My First Impressions with Research
Hi everyone, my name is Kuang and I am a second year physics student at UCSB. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the EUREKA! interns to get a taste of the life as a researcher at an early stage of my college career. I am working in Dr. Megan T. Valentine’s lab under the Department of Mechanical Engineering this summer and my research project is to study the mechanical properties of microtubules.
As a physics major, I have grown used to take problems apart and look at the underlying fundamental principles in order to tackle the problems systematically. So, when I first started my project, I thought that my experiments would go smoothly without any trouble as they would in theory. By the end of the first week, I had proven myself to be wrong. There were many factors that I did not put into consideration while running the experiments in my head. I learned that not everything would be 100% perfect and that sometimes the things that seem relatively easy to accomplish in theory can be quite hard to accomplish in a laboratory environment.
Even though I’ve made countless mistakes while conducting experiments, the whole research experience has been a very precious and pleasant learning experience to me. I love seeing my knowledge on the subject matter grow and seeing my lab skills improve everyday. Research allows me to learn the freshest discoveries and breakthroughs in some of the most novel fields of science and engineering that one cannot find in textbooks. With that being said, if you are someone who is willing to face many intellectual challenges in order to answer the questions that are critical to humanity, research is definitely something that you want to be involved in!
If a picture is worth a thousand words… then a movie is worth…
We study the stiffness of microtubules by taking movies of microtubules and analyzing their fluctuations.