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MIT student blogger Hamsika C. '13

Ups and Downs by Hamsika C. '13

Currently down.

Not gonna lie, my happy-to-sad ratio is a little sad-heavy at the moment. In the past three days, three separate experiments have gone wrong at lab. The procedures involved in these experiments (fluorescent in situ hybridization, cell-seeding, imaging, etc) are well-established, widely-accepted, and straightforward procedures, which makes me all the more upset that my experiments have not been working out.

Generally, when I make mistakes occur at lab, I mourn for about ten minutes, then move on with my life. My grad student’s policy is “you can make every mistake once.” I don’t think I’ve ever pushed the bounds of mistake-making as far as I have this summer, lol.

Except with these three experiments, I’m 100% sure that I did everything correctly. I’ve mentally run through each and every one of my actions over and over and over again. I have no idea why my experimental results emerged as they did. After 3 days – and not my usual ten minutes – of moping, I’ve finally decided to take a different perspective on this problem. I’m going to see this situation as a learning experience, a chance to learn more about the cells I’m working with, and the latest in this hepatocyte-centered scientific field.

This is turn explains why I’ve spent the last two hours of my life scavenging about Google Scholar, downloading 10+ papers, and reading through all of them. I’ve picked up so many random but interesting deets on hepatocyte behavior and challenges other scientists in the field have encountered. A frazzled post-doc in my lab today told me that science is all about failure. Reading these papers has showed me that yeah, science is about failure – but more than that, it’s about seeing failures as interesting avenues to explore, as potential for future experimentation.

That’s how I’m planning on approaching it anyway.

In other news, I’ve fallen in love!

With Boston sunrises :)

Check it out:

10 responses to “Ups and Downs”

  1. I don’t know why, but every time I browse through the MIT admissions website, I feel I am back home…. smile

  2. Khairul says:

    I’m sorry if my comment irrelevant to the post.
    I’m very curious about the avatar used in this blog. It seems all author in https://mitadmissions.org/blogs have nicely designed and unique avatar.
    How they did that? Did you generate them from photos for every new author?

  3. Christina says:

    I knew someone whose experiments went wrong for 11 months, continuously, until he found out that one of the reagents he was using (I use that term vaguely, I can’t remember if it was cells or…I think it was a protein?) was WRONG. He had, indeed, been doing everything right.

  4. KP says:

    Don’t worry, Hamsika! Failure is just another path (albeit a thorny one) to greater understanding!
    And is it just me or is the Search not working? :o

  5. Lyddie '14 says:

    Beautiful sunrises! I’m sorry about the science. I once spent several days debugging a failed PCR run. =( My parents say that you should take the time you expect science to take, multiply it by three, and then add an arbitrary number to get the time that science will actually take. I hope you feel happier soon.

  6. Snively says:

    +Khairul,
    They were sketched by an artist who used our old thumbnails as models.

  7. Niks says:

    Hamsiikaa these things happen. It’s science. Haha. Kevin and I have gone through soooooo many hurdles over the past year. You should talk to him about it. Also no one’s perfect in lab. You can ask Kartik how often I’ve made spillage in the lab. Haha.

  8. @ Nishith – Hear hear!

    @ Hamsika – Sometimes I find briefly stepping away from the problem helps the subconscious intuitions click in. It’s hit-and-miss though. Meanwhile back to hacking my simulation code…

  9. Prajyot Jagtap says:

    hey hamsika i had sent u and email on your mit id.. you didnt reply .. please chk it ! smile

  10. Khairul says:

    Thanks Snively.