Ever since coming to Northeastern University, I have wanted to get into a lab to do research. From a young age, doing research has always been my dream. When I first came here in the fall, I couldn’t help but be jealous of all of the articles I had read about undergraduates getting into labs and being published multiple times. After hounding a few professors, I was lucky enough to be accepted by a microbiology professor as a work-study student. I initially thought that all I would be doing was helping to set up his lab, but I was proven wrong very quickly. To my great surprise, this opportunity developed into what I had wanted all along; an enthusiastic professor mentoring me in how to conduct research.
In high school, doing lab reports was always a pain and I never really understood why you had to be so meticulous and record every step you took. However, once I got into a lab and began doing research on an acetate transporter in B. subtilis, I quickly learned how important it was to keep track of all of my procedures and findings. With so much information going through my head, like what tools to use for certain procedures, what ratios of media to bacteria to use, etc., I was soon getting overwhelmed. However, my professor took the time to sit down with me and explain why we use certain reagents, why the bacteria are grown at certain temperatures, how we prove certain ideas, etc. By the end of this semester, I was even able to get my first true set of data that supported my hypothesis and gave me a good track to continue looking at. Even though a lot of the research I had done was reconfirming my professor’s research, he and I sat down and tried to discern deeper meanings from our data. Initially, this started as just a project to determine the identity of a gene, but now we are looking at the role that acetate plays as a regulation factor for many more genes involved in biofilm formation.
This initial experience in the lab has developed into a directed study for next semester, in which I will be spending more time trying to prove our hypothesis. By receiving an Honors Early Research Grant, I will be able to use the money for potentially presenting my research at the Boston Bacterial Meeting in the summer, as well as for purchasing many of the reagents I need for carrying out some of the more complex experiments. Overall, the undergraduate research I am doing is fueling my passion for science and I highly suggest anyone considering doing research to find an opportunity to do it. For me, this initial interest has developed into a passion and I am very excited to come back in the fall and see what my professor and I can figure out.
Kevin Gozzi, Biology