I spent this summer away from home, being almost completely independent. I had to go grocery shopping for myself, pay rent, and basically embrace the adulthood that is rapidly approaching (but I've decided to put that off until I'm at least 30). I was a little nervous about how it was going to go to say the least. Would I like my job? (yes) Would I realize how much I've taken air conditioning for granted? (YES) Would I freak out while grocery shopping and end up buying a bunch of peanut butter and carrots? (yes) Would I binge-watch a lot of 30 Rock in my free time? (yes- and am I supposed to want Jack and Liz to get together because I have a lot of mixed feelings about that??!?)
After I hopped off the plane at Logan, with a dream and my cardigan, and somehow made it through my first sleep-deprived day (unsuccessful grocery shopping trip and all) I was ready to head to the lab the next day and see if I liked working there. The short answer is: working in a lab is the cooliest.
Yes, the cooliest.
I was lucky enough to have the unique experience of getting to work in a fly lab (a la Thomas Hunt Morgan) on my own project, concerning a gene called CtIP (CG5872 in flies, because I know you wanted to look up its sequence). I've been working here in the lab for a little less than three months so far, and I can honestly say that I've never learned so much information in such a short period of time; it is truly amazing. I sent one email to a professor during the school year about possibly working in his lab over the summer, and since then, I've performed experiments, raised more generations of flies than I can count, read over a dozen scientific papers, presented my preliminary findings, and started to have recurring nightmares dreams about fruit flies and DNA repair. Aside from getting to do some really incredible cutting-edge research, I've also gotten to know a whole lab full of interesting people who not only share my same passion for biology, but also appreciate the occasional fly pun (there are a lot of them out there, my friends).
I think the biggest lesson I learned this summer (besides that I'm really bad at grocery shopping) is that not only is working in a lab at Tufts a great way to prepare yourself for the future and add research experience to your resume, but it's also a way to gain independence, initiative, and have a ton of fun, then be able to look back and be proud of how much you've learned. And maybe, just maybe, you'll actually get some results that are significant.
To any baby Jumbos who may be reading this: take a chance this coming year and email a professor who's research looks interesting to you. What's the worst that can happen?
While I'll be leaving the lab after this week to spend some time back home with family, I already can't wait to return, check up on all of my flies, and continue with my project in the fall.