Since the beginning of this semester, I have had the privilege of working in Dr. Caroline Hoemann’s Biomaterials and Nanomedicine Laboratory as part of the OSCAR Undergraduate Research Scholars’ Program grant. Our project is focused on testing common assays for detecting reactive oxygen species (ROS) and developing a new, easy, and efficient alternative one. The reason I became interested in this project is its usefulness in finding a way to quantify and rid the body of excess ROS that can become toxic. These ROS are thought to be precursors for many chronic diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes. I also knew that the skills that I would learn this semester would be vital to my educational development. As a freshman, I worked as a research assistant in a Bioengineering lab that was focused on the neuroscience aspect of the field and I felt like I was lacking the lab bench experience that comes to mind when one hears the word “research.” That’s why when I got the opportunity to work in a much more hard-sciences based laboratory, I jumped at the opportunity.
As a student hoping to enter medical school after graduating, this semester has really helped me hone the skills that I hope to use as a researcher later on in my career. I see this semester as the foundation upon which I can build on during my time as a medical student and beyond. Much of my weekly routine is spent doing the same things I’ll hopefully be doing a lot of in a few years. I do literature searches, write and edit study protocols, and carry out the experiment of the day either with or without the help of my mentor, Dr. Hoemann, depending on the difficulty of the test at hand.
One thing I discovered this term is that research is much more of a give and take process than I originally thought. I can’t even count the number of times I took one step forward and then two steps backward. Sure, it’s frustrating but it’s what makes the process that much more rewardable when things go right.