submitted by Tania Perez
I’m already on my fifth week of my internship, and it feels like just yesterday when I was so confused on the terminology my mentor was using. As the weeks have passed, I have learned so many amazing things. I’m surprised I even understand it! So far, we have done many trials of creating a biophysically dense in vitro microenvironment using inert macromolecules such as Ficoll which is supposed to accelerate extracellular matrix (ECM) production. We believe that creating native tissue-specific ECM may help to maintain the stemness of the cultured-limbal cells. We used immunostaining to compare the ECM production by these cells under dense vs. standard culture condition. I am so happy now because I know the immunostaining protocol by heart. Knowing this procedure is very important in most of the research labs, and I’m overjoyed I get to see it done so many times. Also, the results of my project seem pretty good.
Being a researcher is a tough job. There is a lot of waiting time periods with many unexplained results. What I like the most about research is that sometimes your outcomes cannot be predicted. Moments before viewing the results is the most terrifying and exciting time of the whole process. I feel myself cringing as I anxiously await for the best outcome. It may not be the way you expected but the remarkable thing about research is that you have the opportunity to change the results by altering certain factors. For example, I had the privilege of seeing the western blot procedure. For a couple of months my lab members had problems with western blot, but they troubleshot and finally got it to work. The moment they figure out the problem I realized the real power a researcher has! They are capable of thinking and experimenting new ways to prove their expected results. Sure, it took awhile to troubleshoot but along the way they learned so many new things. As a researcher, you are always learning. I had never considered being a researcher, but now I may be looking at a new path for my future career.