Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Research is Not Just Butchered Mice Hearts
One 20.109 module later, I come away with a mixture of feelings about wetlab.
Before college, I had only had one experience with biology labs outside the high school classroom, and it was mediocre at best. I spent a month of my summer occasionally going to a local research lab to watch the graduate students conduct their research. They were extremely patient and kind with me, but still there were many moments where I just stood off to one side in silence, simply because there wasn't anything engaging to do at the time. The day could drag on and on. On one of the more eventful days, I got to work with a mouse heart that they were studying. I attempted to trim the fat from around the tiny heart under the microscope.
"I think I got it pretty clean. How’d I do?"
"Um, I think you cut off one of the atria."
So things were slow, and when they weren't slow, they were a little rough. I saw biological research as tedious and time-consuming, and decided it wasn't for me.
Skip forward to 20.109, my first structured introduction to biological engineering. This module allowed me to experience the lab knowing the goal of each experiment, and it made me appreciate that when you (kind of) know what you're doing, the experience is refreshingly different. I've really enjoyed learning and doing different lab techniques that I had previously heard about in textbooks. I remember certain moments throughout the module when I would just marvel over the fact that the complicated assemblage of plastic and metal tools sitting in front of me was created for the sole purpose of carrying out biological experiments.
It seems Wolverine invaded biology.
I would marvel over the fact that I was doing the things I had previously associated with "biology in college". Like, fancy college things. But while I was really excited, life would still distract from these exciting projects.
Overall, I definitely learned a lot about basic lab techniques and the experimental process during this module. I still don't think research is something I would do over an extended period of time, but I definitely have a better idea of what it entails, and I no longer associate it with just tedium and silence and chopped up mice hearts.