Senior Project Or Personal Experiences. .

1656 words - 7 pages

I-Search Paper - Final CopyLike many students last year, I kept hearing that the class of 2003 would be required to complete a senior project in order to graduate. Difficult as I thought that would be, I reminded myself that it couldn't be too much of a struggle because I already had a great topic.After an eight-day stay at Children's Hospital during the summer of 2001, which involved surgery, among many things, the chief of pediatric surgery, Dr. Henri Ford, presented me with an unbelievable offer. I had previously mentioned to him that I liked science and was interested in medicine, so he suggested that I work in his research lab that next summer. At once, I realized this was an incredible opportunity - many college and medical students often vie for this coveted position. With a grin and a handshake, I immediately accepted his offer.Other than doing experiments, attending lab meetings, and possibly shadowing surgeons at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, I was clueless as to how I would spend my summer at Rangos Research Lab. However, I was in for a major shock when I arrived on my first day - everyone else was much older and far more educated than I. So, while all the medical students, college students, and fellows were reading over their assignments, I, the high school student, attempted to read the grant.Once I discovered the NEC Grant inside an enormous binder of information, I thought, "Aha! Here's the key to my understanding what I'm going to do, and then I can easily pick a project, right?" Oh, how wrong I was. All that I derived from the 27 pages that followed was that NEC stood for necrotizing enterocolitis, which apparently meant that the intestinal walls die in infants with the disease. I was so overwhelmed by the first two paragraphs that I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" For instance, how was I supposed to know what "intestinal microbial flora"1, "sustained upregulation of inducible nitric oxide" 2, "enterocyte apoptosis" 3, or "(LPS), IFN-ã, and TNF-á" 4 meant?Over the next few weeks, things did not become clearer. My main supervisor took a two-week vacation and no one else knew what to do with me. Whenever I would inquire as to what I would be researching or what experiment I would be doing, I would only get vague responses, such as, "Oh, I'm sure you'll find something." (Of course, no one seemed to include exactly where I would find this magical "something".) During these few weeks, I faced many challenges. I constantly tried to read articles about what everyone else was working on, but the medical terminology was so advanced that I couldn't understand any of it. In the meantime, I fed the baby rats in the lab, observed Katie (a supervisor) and Atalie (a college research student) perform their experiments, and attended lab meetings where I was scared to be asked any questions for fear of not knowing the answers. At Children's Hospital, I observed Dr. Edward Barksdale in both the clinic and the operating...

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