Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Great Expectations

After submitting my lab report last night, I breathed a big sigh of relief. I had been stressing out long and hard about this paper because throughout the writing process, I kept coming to the conclusion that nothing really worked. Looking at our team's Western blot was depressing, only one of the "mutants" that we selected from the MacConkey agar screen actually had a mutation, and our team's B-gal data for NB486 and NB487 was a magnitude higher than we would have expected it to be. Our numbers were so ridiculous that I excluded them from my own data analysis. It was pretty humiliating to create a figure that had the sole purpose of showing how wrong our data was. After the last module where everything went more or less smoothly, writing this report made me feel angry and disappointed in myself.

I understand that no scientific study is perfect. You have to learn from your mistakes and try again in order to get meaningful results; it's all part of the scientific process. But being the perfectionist that I am, it was hard for me to put down on paper that some of  the experiments we performed simply did not work. I think my disappointment stemmed from the fact that we were doing these experiments in what I considered to be a "fail-safe" environment. I had the mindset that within the walls of our 109 lab, nothing could really go wrong. That's probably why instead of giving me closure, writing this report made me want to do the module all over again. Even after our experiments didn't work, I still pictured 109 as a safe place where things couldn't fail.

Yesterday as I was finishing my report, I came to terms with the fact that just because we are doing these experiments in a classroom setting doesn't mean they are going to work. After all, the whole point of this class is to give us experience working in a realistic lab environment. For our next module, I am going to take this lesson in stride and go into lab with the mindset that if our experiments are successful, then that's great. If not, I just have to dust myself off and try again (shout out to Aaliyah).

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