Back to wearing shorts and sandals…

…  If that is my biggest complaint with this internship then I would say the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.  For a review to those who attended the safety workshop in first week,  when working in a chemistry lab (which ours is) it is required to wear closed toed shoes and pants (of course safety goggles and a lab coat also) in the case of a chemical accident.  Well, better safe than sorry. Now that I have gotten that large concern off of my chest, lets hear the good news.

Well, I will start by asking a question.  Has this internship changed me?  Am I a different person now then who I was eight weeks ago?  I would say so.  I now have eight weeks of research under my belt.  As for how that has changed my skills and goals,  I now know how to make a scientific poster, write an abstract, present a power point in front of a very large camera and the most qualified professors, and a better grasp on what I want out of academia.  I guess overall, a large increase in my scientific “confidence.”  Yet, when I look back at what was the most important to me, it was the people.

It is kind of funny,  when I used to think of professional researchers, I would think of these very serious people in white lab coats.  Now that I have spent many hours in labs with these folks, I have found the only true stereotype is the lab coat thing but ours are blue.  These people have great senses of humor, are extremely intelligent, hardworking, and are down to earth.  Educationally speaking they are very different, electrical engineering, physics, neuroscience, polymer chemistry. I guess, our group needs to be in order to solve such a difficult interdisciplinary problem.  Yet, what I have observed to be very similar in all the researchers is their sense of curiosity.  I hypothesize this huge curiosity is what makes the lab I worked in so special.  It was the source of energy that pushed my mentor to spend many long nights in the clean room designing something new.  Yet, as I said before, it was in everyone I worked with. In our post doctoral polymer chemist, it was curiosity that helped him design a new type of functional polymer.  I even found curiosity building up in myself.

So to conclude, what INSET program has taught me is how to use my curiosity to push myself to explore research and I hope that anyone reading this unlocks their own curiosity because it is curiosity that will change this world for the better.  Ask the question, “how does this that work and how can I make it work better?”  Better yet, do it!!  It seemed to work for me. 🙂  Thank you INSET for helping me learn so much more about myself in eight short weeks.