So far, my experience in Chicago and in my lab have exceeded my expectations! I’m able to work on my own project, which makes me feel like I’m honestly contributing to curing cancer. It has differed from my initial expectations because I am able to plan my day according to the experiments that I am helping with and, most times, I am not sitting in one place. The environment in my lab is very relaxed, which helps facilitate a space of learning and growth for me. It has, though, been similar to my initial expectations because I do have to attend lectures and talks, but they are all very entertaining and educational. The one thing that has surprised me in my internship is how close everyone in the lab is— it really is like a family here. Because of that, working here has only become easier and more likable.
As far as meeting new people, I have! There are other programs that are housed in the area I am staying and I make it a point to reach out to them. Myself and the other people in my program like to invite them to movie nights or dinner so that we all get to learn a little more about Chicago and future adventures that we may be able to go on.
So… mistakes are inevitable, but like I was saying before, the environment is so friendly here that no one even bats an eye! Everyone will laugh with you and help you clean up the mess because they have all been in my shoes. My first mess up was with a centrifuge. A centrifuge is a machine used to pull down smaller particles from supernatant fluid in tubes. The cells that I was centrifuging were only supposed to be spun at 300 g but I spun it at 2000 g instead. Doing this injures or kills the cells because of the stress that is placed on them. Because I needed the cells for my experiment, this step was very important, but I ended up killing my cells and starting all over! My mentor was so kind about the whole situation, regardless. We had back-up cells plated so all I had to do was split those and collect the cells that were in those plates. Luckily, the solution was easy to come by and didn’t take much time!