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Keep Calm and Culture On

          In the lab this week I prepared more competent cells and cultured some more Mnx overexpressing cultures. I also did one last check on the Gibson assembly plasmids containing the Mnx full complex with a His-tag using an enzyme digest. The results looked promising and suggested that the assembly was successful! We will know for sure next week when the sequencing results come back. Other than that, I did a lot of cloning to build up stock of plasmids containing genes of interest for the environmental stress experiments which will be used in qPCR analysis and to build positive control standard curves for those experiments.

            One of the biggest themes of my time here are OHSU and this summer in general is the forced confrontation with the fact that I am graduating college in ten short months. While this intership has given me excelent tools to help plan for my future, I don't think there'll be any webinars covering the extistential questioning and crippling indicision that goes along with finally having to answer "what do you want to do when you grow up?". Looking forward to life after undergrad (or ~real life~ as it appears from this vantage point) is both terrifying and exciting. I find myself in the extremely privileged position of having the choice of the “next step” being almost anything I choose- finances and admission to programs allowing. It defientely helps to be surrounded by all sorts of people in science and remind me that they did it and so can I. 

           This internship has given me the opportunity to talk with my mentors, lab mates and fellow interns about what they did to get where there are, what their plans are for the future and what their advice is for someone thinking about a career in research. My mentor set up a lunch date with a couple current Biology PhD students here at OHSU and I to discuss any questions I had about grad school, life or anything else from the. It was immensely helpful- I was invaluable to hear from the perspective of two young women currently in the thick of their graduate research. I have been playing around with the idea of working as a research assistant or lab technician in an institute that interests me for a year or two before deciding to pursue either a masters or PhD.  Both of the PhD students and every post- doc in my lab went straight from undergrad to either a masters or PhD program, but almost all of them say that in retrospect they would have taken a few years to work in between to avoid “burning out” on going to school. This internship has me thinking a lot about applying to grad school, but also about all the fellowship and internship opportunities that are out there for post-bac STEM majors which I would otherwise have not known about. I feel like I’m approaching an intersection with endless paths to choose, some more promising or highly regarded, others more fun and exciting. The problem is I don’t know exactly where I’m trying to end up, and even if I did, the paths do not have defined outcomes. One thing I do know is that I’m extremely appreciative that I’m in an environment that makes me ask these questions and think introspectively about what my net steps should be.