I've always been someone who's prided myself on my intelligence, and I've always been ahead of the class. From the time when I read a book to my preschool class, all the way through my undergraduate degrees, I've always felt that I was one of the smartest people in the room.

Here, in graduate school, I've reached a level where this no longer holds true. In fact, in many situations, I feel like I'm wearing the dunce cap.

At least once a day, I'm exposed to parts of biology that I knew absolutely nothing about. Sometimes I even learn about whole fields of research whose existence I couldn't even have dreamed up. While this is sometimes cool, it's also pretty overwhelming.

It certainly doesn't help that during rotations, I'm starting from scratch every two months. Due to the variety of labs I've been through, it's a constant barrage of new pathways, new techniques, and a new alphabet soup of acronyms and vocabulary that are unique to every field. For first years, 'drinking from the firehose' is an apt analogy.

At its best, grad school is exciting and invigorating. I'm around so many people who are at the top of their field, publishing groundbreaking research, and working towards noble goals. At its worst, it's disheartening and frustrating. Listening to the best researchers in their fields can make you realize how very far you have to go.

At this point, I'm more than ready to join a lab. I'm tired of classes, tired of rotations, tired of seminars over things I'll never research. I need to start making real progress toward something, no matter how distant and amorphous that dissertation may be.

That's what grad school is all about. We're not here to become the world's leading expert in biology, we're here to carve out a small niche for ourselves, whether that be in calcium channel function in mammals, or application of novel bioinformatics algorithms to the human genome. We're here to pick one thing, and research it until we become an expert in our tiny corner of science.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm ready to begin.


Written by Joel -

"drinking from the firehose" a scholarly metaphor that I'm sure we can all take out of context.

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