Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lessons from Journal Club

The journal club project was quite the experience. We were given a large variety of papers, even though they all shared a common idea. They all suggested tons of add-ons to NHEJ’s mechanism and uses, and showed just how extremely complicated science is. However, in all this complication, there is so much that can be learned. Giving the journal club presentation taught me a lot more about science than reading 100 papers would.

               The reason I say this is when I read papers, it’s much more of a skimming than actual analysis. The main reason is that most papers can be boring. They’re extremely formal, can be written with excessive complexity, and not always directly related to what really interests me. But there is a remedy to this. To a certain extent, you can almost pretend a paper is interesting, and that alone can help you get through it. Having a reason to read the paper beyond it being mandatory is the big help. For my paper, it was the one that sounded potentially the most interesting, besides CRISPR which had already been claimed, so going in with the mindset that I will enjoy this paper helped the reading part of this project.

               Another reason this presentation does more than reading a bunch of papers is because you’re going beyond reading and basic understanding. You need to be able to understand this paper so well that you can re-explain it to a group of very intelligent people, who will ask some extremely intriguing and complex questions about it. Due to this, you have to re-read the papers and memorize the figures. When you look at all of this as an assignment, a grade, mandatory, required, etc… it sucks. But when you look at it as an opportunity to learn, to teach, to motivate others- then it becomes so much easier.

               Putting these together, I’ve relearned the power of perspective. The way you look at a problem can totally alter your experience in dealing with it. By actively engaging in a project, you can get so much more out of it than you do if it is just another grade.

               My takeaway is to make everything an experience, not just another requirement in your never ending journey.

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