Forging a New Path

With a lack of exposure to a world of different ideas, academia often at times seemed to be too much of a task for me to confront. From deciding upon which field to choose, a suitable learning environment conducive to my well-being and attempting to find a place to call home for the next several years of my life, among many other factors, some moments in the decision making process seemed more strenuous than helpful, granted that this process is key to carving out one’s future in a very fundamental way. Particularly for many of us whom derive from pasts that have lacked personal models, whom have lead a life in higher education, with the ability to guide those that follow. I in turn had carve out my own path. In addition, pursuing an education in the STEM world, in hopes of becoming a scientist presents its own set of challenges. With trial, error, perseverance and slight trepidation, I managed to progress through each course with curiosity and passion for learning as driving motivators, while simultaneously being cognizant of my performance or lack thereof and how this aspect of assessment would grant or deny my participation in certain opportunities. Little did I know that life in a laboratory would require very different modes of thought and resilience.

As a recent scholar of the MARC program, I have learned more in the past few weeks conducting experiments and gaining guidance from my mentor than what I was exposed to during many classes that I have taken before. Walking past each lab bench filled with various reagents, centrifuge tubes, pipettes, and scales, remnants from my childhood memory suddenly remind me of Dexter’s Laboratory and I find myself excited to be in this environment of discovery, that began as an original desire and thought. Although filled with tangible items useful for our ongoing inquiries, my first several weeks also exposed me to the dialogue that takes place between researchers and those aspiring to become so one day. As they probe further into hypotheses that have been revised several times, I have been able to witness firsthand how “messy” science can be in terms of the quest for answers being a never ending endeavor combined with attempting to understand concepts that have never been addressed or encountered. This part of science filled with mystery keeps the “spirit” of inquiry alive while never-ending failed attempts fuel many to consistently re-evaluate where in the scientific process a mishap may have occurred.

As I exit the laboratory each weekday, heading back to my home I find myself glad to have taken this path which had been foreign to me for an extended period of time. I have already encountered numerous lessons with experiments not resulting as expected and having to troubleshoot mistakes made along the way. Confronted with a new task foreign from my past experiences, I now consistently long to unveil the “dilemma” of the day.

Earl

As a third year student, Earl finds himself either engrossed in his school work, enjoying the company of his friends, hiking or visiting the beach. Earl relocated to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area and is now working with his mentor, excited to learn about how microRNAs influence gene expression while using C. elegans as a model organism.