Monday, August 8, 2016

On Beginning Journeys and How to End Them

“What’s the difference between a researcher and a scientist?” I distinctly recall being caught off guard by this question, unsure if this was the start of a serious conversation or the beginning of some witty banter. “I don’t know,” I said, “a scientist looks for concrete evidence of something and a researcher just seeks more knowledge.” Dr. Linder, who insists that I call her Beth, seemed satisfied with this answer and then offered me another perspective: a researcher starts their journey by thinking of an answer to a problem, and a scientist seeks only to ask a good question. “So,” she asked me, “what do you want to know?”
This question became the start of my 11-week journey to think of the best question I could ask, specifically about female sexual dysfunction. This topic, of course, was partly inspired by my mentor’s previous work and partially inspired by my interest in the recently FDA-approved female viagra (flibanserin). In line with Beth’s previous work, I decided I wanted to know about the effects of fluoxetine, an SSRI, on sexual motivation in female rats. Beth was insistent on providing me with the opportunity to engage in all parts of the scientific process, from the beginning conceptual stages all the way up to data analysis and report writing. Needless to say. my experience in this lab has been beyond phenomenal. I have truly grown more independent as a person and, as a result of working closely with two medical students who were also on a research exchange for a short time, my mind has grown to incorporate other perspectives as well.
As my final stance on the unique experience of traveling like a local, I think goodbyes are always easier when we travel like tourists. Goodbye as a tourist means eating at your favorite place or maybe visiting your favorite beach one last time; however, this goodbye is much different. I am saying goodbye to the outstanding people I have met just as much as I am saying goodbye to Floripa. I will be returning to Memphis entirely content with my experience. I will also return to Memphis and get back-to-the-daily-grind with the humbling knowledge that this place and the people I have met have made more of an impact on me than I have on them.

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