- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
My STEP project consists of a research initiative that explores the connection between the vitality of retinal ganglion cells and the extent of injury sustained in traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. I was tasked with the immunohistochemistry work on a specific cell type in the retina: Intrinsically Photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells or ipRGCs.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the
world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
Before my project truly began in earnest, I had an idealistic point of view in regard to the research process and the world in general. When I previously thought about how research was conducted, I imagined a brand-new high-tech lab equipped with all white, perfectly cleaned receptacles and tools. Inside this lab there would be a scientist who would discover everything they sought to know within one or two experiments. This far from the case. Research is messy, it’s slow and sometimes tedious, but it’s also amazing at the exact same time. Through the process of participating in research, I was reminded of the reason that I fell in love with science in the first place. Everyday working in the lab, I was confronted with the reality of how little we know about the world that we live in and how much we still have to discover. And every day still I got to participate in the chipping away toward a new revelation.
- 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
Overall, one of the biggest catalysts in my transformation of thought was the personal responsibility that I was tasked with throughout this process. Throughout the research process, I had a certain number of tasks that I had to complete. If I were to not complete them, no one else would and the project would suffer as a whole, not just my own personal grade or result as it is with many of my academic classes. It was through this responsibility that I was able to fully curate a level of scientific comfort on my own and truly engage in the scientific process. This enabled me to truly experience what science is at its very roots: a process of trial and error conducted to know just a little bit more about the world.
Additionally, another integral part of my development throughout this process was the scientific freedom that I was allotted by my faculty member. During my time, I was constantly left to my own devices with a task to complete that was vital to the quality, success and overall progression of the project. While initially this was daunting, my faculty member was always available to help me if I needed it and eventually, I gained a fair amount of confidence and comfort working on my own and pondering what it was exactly that I was studying, which cemented the reality and weight of my work.
Overall, I believe that this experience has been an essential part of my development as a student here at Ohio State. Through the responsibility that was bestowed upon me and the scientific freedom that I was granted, I was truly able to gain a deeper understanding of the scientific world. Additionally, I feel as though I was even able to apply many of the concepts that I have learned in the numerous lab classes that I have been enrolled in throughout my 3 years here at Ohio State.
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
This development is very important to me both academically and personally. As of now, I intend on applying to medical school in the near future. This experience is not only very important for admission to medical school, but my success in medical school and even much later on as a medical professional. This is because it has strengthened my understanding of the scientific world and improved my comfort level with the unknown aspect of science, which are both very vital.