Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Transition from Neuroscience Labs to 20.109

After a week of juggling class, psets, papers, and various extracurriculars, the last thing I wanted to do was write an abstract and data summary. I consistently had to convince myself to continue working and stop checking Facebook. I'm proud to say that after hours of exhausting research and sifting through data, I have finished mod1.

As I sit here and ponder the assignment, I realize why I struggled so much. I'm a bioengineering major, but I constantly find myself at the heart of neuroscience research. In nature, neuroscience labs are drastically different than biology labs. In my current UROP, I spend hours watching rats wander around a stimulation box, reporting their behavior as stimulus is applied. I've learned how to implant electrodes into the PAG and MFB regions of the brain and how to solder those electrodes together. But when I got to the 20.109 lab, I was out of my element. Most of my peers have experience doing at least the basics, and I had never held a pipet.

As I got to the data section of the report, I was overwhelmed with the amount of figures and statistical analyses I had to understand. Wikipedia had become my best friend. But, as I studied, I seemed to be more confused. How was I supposed to recognize patterns and interpret this data? How am I to know if what I have found is even legitimate? These were the questions that haunted me as I  tried to write. The fact that there was not many data points didn't help. The patterns weren't clear and I'm not yet confident in my ability to analyze these tests. As I progress through this course, I hope to gain confidence in my ability to interpret data and convey results in a clear way. I feel that by the end of the course I will be able to write a publish-worthy article. And to me, that make this all worth it.

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