Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taiwan Days 6-13 - Heinz 57.

My goal tonight is to finally catch up with my posting here. Luckily, the last handful of days can be summed up pretty simply. We've been in one lab or another anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day and then spending what little energy we have left to lift the covers on our beds.

I'm not complaining - I love research. There are days when my work with Dr. Huang is one of the few things in my life that I really understand. Even when I'm not sure about something I know that I can figure things out if I'm patient and diligent enough. In fact, it's these pursuits that make research the most rewarding for me. There aren't very many other jobs where you get to help discover things that no one has ever seen before. It's even more rare to see one's discoveries branch out into an ever-increasing spiral of new questions.

Take our group's research at the end of last week and all of this week. Some of the experiments worked out pretty well, some of them didn't. Being here for only a week with limited lab access and resources, it would be great to have all the experiments work flawlessly. In my experience experiments seldom behave this way. Partly this has to do with the exaggerated element of human error that unfortunately plagues undergraduate research. I think that the different fish and equipment we're using in our experiments may also be working against us. We're used to working with fairly vigorous wild-type fish from a pet store, but all of the fish we've had access to during this trip have been a lot more fancy (ie: transgenic and highly inbred). Being almost completely different animals, we've had to make some educated guesses regarding how to modify the experiments so that they would work properly. That considered, getting even mixed results is impressive.

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