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Reflections on the Summer…

As I wrapped up my last few weeks of my research project in Houston, I realized that I learned a lot of things. Probably the most important thing I learned is that I want to go to med school…

Coming into this summer, I was very uncertain about my post-Caltech plans. I wavered a lot between PhD, MD/PhD, MD, and getting a job. I really enjoyed my time in the lab this summer, but I don’t think it’s something I am cut out to do for 4-6 years let alone a lifetime.

Instead, the things I liked the most about the research that was being done in my lab were the tangible medical implementations that some of the collaborating physicians presented. My favorite speakers at the "Advances in Tissue Engineering" Short Course I attended were either MD or DDS – they were able to talk about specific patients, their before and after, 4-8 year post-op updates, etc. It was awesome to see the cases they talked about and hear about the challenges they faced.

Additionally, I think I would be a lot happier in a more social environment. Even though my lab was big, I think it would be weird to mostly see the same 15-20 people everyday in addition to spending a lot of time working alone. I didn’t really realize how much I desire an extremely dynamic and social atmosphere.

Overall, some personal reflection and the opportunity I had to work in academia this summer have pointed me to this new path. I think that was probably the most important thing I learned this summer, and isn’t that really what doing summer research and internships is all about? I think so. 🙂

I really appreciate the opportunity SURF and Dr. Mikos gave me to work in the lab. Tissue engineering is an incredibly exciting field, and my interest in the subject has reaffirmed my choice to be a bioengineer!

I did want to add a picture to this post too, so I thought I’d show you some of the porous craniofacial space maintainers that my lab works with. Dr. Mark Wong (see my Advances in Tissue Engineeringpost!)is the collaborating physician that works with the patients. The space maintainers are put in place after a trauma or tumor resection to keep the bone in the correct orientation for future work. The porous space maintainers are conducive to soft tissue growth, and my lab is working to incorporate slow release antibiotics to further prevent infection.