Intense Training #1

I have worked for Doctor Olszewski in his lab for slightly over two years now, and I was ecstatic to spend some real time in the lab which would allow me to be more independent. However, I did not realize just how independent I would be at the beginning. The lab is a fungal immunology lab that studies a specific fungus, Cryptococcus neoformans, and we do this research in a mouse model. I have been working under my mentor, Jintao Xu, for the past two years and have grown very fond of him, but it was unfortunate to only see him only twice a week throughout the fall/winter semesters. This is why I devoted this summer just to research, and I sure got a lot of time to bond with Jintao over the first two weeks. He notified me a couple weeks before the internship started that he would be traveling back to China to visit his family for 5 of the 7 weeks my internship lasts. This was shocking at first because I was told that since I would be spending the most time in the lab compared to the other undergrad that I would be “in charge”; being in charge of a research lab in any capacity is a lot of work and can seem quite scary. However, for the first two weeks while Jintao was here we spent day in and day out together so he was able to not only teach me new skills but test my old ones to see that I really could do all the tasks he had for me as he was gone. It was a very intense training that ate up a LOT of my time, however I would never change it for anything for two reasons: 1) I was able to finally say that I took part in every type of experiment my lab had done, and even better I could actually do the experiments and find significance in data by myself for the first time. 2) I became very close to my mentor, Jintao, and learned so much more about him. Over the period of 2 weeks I learned more about him than I had in 2 years in this lab. The picture attached is one of the first days I was by myself with another undergrad and we successfully infected 40 mice by ourselves, which not only shows that we are both dedicated and learned a lot over the years, but more importantly shows that our lab trusts us and we are a part of the lab family. Hopefully not too many things go wrong while my mentor is gone but we will see. Fingers crossed!


One thought on “Intense Training #1

  • May 24, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Michael! My name is Hannah Lozon and I work at the Opportunity Hub. I will be following your blog posts this summer and I look forward to hearing more about your experience in the lab. I hope you’re feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride that all the skills you’ve been learning over the past two years (and your newly acquired ones) are being put into practice. I completely understand the pressure you might feel to be “in charge” of the lab, but it also really goes to show how much faith Dr. Olszewski and Jintao have you. Kudos!

    It was also terrific to read about how much more you learned about Jintao in those first two weeks. I’ve found that building those personal and professional relationships at work are key – when I know my colleagues and they know me on a deeper level, we’re able to trouble shoot faster, trust each other more, and all in all do better work. Will you be working in this lab during the school year as well? If so, this foundation with Jintao will only aid you.

    Finally, have you been to visit us at the Opportunity Hub before? At the end of your internship it could be great to meet with one of our coaches to really finesse how you represent your increased responsibility in the lab this summer on your resume, cover letter, graduate school applications, etc.

    I hope you have a great rest of your week, and I look forward to your next update!


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