Post 5: Final Thoughts about the Summer

Hi Everyone,

Today is July 17, the final day of my seven weeks here this summer. I cannot believe it has gone by this quickly. It has been a very busy, productive and gratifying summer. I am honored that I had this opportunity. It has confirmed for me that research is the field that I want to work in the rest of my life. But, before I head back up to Alexandria, I want to leave you with some final thoughts about my research and plans for the fall.

As I mentioned in the first post, this project was begun in April and will continue, at minimum, until next April. The water processing, PCR, tRFLP, microscopy and DNA extractions will continue. And, I could not be more excited. Dustin, a colleague of mine, and I have decided that we should never have to take another class again. We would rather spend our days in Dr. Williamson’s lab. This summer was simply that good.

Of course, I wish we had not had to face the various frustrations we did along the way. Troubleshooting PCR and DNA extraction from soils took time and energy that we would rather have devoted to continuing our projects. Added to that, manufacturer error at Millipore has completely halted our viral enumeration by fluorescence microscopy.  Despite these setbacks and frustrations, we have learned a great deal.

 We have hammered out methodologies, working out the kinks in our various protocols in order to optimize our data collection efficiency. We have learned how to think critically and problem solve. We have learned to deal with frustration and work around problems. We have even gained some experience in dealing with manufacturers and other laboratories. All in all, we have gained invaluable experience that will shape us as scientists.

As I prepare to leave, I look back at the work I have done and I am astounded by the sheer volume of data I have gathered and that we have gathered as a lab. The next step is data analysis. I have no idea where this data will lead us, but I am excited to forge ahead. You may feel as though you gained no new insight into the microbial world of Lake Matoaka and it’s watershed. And maybe that’s true, not yet at least. But, look for a paper one day with Dr. Williamson’s name, my name and the names of each of my peers. We have plenty to share and there is plenty left to learn.

 Thanks so much for reading this summer! I know I had a great time and learned a lot. I hope you learned something, too!