Curiosity led me to embark on a summer research experience that would forever shape my academic journey. This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in Professor Jason M. Peters’ lab at the School of Pharmacy at UW-Madison, “Investigating the genetic basis of bioenergy stress tolerance on Zymomonas mobilis”. I was particularly interested in Professor Jason M. Peters' research on bacterial genetics using CRISPR-based technology, manipulating microbes such as ESKAPE pathogens to convert plant material into valuable biofuels. My hope was to learn more about CRISPR-based techniques for gene editing and have the opportunity to practice important laboratory skills and data analysis.
Research allows exploration of uncharted territories of knowledge. At first, with my lab experience being limited to what I learned from my general chemistry and biology labs at university, I felt unfamiliar feelings and was slightly daunted to be in a formal lab setting. Despite my concerns, I was especially excited to gain new laboratory skills that are essential to construct experiments.
Immersing myself in the research process, I also honed my critical thinking skills. Analyzing data sets and identifying patterns, I learned to navigate the realm of uncertainty inherent in scientific inquiry. This was extremely true when I was analyzing my data just days before the final symposium and finding that my results did not support my hypothesis.
Sharing my progress in my research project at poster sessions and symposiums was a highlight of my summer. I gained experience in conveying complex concepts to a broad audience ranging from peers, to graduate students, and professors outside of my field of study. Moreover, the summation of these experiences boosted my confidence in public speaking, an important skill of a great researcher.
Personally, one of the best parts of the summer was exploring Madison, the rich capitol city of Wisconsin. From trying deep fried cheese curds at the Farmer’s Market to kayaking in Lake Mendota, I never felt a shortage of fun things to do in Madison.
Reflecting on this transformative experience, I am filled with gratitude for the invaluable experiences that have propelled my growth. This summer endeavor solidified my passion for scientific exploration and equipped me with invaluable skills that I will carry with me wherever I go.