So it’s been a year since I started working on Polycystic Kidney Disease in Weimbs lab . When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never performed biological research techniques such as mutagenic PCR, ChIP, luciferase, western blotting, or cell culture. To be honest, I could barely find my way around the lab, and I had to constantly ask where we kept everything. When my graduate student mentor attempted to explain the current research being done in the lab, I really didn’t understand a lot of it. I can’t believe that was only a year ago.
Now I conduct experiments by myself, and am in constant conversation with my graduate student mentor in order to decide what experiment we should do next. It is so rewarding to actually discuss cell biology on that level. Although it has been a lot of hard work, I feel like I have learned so much more from my research lab than I have learned from my textbook based classes. When I come across processes that I physically perform in my lab, the concepts taught in class make more sense and I am able to ask questions that I would never ask if I didn’t work in a lab.
I have to thank my graduate student mentor and Dr. Weimbs for being patient with me, and giving me room to grow. My graduate student mentor explained processes to me, and then released my to do experiments pretty much on my own without too much prior instruction. This style of teaching really helped me to learn by making mistakes. Although I try my best to do everything correctly, the few mistakes that I do make actually are very beneficial. It helps me understand why what I did was wrong. As long as I correct my technique, I usually learn how not to make the same mistake twice.
This quarter specifically has been going really well, and I am now able to go into lab, even when my graduate student mentor is not there, and perform experiments as necessary. I feel like I am now really part of the lab, and it feels awesome. This past year has been amazing, and I can only hope that the next year is equally as rewarding.