Type of Project: Research endeavors (To pay rent for a summer to have a research position in Columbus)
- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
This summer I was employed by Nationwide Children Hospital Research Institute in Dr. Mark Peeples’ laboratory as a research assistant where I worked alongside scientists and performed my own experiments. The lab researched the roles of glycoproteins G and F on the viral membrane in order to further understand the mechanism for infection of this complicated RNA virus. My research focused on the F protein and the significance of its role in attaching the viral membrane to the cell membrane to form the characteristic cell “syncytia.”
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
Pursuing my medical interests in a lab setting taught me the importance of lab research in the clinical field. I was able to appreciate the work that the researchers invest in order to translate their findings into cures and treatments. A search for a vaccine for HRSV has been in the works for over 60 years, which made working with this project more interesting and meaningful because it forces researchers to brainstorm brand new approaches to this problem. It will still be a long road to finding a vaccine for RSV, but having a small role in that was very rewarding.
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
Working with graduate, PhD and post-doctorate students gave me a larger insight into academia field careers. I valued my work and challenges that came with researching this complex and new field of which I previously had no knowledge. I saw the passion these people had for such a specific virus was amazing and how they pursued that everyday and their desire to collaborate with other labs to share ideas. It was an eye-opening experience into the research field you don’t see from the outside publications or scientific journal articles.
I was able to experience another side of science and medicine in a professional lab. I was able to see the extensive process of beginning an experiment and writing proposals for grants. It made me appreciate the planning and massive amount of effort it takes to pursue these scientific endeavors.
My plan is not to fulfill my career in virology research, however, but to continue onto medical school after I finish my undergraduate education. My research experience showed me that I have more desire to be interacting with humans to fulfill my ambition to study medicine instead of the laboratory route. The part of research requiring your analytical and problem solving skills was very enjoyable, I just have a desire to translate that into another area of medicine and this experience has given me that appreciation for the laboratory research side necessary to further develop effective medicine.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
Working first hand in a research lab helped me appreciate medical research so much more. It is also very cool to see where the fundraising money can go when you sign up for 5K’s and dance marathons to support cancer research and related illnesses. I will continue to support these goals and they will now mean so much more to me because I have seen how much the people in these labs care and put into their work.
As an aspiring physician, everything I learn in the medical field about new treatments and drugs will be appreciated so much more now that I have seen how difficult and time consuming it is to produce successful outcomes. I don’t necessarily wish to pursue a research-centered profession, but I know they go hand in hand with clinical professions. Without one you cannot have the other. I am extremely grateful for the scientists that pour their lives into looking for a cure for those they haven’t even met yet.