What I thought about working as a researcher

When I first started working on my project, I had a very skewed vision of what research actually entailed. Having only worked in labs where the results and methods were known, it seemed to me that my project wouldn’t be all that different.

When I started researching original description of my project species (Mnestiidae) I had to learn a very different language style, as most of the descriptions were not vague and frankly quite odd. As well as being an many different languages, however with help from my supervisor I was eventually able to navigate through most of the original description.

While I was looking through the original description I had also started working in the lab, learning how to extract DNA, create cocktails for PCR and how to create gels to check if the correct gene has been found. There was a steep learning curve, however everyone working at the lab were kind enough to lend a hand and answer any questions. Most of my time on this project has been spent working in the lab, as it turns out, when the results are not known, and the methodology is not 100% certain, a whole lot of things can go wrong. I finally understand what is meant by experts being people who have done an enormous number of mistakes in a specific field. Not that I’m an expert by any stretch of the imagination, however I did learn the most from my mistakes. That is because I had to figure out why. Was it the PCR, was it the pre-PCR cocktail, what could it be inn the pre-PCR cocktail. When working through mistakes in such a fashion I came to have a greater understanding of the whole process. Working with lab technicians and my supervisor to take a deep dive into the methods used and working on the problem would give a great feeling of success when it worked, and I could see the correct gene in the gel electrophoresis.

Working in a laboratory on a project with no known result, has been exhausting, frustrating, fun and has though me what research actually means, and I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone who has an inkling towards working in research to give bio 299 a try.

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