Unplug and Recharge – my poster presentation and what I’ve learned form my internship

I’ve officially finished my research internship at the Boyce Thompson Institute. After several stressful nights of analyzing my data, putting it into a readable form, and drawing conclusions, I whipped together a poster that shows my results. From my RNA-Seq analysis of the tomato genome, I collected a lot of information about lncRNAs and cisNATs and their involvement in the ripening of the tomato.

I’ve learned a lot of things about science and life over the past several weeks. Among the things that I’ve learned:
1. Scientists a bunch of crazy people. And that’s cool. Everyone I met was crazy about what they do. It takes a true genius to be excited by making problems more and more complex.
2. Everyone is very friendly. Scientists are quite happy to discuss any scientific work with you. And most people who are older than you only want to see you get better everyday.
3. Obsessing over work isn’t worth it. You do need to make time to have fun every now and then. A few students (myself included) would obsess over their work by putting as many hours as possible, but end up feeling dead both physically and mentally at the end of the day.
4. Apart from having fun, you need time to self-reflect. Meditate. Walk. Breathe.

At the beginning of this internship, I really didn’t have much of interest in plant biology. In fact, for biology as a whole, I was still iffy about it. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve done a complete 180-degree-turnaround and now I’ve been enlightened, but I have gotten a better idea of what biology and bioinformatics research is like. What I mean is, while I am much more interested in plant biology than I ever was before, I do not want to limit myself by specializing in it.

Here is my beautiful poster summarizing my work.

After doing some thought about bioinformatics and the direction the field is heading, I’ve decided that I don’t want to pursue a PhD or further study in bioinformatics after my college career. This is mostly because, among other reasons, bioinformatics is moving towards having people who are skilled at using the programs to study biology rather than people who want to build software and systems. I am much happier with the latter, so I will continue to jump from field to field in the pursuit of knowledge. As for happiness, I don’t think that’s something I need to pursue to have.

My sophomore year at Indiana University-Bloomington starts in two weeks and that’ll carry many, many surprises and new discoveries that are only waiting for me to be found.

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