STEP Reflection

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


This summer I participated in undergraduate research for my STEP experience. I spent 40+ hours a week in the Brandon Biesiadecki laboratory in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology. I have never had the opportunity to work in a laboratory conducting research, so the STEP funds allowed me to stay on campus for the summer to gain this experience. I learned a lot during this experience. I was trained in many fields, and gained a wide variety of experiences. I now have experience with: Pipetting and weighing, Calcium binding titrations, pH and buffers, Statistical analysis of data, Protein purification and characterization, Cell lysis – Sonication, Chromotography with step gradient elution, SDS-PAGE gel preparation and electrophoresis (stain, destain, image gel), Dialysis, Protein analysis by mass spectrophometry (MAlDI, ESI), Western blotting and immunodetection, PCR, Site-directed mutagenesis, Engineering of a unique restriction site, Transformation of chemically competent cells, Preparation of agar plates and plating cells, Plasmid purification, Determination of DNA concentration and sequencing, Agarose gel preparation/electrophoresis, Restriction digestion/ analysis, Typhoon Scanning, etc. I spent a lot of the summer preparing proteins for a specific project that I will continue throughout the upcoming school-year. The goal of my project is to study the effect of tyrosine phosphorylation on calcium binding to Troponin and myofilament regulation in human, rat and mouse cardiac muscle. I am excited for this project to begin, I have already started collecting some interesting data!

I also kept a journal of my daily activities as well as graphed certain results from experiments pertaining to my specific project. I am still beginning to collect data so I will be to eventually analyze and possibly event present at various conferences.

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. 

My summer research experience was nothing what I expected. It was very, very time-consuming. I quickly realized I was not going to have a lot of free time, seeing as I was also taking summer courses. However, I enjoyed my experience because I found it very rewarding. I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am capable of doing research, which sometimes tests patience levels since it does not always work out the way you intend. This also expanded my critical thinking skills-when things don’t go right, you need to figure out why they didn’t go the way you wanted, and you need to be able to figure out what to change to make sure it works the next time.

I also grew as an individual. My abilities to be self-sufficient and learn how to better balance my time grew drastically when I found myself in a time crunch, doing a lot of different things at once in the lab. Planning for the future was also a skill that I grew, planning what I needed to do each day for my experiments to run smoothly.

Lastly, I learned how to work with others and grow from their knowledge, and I am grateful for the extremely knowledgeable and helpful people in my laboratory. They were always quick to not only help me when I needed help on something, but explain to me the mechanics behind what I was doing and why it was important to help me develop my skills, learn more and see the bigger picture. Not to mention the great personable skills the individuals in my lab had, they were always quick to include me in conversation or weekend sporting activities. I made some great friends along the way.

I spent the first part of my experience reading materials to understand the type of work my lab did, as well as looked over the various publications that they had submitted. I felt that my experience showed me the second part of learning. The hands on, application side of learning. I really enjoyed this because everything I had learned about in previous courses, I felt like I truly understood and had a firm grasp on when I was actually able to do the experiments for myself. I really enjoyed my time spent with this experience, and that is why I have decided to continue doing research during the school year for course credit.

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 STEP experience allowed me to get started on undergraduate research, which is something I had my mind set on doing during my undergraduate years. It has influenced my academic goals by allowing me to see that I have a passion for research as well as a passion for the work that my lab does, so it is something that I am going to continue for the next few semesters and is also something that I can begin to shape into a possible senior honors thesis.

I was really tested this summer because of how demanding research can be at times; it has affected me personally by showing me that I am stronger and more capable than I thought possible, and has made me excited to take on the future and see what other things I am capable of learning and growing from.

Lastly, this STEP experience has shown me the life of a graduate student as well as the life of a post-doc. I have learned a lot from the wide variety of people in my laboratory, learning about the various careers with a major like my own and the different opportunities that lie ahead for me.

I am very appreciative of my STEP experience, without STEP I would not have been able to have one of the most essential learning summers of my undergraduate career. Thank you!

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