Lauren Neal

Lauren Neal '20

Major: Neuroscience

STEM Scholars Program: Summer 2017

Research Title: Genomic Analysis of Transcription Start Site in Drosophila eugracilis
Research Mentor: Dr. Srebrenka Robic

Who inspires you?
The women in my family because they are very strong and always go after what they want and their goals.

What did you gain from the experience?  (Career-wise?  personally? academically?  fun?)
[Immediately after her first summer research she said:]I gained a lot of tactile resources because my project was only four weeks.
[After 3 summers of research, she looked back and said:]This [first research] experience opened numerous doors for me in the following academic years. I have been able to conduct research in a number of other environments on and off campus. This experience also helped me discover my career path, helping me make the switch from medicine to research-based careers.

Did you gain any self-knowledge from the research experience?
Looking back on it, I learned a lot about how I like to learn. I am most efficient when I have a problem to solve and the creative freedom to explore as many ways to solve the problem as I can. Research facilitates that by allowing me to learn about different techniques or tools and how I am able to apply them in different situations.

What was challenging about research? How do you handle those challenges (or how did you see people handle them well)?
The most challenging part about research was getting out of the mindset that the answers would be clear and that everything would work the first try. Before doing research, I was used to a traditional lab that was part of a class, with the instructions guiding you step-by-step and an answer key to make sure your answers were “correct”. My first time doing research, I often grew frustrated if the instructions for what I was supposed to be doing didn’t give me the answers that I thought I was supposed to have. To combat the frustration, I just became more patient. I was able to critically think about my next steps and take a more independent role in how I would approach the project.

Update perspective on what research has taught you
Research has taught me that there is never one way to solve a problem. It requires a high amount of patience and tenacity to complete a project because things are not going to work the way you want them to the first time, but by persevering, you can accomplish anything. Research has also taught me that you are still able to help the community from a lab bench, which is something that I struggled with when I was trying to determine what career path I want to take.

Update next steps in academic/career plans
This fall, I will be applying to graduate programs to pursue my PhD. In addition to that, I will be beginning my honors thesis in the fall, on mitochondrial dysfunction in Rett Syndrome and Schizophrenia.

Other Research experience (after STEM Scholars Program)?