Only having been in involved in biological sciences research since January of this year (when I got my own project, not counting the shadowing I did during fall quarter), the grant process was something that I dove into head first. I knew that the entire process would pose many struggles — composing something that isn’t an english paper? read through scholarly articles to gather background information? understand the entire project? produce preliminary results?
It was all over my head. There were one too many drafts that I ended up going through. At one point, my project changed, and half my grant went out the window. New background information. More sources to sift through. Learning my new samples.
It is an experience that I hope to be able to go through again in the future. I know that I have a long way to go, as I am still very much an amateur in every sense. It has only been a mere three months that I have been working intensively on my own project.
That is what summer is for. Spending time on the shores of Lake Michigan, hoping to understand how two proteins interact. Unsubstantial? Maybe. But I know that it is an honor to be granted this research grant by the university and I can’t wait to dive head first into the coming summer months.
The rains didn’t stop coming. For what seemed like eternity, the rains kept coming. Steadily. But I couldn’t be kept away from the lab.
So in a test of patience this morning, I stood out in the steady rain, backpack in tow and a tiny umbrella just big enough to protect from getting wet, I stood at the bus stop. Forty minutes later, the bus finally came. And an hour and a half later, I walked into lab, ready to start the day.
It is this patience that was test again in lab today. Helping a student with the continuation of her experiment from the previous week, she taught me to use a machine that measures the voltage of a particular sample over time. The first couple samples I got to test, the results came out skewed. So she did it herself a couple times. But after waiting for her to sift through her results and figuring out what needed to be fixed, she let me take over again do she could do what she needed to.
And the patience paid off. Because right before I had to leave lab for the day, I got to run six more trials for her.
Patience paid off. It is a test of patience. Life, that is. And it is a test I am slowly starting to take.
All I have I say is that I love coming to lab. Despite weather forecasts of torrential downpour here, I still initiated that I be dropped off at the bus stop so I could ride for over an hour to get to the lab.
I live being around the students in the lab because they are so focused, so driven, and willing to learn.
Besides, when I leave early, I get to school early and get to treat myself to some breakfast at Starbucks 🙂
I think it is pretty well known how bad the traffic in Beijing can get. It can be described on one word: horrific. (Okay at times it may be fine but for the most part it is bad.) Example: when I was a student at UCLA, it would take me about 4 hours to go from campus to my house up in NorCal. This includes the shuttle to LAX, waiting for my flight (no delays), flying, and driving from SJC to where I live. This one particular day, I was waiting for my flight and decided to give my aunt a call. At the time, she was on her way to my grandparents house. This trip typically takes 40 minutes, an hour in light traffic. This day, though, by the time I had gotten to my house, unpacked, and rested, they were still on the road stuck in traffic.
Little tangent there, but only to illustrate my point: traffic can be pretty bad at times. If you add on public transportation, well, that in itself is a whole other ball game.
This morning, for example, in order to avoid traffic since I had to take the bus to lab, I left my aunt’s place at 7:15 AM. An hour and 15 minutes later, I finally made it to school. A couple days ago, I took the bus home from school too, and that trip took about an hour and a half.
I didn’t really have a goal in mind with this post. I just wanted to share my two cents on what it is like taking public transportation (the bus) in Beijing. It is actually quite liberating. I can run on my own time, of course keeping in mind traffic…
But overall the independence is nice. Like this morning, since I got to school early, I stopped by Starbucks for tea before going to lab. The only downside of being here in the middle of the summer? The weather is not great at all.
Breakfast this morning:
They are detailed. They are elaborate. They are written in all the languages of the world. Some are translated. Some are kept in their original language. But in the end, they are reviewed and they are shared.
These papers are written by PhD students passionate about their research. They are written by students who are driven and looking to share their passion with the world. These are students who devote their lives to answering the endless stream of questions that arise as a result of their work and published papers.
I am fortunate to be a part of this process. Maybe in the future I will be sitting behind my computer screen writing my own paper but for now my work lies in reading them. And the one I am working on this summer is written (and translated) by the PhD student I am shadowing.
It is the editing process that I am a part of. The content, I don’t fully understand. But even though I don’t understand the content of the paper entirely, she still asked me to help her edit the English version.
This isn’t really anything meaningful. Or maybe it is. But at least for me, I realized the other day editing her paper, after finally reaching the end of the 23 pages, that there is so much passion, so much dedication, and so much hard work that goes into writing each sentence, each paragraph, and into crafting the final published work of art.
It seems something minimal, a task anybody can do, but the sheer action of pressing until the first stop to retrieve the sample and then pressing until the second stop to dispel the sample into a new container is a laboratory technique that is invaluable. In my second day going to lab (the past few days I spent at home or at Starbucks editing a 23-page paper), I got to do some hands on work.
That work? Pipetting 2450 microliters of water into small test tubes. Many test tubes. The action was repetitive, might I even say boring. But it took some level of patience and technique in order to ensure the exact amount of liquid — no less, no more, no air — was transferred from one container to the next.
There isn’t anything else that is too exciting. I am still working on editing that paper and looking forward to doing more hands-on work in the lab this coming week. But on a side note, my cousin treated me to get my nails done! And I am the last person who would ever get their nails done — my friends know me as the kid who does anything and everything to avoid being dressed up/dolled up.