My STEP Signature Project was a research project that involved a laboratory setting pertaining to nutrition and diabetes, including the unique opportunity of being able to work with lab mice. It was on Ohio State’s main campus that I helped to research the health effects of omega 6 fatty acids on humans in diet.
While conducting research, I was and still am expanding my horizon, learning of more of the world around me. Discovery has had an incredible impact on me, as prior to my project I was less in touch with the world of research. Being able to be in an environment of thinking critically has enabled me to take on and assume more roles in my life. My role of a student has grown, and now I have also taken on the identity of a researcher. It has helped me to conceptualize the world around us that we cannot see with the naked eye, both big and small, close or far away. It deepened my understanding of how diet and diabetes are intertwined, while also linking the importance of diet in a cancer treatment setting to prevent the muscle wasting that are caused my chemotherapy. It is also with great happiness I can link the work that the Belury lab does to aid in the lives of those around me.
First and foremost, the relationship I have with my primary investigator, Dr. Martha Belury, has certainly taken on that of a mentor mentee dynamic that has been quite profound, and I believe that relationship to only grow stronger with time. We continue to talk regularly, two or three times a week to not just discuss lab progress, but to make sure that I am doing things in the best interest of my personal growth. It benefits me to have such an accomplished person to help guide me, as they have been in my same shoes and have great insight to give me.
Secondly, the graduate students that work around me, both inside and outside of lab, have been such a pleasure to work with because of the workplace chemistry I was indoctrinated into. I consider Deena, the head grad student in Dr. Belury’s lab, as an older sister after the countless hours we’ve spent together handling mice in the basement of the BRT. She is directly responsible for everything that I know, from suggesting research papers to read about, or being the one to walk me through running a PCR (polymerase chain reaction, which just replicates targeted DNA) to staining muscle cross sections. Kate, who works in a different nutrition lab, has become a close friend that I feel I can talk to her about anything. We bonded over our love of Lord of the Rings, and she even lent me the Blu Ray box set one weekend. She showed me that
Further, I feel that I have a better fiscal understanding and have acted with my personal finances to minimize debt when I get out of college. Without this project, I would not have known about certain investment opportunities nor knowing how to make a budget. Now, with my current income, I am investing in my future by setting aside money every month with a savings account. Moreover, with a budgeted income, I’m not irresponsibly spending my money, so I have greater peace of mind that’s leaving less to worry about with classes coming up.
Lastly, I credit this STEP project with my increased involvement in my fraternity. Living with and always being around my fraternity brothers this summer showed me that, though as cliché as this may sound, the best of what Greek life has to offer. I feel like I have such a powerful bond now with my brothers of Delta Sig, which led me to pursue more leadership organizations within the chapter. With my role of Brotherhood Chair, I am currently working to have people who participate in Greek life have a clearer path towards pursuing undergraduate research by working with the Office of Undergrad Research and Creative Inquiry so that they may have an equally great experience that I’ve had.
With absolute confidence I can say that this past summer will always be a defining moment in my life. It has led me to completely alter my career path and showed me that yes, this is something I can and will do for the rest of my life. My professional pathway has changed, yet the goals that drive it remain the same, and that is to succeed at what brings me joy. I certainly have found something that will be challenging yet is so fun and I just feel filled with energy that challenge aside, this is something I want to do. Academically, I will remain on the pre-health track for my degree because I still want to challenge myself academically, even though many grad schools don’t require some of the classes I am taking. However, it has altered what education I will receive after undergrad, which is to work towards a PhD rather than an MD.