Since deciding I wanted to pursue chemistry in high school, I have looked forward to the day where I entered the lab and began doing hands-on research of my own. That day finally came at the start of the summer and it’s been everything I imagined and looked forward to and more. There have been days where I worked straight from 9-5, racing to complete timed parts of experiments at the exact time, analyzing results if I had time to, and scratching notes for myself about what I did to make sure everything eventually made it into my notebook. Other days were less hectic; I would have one thing to do that took a few minutes and later something else, but a lot of downtime in between. On those days, I would organize my notebook from previous days, analyze data further and organize the files, work on writing my final research report or my poster or the SRI session, or read related literature. I would also discuss my results with my lab mates and Professor Sever. This constant change in the energy of the day was something that I loved. I always considered myself a person of routine, with a set schedule of when I focused on specific subjects and when I relaxed. Not having a set schedule this summer, other than knowing that I would be in the laboratory from 9-5 every day, made each day more exciting. The first few weeks there was more downtime than usual and reading literature was incredibly difficult after two hours. But as things picked up and reading literature was spaced between experiments, it became much easier and more enjoyable. I learned that I am very much a visual learner and struggle when information is solely dictated to me. On several occasions, one of my lab mates or Professor Sever would explain something to me but it was not until I saw it written down or drawn out that I fully understood.
I also felt myself improving as an educator throughout the summer. As I had hoped, each week group meeting became easier. I learned how to present the data in a concise and smart way and how, sometimes, the data could speak for itself. Conversations with friends about what I was doing were much easier as I could finally explain it all in terms that they could understand, despite not being biochemistry majors. I found that I could still be as passionate about the material as I have been previously while being intelligible, a balance I couldn’t previously find. Before, when I explained what I was doing I would get too excited and start using terminology people couldn’t always understand as well as mixing my words together. When I would try to slow down and explain more clearly, I would lose the passion and become fixated on proper phrasing. Now, I feel confident when presenting, passionate about what I’m saying, and that I’m able to articulate the material.
I look forward to continuing doing research in the lab. I have loved running my own experiments and having the ability to plan what I would be doing under the guidance of Professor Sever. It has also been wonderful to see two new professors join the Chemistry Department as I was able to see how new professors get started at a new school and with setting up their laboratories. I also enjoyed seeing how professors operate outside of the school year. There’s a lot of behind the scenes planning, budgeting, and work that goes on. Going into this internship, I wanted to pay attention to the professors since I’m so seriously considering that career path. As the summer pulls to a close, I’m still very serious about pursuing academic research. I love running the experiments, I love explaining the results, and I love learning more about what others are doing as well as what I’m doing. This summer has been a wonderful learning experience, met with challenges and the development of new skills, and I am incredibly grateful for that.