With time ticking past each week, I felt more and more stressed as I had no clue what I would research for my independent project. Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places and this certainly applied to my journey here at TRIP. As a high-schooler who has experienced first-hand the challenges of being a junior in virtual school, it’s an understatement to just say that this year has been tough. However, these struggles (and I mean a lot of struggles) turned out to be somewhat beneficial. These highs and lows shaped what transpired to be my research project for TRIP. Whether it was staring at screens all day or missing out on the interactions that in-person school offered, I felt as though I wasn't absorbing information the way I used to. This curiosity eventually led me to the question of whether screen time and/or isolation impacted learning in any way.
I came in one week feeling determined to conduct an adult memory assay, all for my mentor to tell me “this assay doesn’t really work!” Feeling disappointed, I switched gears to conduct a behavioral assay that was correlated to learning. This wasn’t exactly what I wanted to research, but it taught me that flexibility is essential in any setting and that one must find a way to adjust if something doesn’t go according to plan. However, a student in the morning session developed a new memory assay and when I heard of this news, I immediately expressed interest in this! I was asked if I wanted to start all over and focus the remainder of my time on this new memory assay, and without hesitation, I immediately took on the opportunity. Not only did I get to research my original interest, but working with the student who developed the new experiment taught me the importance of collaboration in life and how innovation is sparked from trying new things. The lab taught me that conferring with peers allows one to overcome obstacles and how a combination of independent work and teamwork is essential to advancements.
I finally got to test memory on adult fruit flies, but things weren’t exactly smooth sailing from that point on. It turned out that this memory assay required multiple “training periods” for each fly, which meant that I had to start coming into the lab from 8 AM to 6 PM (yes… 10 hours… every Saturday). Despite the grueling task of waking up so early, this taught me the importance of time management and I must admit that time really did “fly” by every week. I was researching something that I was truly passionate about and the amazing mentors and friends that I’ve met at TRIP definitely made the journey more enjoyable.