Through their lens: Matt Wood learns that patience is a virtue in the lab

This summer we’re sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to our Instagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences.

Matt Wood worked in the lab of Jim Paulson at Scripps Research Institute.

Matt Wood learning lab techniques. He submitted this image through Instagram to CIRMs #CIRMStemCellLab collection.

When reflecting upon the many experiences I have had at The Scripps Research Institute, LSSI boot camp, and many other informational sessions, I am just amazed at how much knowledge can be learned in such a relatively small period of time. And I have been able to acquire such intensive understanding, because everyone in the scientific community has made themselves a resource to the younger generation of scientists.

Additionally, the most fulfilling aspect of the internship for me was the constant hands-on nature of the work, and opportunity for me, as a self identified kinesthetic learner, to feel, sense, and maneuver a variety of subjects, tissues, and projects. On an hourly basis, I am asked to analyze or identify a certain cell line or solution. Thankfully, I am not just referring to textbook information to figure out the specifics, I get to take it under the biosafety cabinet, stick it in an electronic reader, or immerse it in an indication solution.

All this movement stimulates me immensely, however, I have learned that when some procedures or assays get a little interesting, I tend to ensue with a haste that can end up causing problems for future steps. This was my hardest lesson that I have learned, and continue to learn: the value of patience. This balance between pursuing the project quickly while carefully following protocol is an act I have still yet to master. However, through some important mistakes, I have learned that failure can always be learned from in science, and seemingly so cliché, the tortoise really does win in research.

Regarding how my peers and family have responded to my work in research, I must say that they are more than excited for my involvement in such activities so early in my career. Even though most people in my support circle have not been to college, as I am a first generation, and most cannot understand the vocabulary that we speak with in the lab, the verbal and moral support has been unwavering. Furthermore, as a minority in science, I am traveling a path that has not been traveled by many. So I will admit, there is a pressure on me to succeed for the sake of my community, but this pressure just feeds my passion, and I will gladly continue with them in mind.

As someone who did not know anyone personally with a PhD, or even knew what a research lab looked like until recently, I can say that I am beyond grateful to CIRM, TSRI, and LSSI for making this all happen. With these experiences, I will take this knowledge to college, and from there, find my path in science.

Matt Wood

Matt submitted these videos of his experience:

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