Follow the Leader | #4

One of my goals for this summer is to experience the life of a grad student, so it’s fortunate that my lab partnered me with Chris, a 3rd PhD student here at Mayo. With only nine weeks until I have to present my work, it’s nice to be able to jump right into an ongoing project. Chris has been so helpful in getting me up to speed, sending me past publications and presentations he’s done in his time here. There was so much information the first few days, and Chris is always patient when I have questions about the procedure. He does a great job of breaking down the theoretical background in a way I can understand. My first week on the job, he made sure that I got introduced to everyone in the lab and really helped me feel welcome.

As a PhD student, Chris has great insights on what graduate school is like. I’ve had the opportunity to tag along to lectures given by visiting faculty or talks by other grad students, so I’ve been exposed to a diverse range of research topics. It’s nice to be able to listen to the talks and just absorb as much as possible, instead of trying to take notes and worry about what will be on the exam. Another enlightening opportunity I had was a seminar Chris invited me to, where grad students were learning about how to apply to industry jobs. Since all of my experience thus far has been in an academic setting, it was great to see another possible career path.

Not only has Chris been aiding me, but also most of the other summer students in the lab. We often look like a group of ducklings as we travel from bench to bench in the lab. It’s become so common to see Chris explaining new protocols to a small pack of undergrads that my coworkers jokingly call him “Professor,” showing that they also recognize what a great research mentor Chris has become.

One thought on “Follow the Leader | #4

  • August 9, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Hello Sierra!

    I’m Jenny, a student engagement intern at the LSA Opportunity Hub and I’m excited to be following your blog posts this summer!

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your experiences so far- they are thoughtfully written and I’m glad the internship is fueling you with so much positive energy! It’s great that you know what you want, and to jump at opportunities that take you outside of U-M. Working with stem cells in a orthopedic lab sounds challenging, but you are doing so well bonding with your colleagues and settling into the environment. You are right- you didn’t have to be concerned about the many things. You were selected to be a SURF student, so you got what it takes to succeed there. Keep challenging yourself to work outside of your comfort zone, and even dare to make mistakes so you can learn from them!

    Rochester sounds like an amazing city. I’ve never been to Minnesota, and now I really want to visit! I’m glad you got to explore the vibrant city, and engage in lots of summer activities. Kayaking in summer is one of my absolute faves! Describing the city as “the middle of everywhere” is so much better than saying it is “in the middle of nowhere”. It really shows how perspective changes things. It’s great that you get to develop a healthy work-life balance there, and have time to appreciate the city while doing eye-opening work!

    I’m sure you are cherishing your time with Chris- he seems to be an awesome leader and taking you to guest lectures and seminars is so helpful. Definitely keep listing out your learning objectives, and talk to him about your aspirations.

    Thank you for sharing Sierra! You have so much accomplishments to be proud of so far, and I’m sure you will gain a lot more from the internship! What are you looking forward to most, and how do you think you have changed since you began? Good luck with the rest of your research work, and I look forward to reading your next blogs!


    PS: Your picture of the Rochester skyline is stunning! Consider entering the Hub August Photo Contest for a chance to win some Hub swag!


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