As I mentioned in an earlier post, my independent project involves testing the effects of herbicides in my fruit flies, in order to translate my findings into how herbicides could affect humans. I mainly focused on female fertility, development, and effects on the microbiome. I hypothesized that all three of these categories would be impacted negatively. Eventually, I found my hypothesis to be completely incorrect. There was either no effect or a positive effect on the categories I was measuring. At first, upon discovering I had predicted the wrong results, I was pretty distraught, because I posses the notion that I must be right all the time. However, I quickly realized that having results I did not predict is more valuable than getting the results that were expected. I came to this conclusion when I realized if I had found the results were exactly the same as what I predicted, I would not have learned anything new. My project would not have been as worthwhile, if my results had not been so unexpected.
I shared this realization I had, because I believe it illustrates what I have taken from this program. Undoubtedly, the actual science part and lab work was an amazing experience. I had a fantastic time being in charge of my own experiments and going in the direction I wanted to go, but the program proved to help me grow as a person, not just a scientist. I learned that making mistakes is okay, because everybody suffers from them, especially when they are trying something new, and not to be discouraged when I do make mistakes. I learned how to teach myself new concepts and do research with the resources I had at my disposal (the internet). I can more effectively synthesis data, and chose how to present it most efficiently in presentations, which I am now better at constructing and giving. I learned how to problem solve and create imaginative ways to overcome unique obstacles I encountered. On a more comedic, but still genuine note, I learned to be less clumsy. I did not run into any tables on our last day! And my hands shake significantly less when I use a micropipette. Also, I am really good at counting now, but I do not know if that translates beyond fruit flies fruit. Finally, I learned how to productively share my thoughts and ideas with people, whether I was explaining my project to a guest, talking to a classmate about what I was testing, or answering questions my instructors posed to me. Overall, TRIP was an amazing experience full of intriguing science, life lessons, and lots of laughs along the way.