Coming Of Age

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, which lab is fairest of them all? As I understand it, there are three events in the life of a Biology Graduate Student that sit as milestones on the scientific career roadway. First, entering a dissertation lab. Second, passing qualifying exams. Third, thesis defense. I am sure other, older and wiser students and mentors have their own opinions on where each fits on the importance scale.  To me, those are the Big Three.

If you have read my older posts, you will know that some of my classmates have officially joined their dissertation labs. For those of us who did not do a summer rotation and are currently in our third, I think I can say we all kind of feel like one does when watching Titanic. Yes, it is an amazingly beautiful movie that makes me cry buckets every time I watch it (it is the only movie to make me do so). Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio was gorgeous (I say was deliberately, sorry). But how long does it take for a boat to sink? This analogy is not to undermine the importance of a lab rotation. The relationship between PI and student is one of the most sacred in science, making choosing a dissertation lab a very consequential decision. But, going into Spring term and this last rotation, I have realized whoever said patience is a virtue was clearly in science, and had a devastating sense of humor.

So, as June quickly approaches, we the remaining PMCB firsties are journeying toward our own coming of age when we finally get to join labs and departments, start our actual projects, and continue forming a more complete  version of our scientific selves. As most do when they come of age, we will look back on the past three terms and take stock of what has happened.  I do not yet know what my sweeping conclusions will be, or where I will end this first year journey. However, I know with certainty, for better or worse, positive or negative, I will have made it count.

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About the Author

A PhD candidate in Physiology & Pharmacology



Ever wondered what life is like as a student at OHSU? What does it take to become a researcher? Just how gross is gross anatomy? Welcome to the blog that answers these – and many other – questions. It’s students writing first-hand about their commitment to careers in science and health care. It’s honest about the challenges as well as the joys. It’s not always pretty. But it is our story. Thank you for sharing it with us. And please, let us know what you think.

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