Signature Project Reflection SU16

Name: Victoria Soewarna


Type of Project: Undergraduate Research


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP signature project focused on an interferon transmembrane protein known as IFITM3, which is known to impact the viral effects of influenza and a multitude of other viruses. The study focused on the transmembrane protein and its impact on antiviral activity. Main activities included PCR, western blotting, infection and flow cytometry.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Research has always had a strong presence in my life. I was attracted to its influence on the scientific community as well as the opportunities to continuously learn and grow. From this experience I have gained a much higher respect for those in the field. Working in research can be extremely frustrating, but it is also equally rewarding. I gained a new sense of patience and problem solving. I approach problems with a holistic view ensuring that I do not miss any detail. I am more curious and am able to see that there are an abundance of unanswered questions in the world. I see the influence and impact I have through simple experiments and studies. Conducting this work is such a rewarding experience because you see the contributions you have made and how others can benefit. Most importantly, I have realized that not everything comes easily and persistence is key to success.


  1. 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? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

I have been apart of this research group for the past 2 years, but during the school year it becomes difficult to complete experiments due to time constraints. Being in the lab full time this summer offered a new perspective of the research field. I was able to immerse myself in my studies and truly apply my knowledge to the field. I focused solely on research and what improvements I could make. I gained a better understanding of this project and tried to further develop any ideas. I was independently working on something I helped create which was an amazing and rewarding experience.

The experiments conducted were a large part of my experience, each were completely different but were all crucial to the success of the overall experiment. This perspective was eye opening; understanding that a multitude of experiments or events can lead to something much bigger was fascinating. I realized the importance of each step and that how necessary it is to reflect on them. I realize now that by gaining a better understanding of the little steps, comprehending the bigger picture is much easier.

Working on each experiment was one aspect, the other were my lab members. They each contributed something different to our dynamic. Everyday in the lab was not a chore, but an enjoyable experience. They were supportive, caring and extremely helpful. They showed me tips and tricks to help my experiments, shared life advice, and always had a joke to tell. Being around my lab members was truly a transformative experience because they showed my how to see optimism in a bad situation and grow from every failure.

The independence, experiments, and people I was able to participate in and encounter were crucial to my transformative and positive experience. From this summer I have become not only a better researcher and student, but also a better person.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Life is a collection of influential experiences and events. This signature project is an addition to that collection. The significance of this experience was its impact on my personal and professional growth. I was given the opportunity to develop my personality and character through the trials and tribulations I encountered. I was also able to enhance my professional relationships and experiences. The seminars and workshops offered were extremely helpful in networking and advancement. I was able to expand my knowledge on proposal writing, poster presentation, and speaking. Through this signature project I have been able to gain crucial experience in laboratory work. I have been able to make connections and attend seminars from professors and scientists from a variety of areas. This experience and these connections has given me more confidence in myself as well as my future goal as I move forward onto medical school.

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