I think one of the reasons I knew I should stay in academia is because I love to learn. I know that sounds cheesy, like I’m just repeating what every liberal arts college graduate should say, but it is the truth. Anytime I attend a conference, go to a seminar, or (find the time to) read a paper, I get rejuvenated. I think this love of learning, and trying new and different techniques, made it easy for me to become a chemical biologist. Chemical biologists, for the most part, figure out what experiments they need to do and employ whatever techniques are necessary in order to answer their hypothesis. This means that we are not as limited to the types of science we have performed before and we aren’t afraid to try something new. This is good: we get to learn, we get to meet new people who can help us with what we want, we don’t feel restricted in our design of future plans. However, there are some drawbacks; we are more of “jack of all trades, master of none”, which can be frustrating, and we have to rely on others to help and teach us (collaborations have ups and downs). I’m sure you all know that there are benefits and difficulties in any field and (most days) I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Being at University of Richmond has its perks because we have a lot of instrumentation and the experts around that can teach us how to use it. Last summer, we tried out the TEM (transmission electron microscopy) with LOTS of help from Christie Lacy, the Director of Microscopy in the biology department. It has been fun to learn a new technique, and to get to see our particles! I snapped this photo of our resident TEM experiments, Ritwika and Shannon, on the 4th of July when they were working hard getting more pictures. They reminded me it was July 4, 2017 when we got our first beautiful TEM pictures.

I am thankful to be at a place where I can continue to learn. Just like the students I teach, in the classroom and in the research lab, I long to continue to grow intellectually. Ask yourself, what is something new you learned today? this week? this year? Did it make you excited and motivated?

~jap

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