As this summer comes to a close, I am reflecting on the incredible experiences I’ve had. My book, On The Right Track, is now on sale at Books On the Common in Ridgefield and I was able to complete my research project at the Norris Cotton Cancer Institute at Dartmouth.
I spent three weeks working in the lab with a team of people wwho were incredibly accepting of a high schoolers entering their lab. Everyone offered to help me with every step of the process and show me all of the projects they were working on. When I first arrived, I was lost. Not only did I not know what anything was or what it did, I couldn’t even find my way around. I needed help with anything and everything. But, very quickly, I started remembering things and getting the hang of processes I had only ever read about before.
By the end of my time, I felt like a real member of the lab. I came to work early, plated my cells alone, and drugged them up using a sort of recipe card I had made up with the help of the other lab members. I set a timer and set back to wait for their incubation time to be over.
This process became habitual and I was able to make the combinations more complicated. I factored in giving presentations and observing other people’s research into my schedule. I tried to be a sponge to the knowledge in the room.
My mentor always said to me that if I know what the outcome is going to be, then there is nothing to test. So while I could’ve predicted what drug combinations we’re going to be effective, I could never have predicted how much other information I was going to learn about cancer treatments by testing that.
On my last day, I was given a copy of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” On each page were handwritten notes from everyone at the lab. Even setting the gesture of the signed book aside, the children’s book has such immense meaning and a month later as I sit four hours away from the lab reading it again, I can’t help but share it with whoever may read this.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”