Greetings fellow UT schoolmates,
Firstly, I hope you are adjusting well to the Forty Acres, after all, the campus is freaking HUGE and there are always SO many people. Not only that, but congrats on being admitted to the FRI program here at UT as well! FRI provides undergraduates with incredible opportunities and resources, which are now available to you, so definitely be sure to take advantage of them.
Secondly, I would like to tell you why I decided to join the best stream (DIY Diagnostics) in the FRI program and what I love about it. Personally, I was a bit nervous and terrified to be doing research as a freshman because I felt inadequate and not nearly as knowledgeable as I needed to be in order to be considered a “researcher.” However, when I was visiting all of the various FRI streams that appealed to me, DIY Diagnostics stood out the most to me and made the idea of research more tangible for me. Maybe it was the thought of being able to help people in third world countries with various diagnostics or Dr. Riedel’s outgoing and relaxed persona that led me to put DIY as my first choice. Whatever it was, I’m glad I made that decision.
During my time in DIY, I have learned many valuable research and scientific skills, but my favorite was probably learning to code. Prior to my first semester in DIY, I had never been exposed to coding or creating apps and I absolutely loved it! It was incredibly frustrating and challenging, but I loved it because it was like a puzzle that I just wanted to finish. Not only that, but I felt so accomplished and smart (even though I was learning basic coding material) because I could see what I had done. I remember for our first app assignment, all we had to do was add our name to the code and it would appear on the page and I was so stinkin’ excited that I sent the link to my parents and they were just like, “That’s it? You put your name on a page? Cool…” It wasn’t until I got to create my own questionnaire app that they were slightly more impressed with my work.
Originally, I was also super excited on learning how to pipette in the lab, until I did, and then it was not nearly as appealing as I thought it was. Lab assignments aren’t always the easiest, but the mentors and Dr. Riedel are super great and very helpful. Being in DIY has taught me that my primary interests are not actually working at a lab bench, which I found unusual. In fact, one of my favorite lab assignments was when we got to use the 3D printer! I made a keychain with my initials and favorite number on it. It was also something that my parents thought was pretty neat right off the bat, so that was nice too!