For my step signature project I took place in undergraduate research. During my project I was responsible for analyzing data collected in the lab. I also performed behavioral testing on the animals, and assisted in tissue collections.
While performing my STEP signature project I developed a greater understanding of the depth and processes that occur behind the scenes of large research project and developed an appreciation for the countless hours that go into completing a research project. Before I began my STEP signature project I did not appreciate the immense amount of man hours and funding that are required to produce the scholarly research that takes place at Ohio State. After spending three months volunteering in a research lab I have developed a great appreciation for the dedication of the graduate and undergraduate students who perform much of the research, as well as the principle investigators who construct the grants and proposals. Additionally this experience has helped me to determine that a future working in a research laboratory is not something that I am interested in pursuing, although I enjoy my time in the lab, I do not see myself working in that field as a career.
My interactions with other members of the laboratory were an important factor in deciding that I did not desire a future working in a laboratory setting. Speaking with members of the laboratory who had been there for many semesters I developed a greater understanding of the true scope of laboratory work and the schedule that typically follows. The work life balance of the graduate students who work in the lab is nearly non existent. Additionally the graduate students often have erratic and non-predictable schedules resulting in shifting schedules to late nights or other changes to schedules. This inability to balance work and research responsibilities is not a path I would like to continue after receiving my bachelor’s degree
Additionally the work I performed during my STEP project helped to lead me to the decision that I did not want to continue performing research after finishing my undergraduate degree. Most of the work performed in the laboratory was repetitive, and boring. Laboratory work consists mostly of inputting data into spread sheets and various data analysis programs. Even work such as performing behavior tasks, and handling the animals is incredibly monotonous and became boring after a few weeks of performing it. Overall I found the work I performed in the laboratory to be incredibly tedious and mundane, which did not at all live up to my idea of laboratory work and turned me off from the idea of performing research in the future.
My interactions with my principle investigator while performing undergraduate research helped me to develop a greater appreciation for what it truly means to conduct research at a university such as Ohio State. Before my STEP signature project I did not know what conducting research as a principle investigator meant. My discussions with my principle investigator during my STEP project helped me develop a greater understanding of what tasks the principle investigator performs. Primarily conducting research into past publications to find source material for referencing in their own grant proposals, as well as presenting their findings at research forums, symposiums and presentations. Once again the reality of working as a principle investigator turned out to be way different from my assumptions about the career and in learning more about them I discovered that a future working as a principle investigator is not something that interests me.
My discovery that I do not want to perform research in the future is an important distinction that helps to clarify my path following my undergraduate education. Before my STEP project I was unsure if I wanted to pursue a secondary education in a graduate program or a medical program. After the completion of my STEP signature project it is clear to me that I would be much happier and ,I believe, more successful in pursuing a secondary education in a medical program. This experience has made me much more secure in my hopes for the future and as a result when the time comes that I am making the transition to medical school I will be much more confident in the decision that I made.