this STEP experience that having some undergraduate research experience is very helpful in the application process for graduate school. Not only did I gain research experience, but I learned more about the research process and about where my interests for graduate studies lie. I also learned more about the field of decision science and how to present myself in a professional academic setting such as poster presentations like at the Denman Forum. Participating in STEP has overall helped me refine my post-graduation goals.

 

2014 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting & Exposition

STEP Reflection

Name: Becca Makii

STEP Experience: 2014 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting & Exposition
What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

I attended the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual meeting and exposition and participated in their workshop with the Controlled Release Society on Animal Drug Delivery Systems Research and Development in San Diego, California (Nov 1 & 2, 2014). I participated in the lecture series to learn more about veterinary drug delivery systems and utilized this experience to develop my own undergraduate thesis. Taking on a research project under Dr. Sylvan Frank in the College of Pharmacy I developed a proposition to create a new formulation for a successful product utilized in the treatment and prevention of canine periodontal disease. Additionally, this opportunity was a good experience into what continuing education is like in the professional health sciences and taught me about current issues in the field of veterinary pharmacy.

So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted.

As the only undergraduate student to attend this workshop, I was really proud of how I understood most of the presentations, sat up front, and asked questions. I was concerned that no one would really care that I was there because I wasn’t representing a pharmaceutical company or business partnership, but I received an excellent response from several attendees. I was surprised at how supportive everyone was about me being interested in the field so early. I even was asked to apply to the veterinary program at University of Dublin! I learned a lot about the options I have and that there is potential for me to create my own professional pathway in this industry.
Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward.

This experience helped me to gain insight as to what I hope to achieve as a researcher in the field of veterinary pharmacy. Prior to this experience, I didn’t fully know the potential areas that I could get into—but now I have a better idea of what my future goals are and can communicate those goals clearly as I currently apply to veterinary schools. I also found that I really enjoy literature research, not just hands-on work. Prior to this experience, I thought that literature review would be boring and wasn’t really worth my time. However, my opinions have completely changed and I now realize that literature review is an integral component to research. I am looking forward to continuing research while I attend professional school. I also hope to eventually get my PhD.

WHAT? I have been offered, and accepted, a position as a Student Clinical Research Assistant at the Comprehensive Cancer Center here at The Ohio State University. I will be working for Dr. Maura Gillison on her Genomic Research Study on oral cancer patients and their associations with the HPV virus. I will begin my employment with this team starting May 1st, 2014 and have plans to continue with their study until I graduate OSU in May of 2016.

I have already begun my work for Dr. Gillison and have seen a large impact in my position. Being a clinical research assistant I meet with patients who have been diagnosed with oral cavity cancer that is positive for HPV16, those who are diagnosed with oral cavity cancer and are HPV16 negative, both types of cancer patient’s partners, and those who do not have oral cavity cancer and have no history of any other type of cancer. I perform the same activities with all types of my patients, some just more frequent than others dependent on their cancer status. The first time I meet with a patient is on behalf of a doctor’s recommendation to our study based on the patient’s cancer stage. At this first visit I explain our voluntary study to the patient by reading through a consent form as well as a HIPPA form. After a patient is enrolled we will collect our “baseline” samples, this is for all types of our participants. Our “baseline” samples are categorized as pre-surgery and pre-treatment. These samples include an oral rinse to collect the untreated cells, a blood sample, and three computer surveys. The computer surveys help us to understand the lifestyle habits of each type of participant and possibly indicate a similar type of behavior that is distinct in one group versus another. For the controls, non-cancer patients, and the partners of the cancer patients these are all the samples and information that I collect from them. Both HPV16 positive and negative cancer patients I continue to follow for a 6-month period of time. I attend their surgeries to collect a sample of the tumor that the surgeon excises during surgery. I meet with these patients post-surgery but pre-treatment to collect another oral rinse. For those patients who are receiving radiation treatment and chemotherapy I collect one oral rinse per week for the total 8 weeks of radiation treatment. These once a week samples help us to analyze the cells and their changes throughout the course of the radiation treatment and provide us with information on what the treatment is actually doing to the mutated cells. After the patients complete the 8-week radiation treatment I meet with them again at their 4-6 week post-treatment follow up to collect another oral rinse as well as a blood sample. Lastly, I meet with these patients at their 6-month post-diagnosis follow up and collect one last oral rinse. All of these samples that I collect are brought back to our lab to be processed and examined, and put into a data base system in order to collect the appropriate information.

So What? This job has given me many skills that I may not have learned inside the classroom otherwise. Although there is no opportunity for me to lead my own independent research project since this is a national study, I still am exposed to what is necessary for Dr. Gillison to conduct this research. I have seen what it takes for her to keep and apply for grants to fund her research, I am trained on proper ethical guidelines for human research, and all the different aspects that go into conducting a national research study. The most important skill that I have gained from this project is my patient care interactions. I have actual experience in a clinical setting working with doctors, nurses, patient care assistants, dentists, nurse practitioners, surgeons, and so many more people. The patients can test my knowledge and challenge me to look up or research questions that they have and that I may not know the answer to. I also have developed skills that have allowed me to interact with people who may be in their absolute worst state of mind. I sometimes see patients in the same day that they have been told that they have cancer, which for most is an extremely emotional time. I also follow these patients throughout their radiation treatment, which could arguably be the most detrimental experience one’s body could endure leaving the patients in significant amounts of pain, exhaustion, and for some the desire to “just want to quit.”  Being thrown into these difficult situations has allowed me to become a more understanding person, and have a more mature response to those dealing with difficult times, which may just be my friend who is stressed about an upcoming exam.

Now What? My experiences that I have gained inside the hospital as well as in the office have assured me in my decision to pursue my goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist. Without my STEP participation I’m not sure that I would still be on the track of going to medical school. Sitting in class is not always a good motivator to continue the extremely difficult track of becoming a doctor. Seeing my patients gives me the motivation to work even harder when school becomes overwhelmingly stressful. The skills and habits that I have developed throughout this job has transformed me as an individual and provided me with the ability to appropriately respond in situations that I would not have been able to before.  With my grant money I was able to accept this job and be reminded everyday why I am choosing to become a doctor.

International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition STEP Experience

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace

What?

In August of 2014, I travelled with members of the OSU Cognitive and Systematic

Bukhansan National Park

Bukhansan National Park

Musicology Laboratory to Seoul, South Korea to attend and present at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC). At ICMPC, I encountered cognitive musicologists, neuroscientists, musicians, and interested individuals from almost every part of the globe. A wonderful aspect about this conference was the fact that so many dedicated teams and individuals assembled together for the purpose of sharing knowledge which only further enhanced the growth of music cognition and the overall understanding of the function of the human brain. To me, that is an immensely powerful and positive reason to congregate. I look forward to attending similar events in the future. Apart from gaining invaluable research experience and insight, I was also fortunate enough to indulge in the astounding beauty of Korean culture, hospitality, and history.

I learned a considerable amount about conducting research in my STEP experience. At the end of 2013, I began a research project with graduate researcher Kirsten Nisula in the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory. In this study, we found that in sad music, lyrics are sung more slowly but it is because of arousal not valence. Arriving at this conclusion took more work and time than I original assumed it would. I came to learn that when conducting research, one must be constantly aware of thoroughness and consistency of methods, data, and communication of information. This information has proven to be extraordinarily useful as I move forward to new projects.

 

So What?

Bukchon Hanok Village

Bukchon Hanok Village

Personally, this experience was extremely satisfying with respect to life my life goals. Since becoming involved in the Music Cognition Lab, I have looked forward to working on a scientific study and it is worth noting that this was quite a stellar first time experience. In my sophomore year of school, I was not anticipating starting such at an ambitious project and then having it published and presented at an international conference. In a way, this goal was completed before I realized that it was something for which I really wanted to aim. Originally, I was just hoping to help out in the music cognition lab while learning about neuroscience and music. Ultimately, I received an unforgettable experience that has forever changed my outlook on how I plan to spend the remainder of my professional life

Now What?

In Korea, I learned a lot about what I want to do with my life. I got a taste of the other side of the globe and had the opportunity to compare that completely different environment with my home, Ohio. That comparison helped me decide to dedicate myself to constant world travel and, in the near future, living abroad. This is not in an effort to leave my home, but it is an effort to share my experience of life as an Ohioan and achieve a greater understanding of humanity through interaction with different peoples. If anything, by leaving my home, I realized that I love and

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

appreciate it more than words can express. Though I have travelled a considerable amount within the United States, in going to Asia, I came to realize, or at least imagine, just how diverse and unexplored the world truly is. Given that spending ten days in one city afforded such a generous experience, I am eager to visit other parts of South Korea and the world as a whole.

 

STEP Reflection

STEP Experience: Undergraduate Research

What?

This summer I started my own project in the linguistic psychology lab. This lab studies spoken word recognition. I have been working there for a year and the professor in charge wanted me to start my own project this summer. I am bilingual and my second language is Tamil. I started a project to study how Tamil speakers perceive certain word combinations. A previous experiment showed that Tamil speakers perceive words that begin with /sr/ differently than English speakers. This is because words beginning with /sr/ are illegal in English, but they are legal in Tamil. I researched more illegal word beginnings for Tamil and English.

I created surveys for my family members to find out how common words that begin with /sr/ are. I found that there are some common words used in everyday language. I then asked them to record themselves saying the words. This was to find out if they actually begin with /sr/ or is there an epenthetic vowel in between. Using these results I will create the final experiment.

This spring, I started to conduct this experiment. I ran 8 people, ungraduates and graduate students who speak Tamil. They had to listen to Tamil words I recorded. They then had to spell out those words. They also read Tamil words and repeated them, these were recorded. I spent time kooking at the recordings and analyzing if they produced epenthetic vowels. They did, with great variability. I also looked at their typed responses to see if they added vowels or elimniated them. Like with the speech data, there was great variability. The data pertaining to the speech part of the data was presented it at the Denman. I plan on turning this project into my senior thesis in the fall.

So what?

I learned quite a few things about myself this summer. I learned that I could work many hours learning about a language that I have known since I started talking. I have learned much about the language that I did not know before. I thought that this project would be finished quickly with results. I have learned to be patient when it comes to working towards data. I look forward to moving forward with this project.

Now what?

I have learned a lot during this experience that will help me grow in the future. I have learned how to conduct research for an experiment. I know how to spend time getting good information that will help understand the questions I am trying to study. I learned how to ask for help from other scientists and researchers in the field. I have learned how to create an experiment in the field, one that will allow me to study this in the future. I have learned that this is the right path for me in the future.

Michelle Snow: Undergraduate Research Experience

STEP Experience ________Undergraduate Research________________

 

What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

 

For my STEP experience, I was part of the undergraduate biomolecular research team, OhioMOD, here at Ohio State. We developed and executed a research plan in which we attempted to find out if sequestering a specific miRNA in leukemia cells would heal or kill them. Once the actual research itself was completed, the team presented our findings at the international BioMOD competition at Harvard. There we received a gold project award for our research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted. 

While very challenging, I greatly enjoyed the time I spent on my project. Countless hours were spent reading research papers and and waiting for experiments to finish. At times it could be trying, but it was still a positive experience thanks to the other people I was surrounded by in the lab. I gained valuable knowledge and hands-on experience in the lab about my research topic and many of the other projects being performed. I never used to think that I would want to do research as a career, but my experience has proved otherwise. The research papers can be a bit of a turn off, but the hands-on aspects outweighed it. I was also able to gain more confidence in my abilities and public speaking skills. My research team had to present our findings at a conference in Boston, and speaking in front of strangers had been something that I was afraid to do. Thanks to the support from my team and constant practice I delivered my part of the presentation with ease and have since been able to give presentations much easier. Eventually I think I can overcome the fear completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward. 

From my experience, I have been able to further refine my academic and career goals. Before participating in STEP, I was pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with no specific plan of what I should do after graduation. There were plenty of things I could try to pursue with my degree, but it was too overwhelming without a chance to narrow down the options I might enjoy. Since I haven’t been able to secure an internship to help with that, STEP helped me look into research. I most likely would not have tried undergraduate research because of the unpaid aspect, and STEP helped me through that. Now I am currently pursuing a biomolecular focus within my major, and after graduation I would like to attend graduate school to obtain a masters in biochemical engineering. After all of that, I believe I would like to pursue a career in research and development for a biotechnology/pharmaceutical company which is very similar to the work I did this past summer. My overall goal can be summed up as I want to help people through the advancement of medicine. I can fortunately say that my STEP experience has had nothing but a positive effect on my future plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undergraduate STEP Research

What?
I committed about 15-20 hours a week to going into the research lab and worked closely with my direct supervisor Karen, who taught me aseptic techniques and the new method their lab had developed in focusing on natural killer cells from a pediatric tonsil. This consisted of using GentleMACsTM technology to blend up the tissue and collect the cell suspension. From there we add red blood cells to create a comfortable environment and add human NK cell enrichment cocktail that bond with cells outside of our focus group such as B and T cells. Then I used a ficoll overlay, which allowed the NK cells to remain suspended as a buffy layer, as the rest of the cell dropped to the bottom. With that buffy layer collected of NK cells, ammonium chloride was added to lysis any remaining RBCs. I was also taught (and still mastering) to use a machine called the flow cytometer. Flow cytometry analyzes one cell at a time using lasers to detect biomarkers that the natural killer cells are expressing which we are using to characterize different stages the NK cells go through as they mature.

So What?
As an aspiring pre-medicine student, I am always looking for opportunities to become passionate about. I’ve always hoped to take advantage of every opportunity available to me and grow with a multitude of unique experiences because this is what will set me apart from others and create a more diverse background for myself. This project of undergraduate research will contribute to my success in my desired profession because it has increased my scientific knowledge and expanded my understanding of how new knowledge is gained to advance our society. It offered me an inspiring and committed mentor, who trained me in gaining new skills in the laboratory such as flow cytometry, tonsil cell processing, using Ficoll, plating cells, and aseptic techniques. This was an opportunity to pursue my interest in immunology while honing my problem-solving skills. Being able to complete this project helped clarify my aspiration to go into the field of medicine and also sparked the interest of doing research as well. I was able to build a network while working in the lab because I got to work closely with my mentor as well as a diverse array of people who are as committed to science as I am. On top of all the benefits that I have acquired through this unique experience, I will have the opportunity to establish myself in the science community by being in the current process of being coauthors in upcoming publications. I feel that I have an advantage moving forward in my professional aspiration to become a medical doctor. The skills acquired, passion sparked, and professional relationships formed gave me confidence that I can translate into further my pursuit.

My favorite part about this experience was establishing relationships and getting to know the people around my lab. Due to our close collaboration with the Caligiuri Lab, our small four person lab felt more like a 20 person lab. Everyone was so welcoming in the beginning and continued to be throughout my experience. They have built an environment where it was not competitive and everyone was expected to help each other out when help was needed. Feeling so comfortable in such a foreign environment was definitely, in my opinion, a huge factor in my success in this project as well as my ability to enjoy it. Research is a substantial time and personal commitment in order to be successful. There would be some days I came into the lab after class and left close to midnight, but a part of me was always was happy to do it because of how appreciative everyone was and knowing those who might also be pulling a long day would be there too.

This experience impacted me personally by getting me out of my comfort zone and really changing my perspective on research. This project was personally challenging and intellectually developing because it was an experience I had never had before. I was going into an area I was unfamiliar with and a subject I may only have had a basic understanding of, but no extensive knowledge. This was a big leap because I had a lot of insecurities going into this as I surrounded myself with experts in the field. Being a part of the research and being mentored by my faculty advisor and direct supervisor, my confidence grew each time I went. The other big personal change was my opinion on research. I had a horrible experience the first time I sought out a lab to join. I found it boring, intimidating, and a waste of my time because it became apparent that I was only there to do the tasks they didn’t want to do. They didn’t teach me anything so I was just memorizing procedure rather than being engaged into this full heartedly. I am so happy I gave research another shot and this experience has completely turned my opinion around. I am excited and proud of the work being done here and I truly understand the passion others have for it now because this experience has lit that fire in me as well.

Now What?
After this experience during my STEP experience I plan to continue with the research I was able to begin with STEP supporting me. Moving forward I set a goal to get published and have my name be recognized in the medical field as being a part of a project. I also feel that I can use this new skill set to open up doors in my future that will allow me to have an advantage in medical school or even if I wanted to look into a profession in working in a laboratory.