One year after graduating from the Ridgefield High School Science Research Program and now having completed college-level introductory Biology, Chemistry, and Math, I am facing a year that could be the polar opposite of the one prior. After holding on to my questions and getting an "I'll get back to you on that" from professors, I finally have the opportunity to launch an investigation. My curiosity can be quenched better than the Wikipedia search under my desk can do. Under the guidance of Dr. Robert Kurt, I will be continuing to research cancer at the college level.
In high school, I chose to research small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of cancer because I thought they were this decade's solution to making chemotherapy just a little bit safer. When asked about next decade's, I would reference immunotherapy. Using the tools your own body gives you to target foreign invaders to attack disease developed internally is simply logical.
Dr. Kurt is a professor of immunology and his research focuses on the involvement of the immune system in cancer. As I read publications from this field in preparation for the semester ahead, I get a sneak preview at the complexity of the world I'm about to explore.
Angela Duckworth says in her 2016 book Grit, "For the beginner, novelty is anything that hasn't been encountered before. For the expert, novelty is nuance." I'm no expert, but the novelty of the immune system in cancer research, to me, is a new approach to the same problem. While it may seem similar, this is not a continuation of my previous work. This is a new project, one that will broaden my skills by weaving together the old and the new experiences and approaches.
To quote Duckworth again, "Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare." Stick with what you enjoy and good things will come.