Over the summer, I had the great opportunity to conduct research in the Pathology Department focusing on MOF and MLL, two proteins that are key factors in gene expression, and when mutated, can cause leukemogenesis and other various diseases. There is a significant difference in the amount of research you can accomplish during the summer than during the academic year. My sponsor was able to mentor me in experimental processes that spanned over several days and many hours to get results. I expanded my knowledge and skills in wet-lab techniques, writing and reading scientific literature, and learned the skills necessary for in-vitro research. Over the extensive hours I put in to better understand how and why the mutation causes reduction in mitochondrial function, liver failure, and leukemogenesis, I gained new perspectives on research that I wasn’t able to before. In many cases during the school year, undergraduate students only have enough time to go to lab, complete a couple experiments, and then leave, easily losing the big picture of the research. My ability to go in everyday allowed me to understand each experiment and why it related to the research we were conducting.
My sponsor used to tell me, “they wouldn’t call it research if it only took one time to get results.” He was right: during the summer, an immunohistochemistry experiment that took me a week to complete ended with inclusive results. This is just one example, but it happened often with different experiments. One of the most important aspects I learned was that research is a process and requires patience. In the lab, you spend most of your time modifying experiments, trying to understand what might have went wrong, finding new protocols that better suit your own research, and waiting for experiments to finish. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience research over the summer, as it has helped me make decisions for my future and gain the necessary skills for that future.