When I first joined the Martin Lab in October 2015, I had no idea if I was interested in research. I did know that I wanted to eventually be a physician, but I didn’t know anything about medical research at the wet lab level and the impact it could have on patient care. I had little to no experience in a lab, besides the occasional exposure in lab classes during the school year. Ever since, and particularly this summer, I have been a member of every step of the research process: identifying a problem and asking questions, searching through the literature to help build the argument, conducting different experiments to try to create a comprehensive story, analyzing data, and putting it all together in the form of presentations, posters, and a publication. Although demanding at times, my job has shown me the impact each person can make through a research project and how much knowledge can be attained through delving into a minimally-explored phenomenon. For example, my main project this summer was focusing on the role of a few genes to try to identify a gene regulatory pathway contributing to proper development in the inner ear. This project seems highly specific, but the data and conclusions obtained have the potential to make a great impact on the lives of people with inner ear abnormalities down the road. I’ve realized this summer that throughout my journey to medical school and even as a future physician, I want to make sure research is a part of my life. Contributing to the world’s knowledge about any topic is something I hope to do continuously throughout my life.
Since I began in the lab, I have also been a part of quite a few outreach programs that give high school students laboratory exposure and encourage them to think about careers in scientific research. I’ll continue on this school year in the Martin Lab, and hopefully spend my gap year between graduation and medical school working in a similar context. I hope to make a great impact on the world of genetics research during this time and continue to motivate younger students about getting involved in medical research.