Working at the Biomedical Research Center here at Michigan has further made me realize the ways I can excel in the field by taking advantage of opportunities to attend the educational events the biomedical graduate/medical departments put on for their students. As an undergraduate research intern, it is easy to fall into the trap of not attending the graduate students’ practice prelims, thesis defenses, or any other highly eye-opening lectures/talks that is offered out, for fear that these events are not intended for undergraduate students. However, my lab team and P.I. have continued to show me how far one can go just by asking questions and actively/independently seeking answers. Within this past week, I attended a practice prelim session for one of the graduate students in the Ben Allen lab. His talk on how he intends to explore the role of Hedgehog signaling in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer gave me not only a much better grasp on the biological mechanisms of the Hedgehog pathway, but have also refined the processes in which I am able to develop curious questions about the signaling pathways in our bodies. Furthermore, his outline of how he intends to explore his own questions through various long-term experiments and trials allowed me to get a better sense of how I, as an aspiring scientist, can not only ask questions, but experimentally seek answers.
Additionally, later this past week, I attended another graduate student’s thesis defense where the student proudly gave an hour and a half long talk about his discoveries of how the segmentation on organisms like drosophila can be seen not only visibly on its outer body, but can also be traced down to the actual patterning of its own DNA. His usage of ChIP-sequencing was not only seen as bold, but his patience in achieving the most accurate data showed me further the techniques, creativity, and boldness that is needed in this field, although people may not realize that.
Although this past week I have continued my own work in the project I have going on (I talked about this in my first blog post) with the post-doc I work with currently, this week was mostly about going out of my way to seek additional opportunities to learn. Especially in the field of biology, where the conservation of signaling pathways in different biological mechanisms are undeniable, so too are the processes of thinking that are needed to build efficient scientists. And certainly, at the end of the day, the lessons learned from other professors, graduate students, and post-docs all help me in my own independent research project (which explores the role of Hedgehog signaling in the olfactory epithelium of mice).