Making my way through my undergraduate career in neuroscience, I have a clear vision in my mind of what I would like to do once I have earned my degree here at Simmons and my PhD at whichever institution will take me. That vision encircles one thing: research.
When I share this with people, most are surprised, as the first occupation that springs to mind when a student mentions a science-related major such as neuroscience is that of a medical doctor. I have spent years explaining that I will be a neuroscientist, not a neurosurgeon as everyone assumes. Everyone, from strangers to fellow neuroscience students, finds research to be a venerable career option, just a very boring one.
I, however, have found neuroscience research to be one of the most intriguing, fascinating, and fun experiences of my life thus far.
You see, research is not always just sitting in a lab all day pipetting (although there can be quite a lot of that and it can get extremely tedious after a while). Research is a truly social field of science, where you are constantly learning from the work you are doing, your fellow scientists in your lab, and scores of others you meet along the way.
People tend to forget about conferences. Or they don’t know about them at all. Conferences are annual meetings where scientists from all over the country (or world!) gather to share their findings and hear about yours. It may not sound all that exciting, but it’s an absolute blast when you are there with people you enjoy and you are learning about things that you are passionate about.
This semester I was lucky enough to be able to attend three amazing conferences: the 2015 Experimental Biology Conference, the Eastern New England Biology Conference, and the Simmons College Undergraduate Research Conference. Not only did I learn a ton about other research being conducted by students and researchers across the country, but I was able to present the research I have been working on for almost a year.
After months of pipetting homogenized brain tissue and mounting slides full of brains, I was able to explain to my fellow scientists that there are quantifiable neuroprotective mechanisms at work when blueberry supplementation is added to the high fat diet of mice.The hours I spent standing in front of my finished poster were some of the most nerve-wracking and exciting hours of my life.
I am grateful every day for my choice in career and I am excited for the years of exciting research ahead!