Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ask, Ask Again!

I must admit, stepping onto HMS campus is a bit terrifying. That's a silly concept now that I have been here for a mere seven weeks. Since the program will soon be coming to a close, I will highlight what stood out for me the most.

Since this was my first lab experience, the trickiest obstacle I had was minuscule--handling a pipet. This shows how helpful and reassuring my lab mentors were. Although I never, at this point in my education, could understand the depth of knowledge thrown at me on a daily basis, the eagerness to listen to instructions, ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, and embrace failure goes very far in the lab. Did I mention asking questions? I can't say lab life is sunshine at every moment, for instance my first independent project failed again and again and again. But it is science. I admire the diligence scientists pursue their research with. It takes a special kind of person to put in laborious hours and string together tiny results into a glorious finding.

As laboratory research was my "job description" for the summer, FDSPR schedules special events for the students to attend. In a nut shell, we had inmate talks with highly regarded faculty and administrators who are passionately involved in medicine and scientific research. The spectrum of speakers ranged from Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership Dr. Joan Reede ( and Department of Genetics pioneer Cliff Tabin, Ph.D. ( I suggest future program participants to fully engage in these opportunities and again, ask questions. We also attended weekly sessions with our program director, Dr. Sequist (Tom, as he prefers). The objectives of our "talking circle" is to address our progress and maintain contact with each other during the weeks. Dr. Sequist also explains his research ( and tailors it to our interests, Native American health care disparities, during the talks. I suggest you again, ask questions because such critical information is covered and don't worry if you don't fully understand everything, Tom is more than willing to explain.

On the weekends, my time was spend between the FDSRP events for the students, exploring Boston, and lab work. Such outings included a trip to Harbor Islands, a BBQ with some program supporters, a Duck Boat Tour, and staying late after a Red Sox game to scope out Ellsbury. Boston is a wonderful city from its historical standpoint to its vibrant culture and future participants should make every effort to see the city. There can never be a dull moment. Also, make sure you check out the free events which is helpful when living on a budget.

I do not have the words for my appreciation to the program, Tom, Lisa, the STARS program, and my lab mentors. These 8 weeks have been the best experience of my career so far.

-Tristin Moone, 2011 FDSRP Participant
Columbia University