Sometime during early middle school my parents had signed me up for a subscription of TIME magazine. I would look over the magazines, pictures mainly, and would toss them in my bookshelf. There was one issue that stood out to me. The cover was dark blue with an image of a brain with what at the time looked to me as “lightening passing through the brain.” I wasn’t able to understand the article relating to the cover, but I looked at the picture often. I didn’t seriously start thinking about studying the brain until my freshman year of college. I had just moved to Pennsylvania and began my undergraduate career studying biology. I enjoyed my classes but after briefly learning about neurons in my introductory biology course, I knew I wanted to learn more. The school I attended didn’t offer neuroscience as a major, and I began to consider transferring. Would it be worth it to leave all the friends and the life I had just established to begin college somewhere else? This question kept me for months. In the ended I realized I would be happiest studying a subject I was interested in and decided to transfer.
Before transferring I wasn’t fully aware of all the neuroscience research happening around the world. There was a whole science world out there, just waiting for me. I began research because I thought it would be interesting, something I had never done before. I was starting off at a new school, didn’t have many friends yet, and thought this would be an exciting opportunity to gain more experience in neuroscience and science in general, while meeting new people. Quickly my interest in neuroscience grew into a passion, as well as frustration. So many times my experiments would not work out, there would be bouts of contamination, and data that didn’t make sense. I thought I was the only one. I figured I was just “bad at research” and this wasn’t for me.
I talked to my PIs and expressed my feelings. They reassured me that it wasn’t just me. They explained that research is difficult and requires perseverance, and they told me if I was looking for instant gratification and quick answers this was the wrong field. I thought long and hard about my options. It was true, research was difficult, and results were hard to come by. But I loved the time I spent in lab, even when I was only preparing solutions and feeding cells. I couldn’t imagine giving up research to do something else. The way I felt when I would go to lab, knowing I would never be bored and there would always be new questions waiting to be answered is what kept me going. I am so excited to be pursuing a PhD in a field I am exceptionally interested in. I know I will never grow tired of uncovering new information about the brain.