Monday, November 18, 2013

REU in Bermuda: Be Prepared!

Hi, my name is Ameena El-Bibany.  I'm currently a fifth-year (super senior!) undergraduate at the University of California Davis majoring in genetics and minoring in animal biology.  I'm a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this fall conducting my research in the Molecular Discovery lab here at BIOS.  I've learned quite a few things during my time here both in and out of the lab.  For example, as soon as you settle into your room, find a fan.  Being Egyptian, I thought I could handle any amount of heat, but Bermuda's mixture of heat and humidity proved me wrong.  All through September and October, I felt silly for even packing pants and sweats but once November hit, I couldn't have been more grateful.  So the rule of thumb is: be prepared for extreme weather.

In the lab reviewing data.

Nonsuch Island Tour.

I learned some solid life lessons in the lab as well, the first being that even though my friends and family back home thought I was taking an extended vacation, this was far from it.  Though surrounded by beautiful scenery that makes you just want to sip some lemonade by the water, BIOSians take their science seriously.  Having advisers super dedicated to their work definitely rubbed off on me, in a good way.  So lesson number two is be prepared to work… hard.

Lesson three: things will go wrong.  But fear not because every scientist encounters this!  Something I value a lot that I've learned here is what to do when you encounter a problem, but more accurately, how to think.  You can only learn so much of this sort of critical thinking through classes in college, the rest has to come from real-life research experience.  So get ready to use your brain because obstacles in research are inevitable.  I suppose what I learned here I also learned from Scar in Lion King when he sang, “Be prepaaaaared!”  Though I guess he wasn’t really intending it as advice for research and traveling…

Oh, one more thing to be prepared for: an amazing experience in a beautiful country building skills that will take you far and making friends that will last a lifetime.  It will be well worth it.

The REU program at BIOS is supported by the National Science Foundation's Division of Ocean Sciences under Grant No. 1262880.

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