Progress and the road to success

The reality of my research this summer is that it often moved in small and incremental steps and sometimes even dead ends. When I started this summer I think I was under the impression that things would run seamlessly into another and that perhaps their was always some plan to negotiate problems, although, it fortunately wasn’t so. We time and time again encountered problems whether it be from making droplets in our device or just trying to get our cells to survive. It was a learning experience in multiple ways. It was an opportunity for me to understand mechanical systems and biology to extent I never have before as well as learning to move from scientific problems into possible solutions. What I really enjoyed this summer were those moments. The moments when things are not really understood and it requires you to ask questions on things you may never have, and in doing so you better understood what you were looking at and it became much more sophisticated.

In the past I’ve seen many military members who decide to leave the service often to get out with ambition to return or begin a college education. However, all to often it’s ambition that slowly wears thin. Whether it may be from financial issues, family constraints, or injuries or illnesses received during their enlistment. My internship this summer has personally allowed me to view education from the side of those who have succeeded in their fields and have taken their education to the top. This experience provided me with strengthened skills in presentation delivery, scientific understandings, and ultimately a view of success from those whom it has materialized.

From community college to the UC vantage point

As a community college student spending my summer here at UCSB I have been afforded the opportunity to have a broadened view of the possibilities that exist beyond undergraduate studies, and the questions that lie on the precipice of scientific research.

My focus thus far has been assisting Sarah Grundeen, a PHD student in the electrical and computer engineering department, her research involves tracking electrical signals in neural tissue in a unique way. Our aim is to map electrical signaling among neurons in a three-dimensional fashion which utilizes a multi-electrode array capable of reading those signals from left to right as well as top to bottom. This is especially important because these signals are the language by which neurons communicate, and it largely remains a mystery. Many past research projects have revolved around the use of two-dimensional surfaces for tracking signals. However, neurons like everything else in our bodies are not limited to this kind of 2D restriction, so this process allows us to gain an insight that resembles their unadulterated environment.

Participating in a research program here at UCSB really allows you to determine whether going into a graduate program is something you would enjoy, as it’s not for everyone. It has personally allowed me a better view of the trade offs that lie between industry and graduate studies. I would highly recommend anyone who has an inkling of curiosity of what happens in a research lab or what scientific improvements or progression is being made at your local campus to go ahead and get involved as quickly as you can.