Summary of my summer research

This summer working in Dr. Shanta D Hinton’s lab has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic career. I have learned a considerable amount of valuable lab skills and techniques as well as in depth processes of cellular biology. It was a long and tiring couple months of hard work but it was truly the most fulfilling and satisfying project that I have been privileged enough to contribute to.

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Healthy Lab Relationships

It is important for members of a lab to maintain healthy relationships to keep a positive work environment that promotes productivity and results. Throughout the summer, the members within Dr. Shanta D Hinton’s lab developed and preserved very close relationships. This allowed for newer members such as myself to feel confident to ask for help when needed. The lab would often spend time together outside of work, really getting to know each other’s personalities and backgrounds that greatly contributed to a healthy lab dynamic. Because our environment was so positive, I was able to learn immeasurable knowledge and skills pertaining to the lab’s research. It was amazing to develop a relationship with our principal investigator, Dr. Hinton, as well; learning valuable life skills and obtaining advice that will surely guide each of her students toward a successful future. I am very excited to continue my work along side my colleagues and mentor.

Lab Upkeep

Throughout the summer I have learned that one of the most important parts about performing research is keeping the lab clean and tidy. Whether it be restocking lab equipment, wiping down lab benches, washing dishes, or using the autoclave to sanitize equipment, keeping a neat lab is necessary to actually perform good research. The autoclave is a machine that uses extremely hot steam to sanitize materials such as glassware or even trash to be thrown out. Lab upkeep and cleanup is a job that every lab member is responsible for and it truly takes a team effort to get it done. If the lab were to be messy, we would run the risk of contaminating cell cultures and lab equipment, preventing us from producing any viable data. Thankfully, I have been blessed with a great group of colleagues in lab that all put in great effort to keep the lab as clean as possible and running smoothly.

Resurgence

After a stretch of experimental stagnation, I was able to overcome my struggles and again began collecting usable data. My lab was able to order a new antibody that allowed for my cells to be more easily observed through microscopy which greatly helped me obtain new viable trials and collect more and better data. I also sharpened my lab techniques and slide preparation that allowed for better observations of my cells. This new resurgence in my experimentation has boosted my morale and has allowed me to further my individual experiment.

Experimental stall

Over a few of weeks of my individual research, I ran into significant stalls in progress and data collection. Whether it be from mishaps throughout the process of a trial or learning through microscopy that a trial was unusable due to poor visibility of my cells, my experimentation was slowed down for a short period of time. I honestly became disappointed and frustrated with the progress that I had been making because of the seemingly constant issues that I was running into. I was however, reassured many times from my colleagues and research professor that this was simply a part of science and that it is quite commonplace within a lab. Since this brief rough patch, I have learned how to deal with the sometimes slow pace of research and that things occasionally go wrong. Through this experience I was actually able to gain more confidence in my knowledge and practices, and believe that it will only strengthen me moving forward.