Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thoughts about the Research Proposals

I was really impressed with all the research proposals that were given yesterday. This is something I very rarely say, since I usually notice at least one presentation that does not match up to the others. However, that was not true for the 20.109 research proposals at all...unless it was our presentation that was not as good! D:

Xander and I gave our research proposal about engineering the human microbiome to combat Celiac Disease. This presentation was the culmination of almost a month of work, and I can't believe how far the project had come. Over a month ago, neither of us had any idea of what the human microbiome even did. And just yesterday, we presented a very competent plan that pursued novel research to combat a very difficult disease in a novel way.

Compared to the initial Journal Club presentation, I felt way more comfortable with my performance. Ever since I met with Atissa and watched my JC presentation, I was able to grasp the weaknesses and strengths of my presentation skills. I learned that compared to other presenters, I exude an energy that shows my confidence and excitement. So I tried to harness that advantage in an effort to garner attention from the audience to listen to the proposal. On the other hand, I tend to stutter and use filler works a lot, especially when I speak excessively quickly. For the research proposal, I tried to consciously slow down on my speaking, especially when I started talking about things I find interesting. I thought it worked out, since I barely caught myself using filler words for the proposal presentation.

In terms of working with my partner, I tried to play with our strengths in planning and presenting the proposal. I knew that Xander was particularly skilled at designing biological systems, due to the stellar work in his 20.320 design project. I asked him to research and present the technical aspects of our biological system to deactivate gluten. On my end, I personally find human microbiome research really cool, so I worked on the "big picture" aspects of our proposal. Since the two of us worked on things we were good at, it resulted in a really solid proposal. My feelings about the team dynamic between Xander and I were corroborated during the questioning period, when someone asked a two-part question about Celiac Disease and microbiome research in general. I thought it was great when Xander answered the technical Celiac Disease part and I was able to answer the microbiome research part. It demonstrated how well Xander and I complemented each other to complete a project that neither of us could have done alone. Now, it's time to celebrate with some Gluten-free beer! Preferably low in diacetyls.

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