I joined the DIY Diagnostics stream of FRI in the spring of 2019 without many expectations for what I would undergo. I was intrigued by the idea of getting to work and develop with diagnostic technology, but I had little to no research experience prior to joining the stream. Throughout the first semester, I learned so much about different general laboratory and research skills as well as amazing diagnostic tools like lamp and PCR. I learned how to culture bacteria, extract DNA, and use fluorescence to quantify microorganisms. Some side advice for you, do not touch the Waller Creek water! My eyes were opened to the dedication and years of research that goes into making easy, inexpensive, and effective diagnostic tools. Beyond specific skills, I also learned what it meant to conduct real research. I was very uncomfortable and anxious with the idea of not getting the ‘right’ answer in the lab. Through my time in DIY, I learned that the process of research is long and tedious and can often lead to no answer, let alone the ‘correct’ answer. However, I started to appreciate the process of exploration and grew to enjoy research. I know that I would never have had the confidence to trust myself and simply research without expectations if I had not had the supportive environment created by Dr. Riedel, the mentors, and the other students in DIY.
I am now in my second semester in DIY and have the opportunity to create my own diagnostic tool! I have decided to explore computer science and develop an application that can diagnose if a college student is sleep deprived. The amazing thing about this research stream is the flexibility and endless possibilities of research available to you. We are able to let our curiosities and ambitions drive our research which makes going into lab so much more enjoyable. I have no doubt that the skills I learned in lab and my mindset as a researcher will continue to help me in the future.