Saturday, May 14, 2016

Lessons learned

I learned many important things from 20.109. If I were to make a (short) list, it would look something like this:

1. Slide titles are actually important. I used to pay no attention to the way I titled my slides (usually a generic Background and Results would do it) but Diana and the rest of the amazing BE Comm lab showed me, well actually, there is a right way!

2. Figure captions vs Results vs Discussion: After many iterations of research reports, I think I can proudly say I can differentiate between these three. Considering how confused I was in the beginning of the semester, I think this is pretty incredible.

3. Tying results back to the "big picture": Coming into 109, I was not used to thinking about how my results would affect the overall issue at hand. Maybe because in a UROP, you have your supervisor to show you those connections, so you yourself don't have to think about them as much. Or maybe it was just me. In any case, at first I found it difficult to make more out of my results than what they show. However, 109 showed me how feasible, and in fact how fun this process is. The "big picture" connect your results to whatever problem you're trying to solve, so it is actually pretty important, and pretty exciting.

4. If you don't know the answer, someone will ask you about it. General rule of thumb. I realized that, while giving a presentation, if I (knowingly or not) evade a topic, it's because I don't know much about it to talk about it. Therefore, the audience does not have that information, and so they ask about it. And then it's awkward. This is a pretty scary cycle, but now that I know how it works, avoiding it should be pretty simple.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of all the things I've learned at 20.109. Among all of the classes I've taken at MIT, this one has definitely taught me the most. About bioengineering, about communication, and about how to do science in general. I feel so much more confident and excited about this field now and it's great. Thank you everyone, it's been a great journey!

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