Looking Forward

I cannot believe that it’s already March! I’ve settled into a great rhythm with my research project, seeing friends, and continuing to explore Dublin. I also recently found a wonderful little ceramics studio that I’ve been going to some evenings. I really enjoy working with my hands and it’s a nice change of pace to have a place where I can do so without the calculations and precision required in the lab.

Speaking of labs, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what will come after I finish my time in Ireland and head back to the US this summer. Last summer, I was just beginning the torturous process of applying to MD/PhD programs. I had just graduated, but while all of my friends were celebrating and enjoying some precious free time before starting new jobs or graduate school, I hunkered down to study for the MCAT and write draft after draft of my personal statement. Last semester was a whirlwind of travel between Ireland and the US as I flew back every few weeks for interviews with programs all over the country. Now, nearly eleven months later, the application cycle is finally finished! I was accepted to both of my top choices and am now in the process of trying to pick the best fit for me.

MD/PhD programs are structured so that the PhD is bookended by the medical training- the first two years of preclinical medical coursework come first, followed by however long (ideally ~4 years) it takes to complete one’s PhD, and then topped off with two years of training on the hospital wards. I’m no longer scared by the fact that I’ll be in school for at least another 8 years, but knowing that I’ll be in one place for almost a decade does add a fair bit of pressure to the decision making process! Even though I’m not sure where I want to go, I am at least confident about the kind of science I want to pursue. The tissue engineering lab I am a part of here at Trinity has introduced me to some novel approaches to cell-based therapies for degenerative diseases, and I hope to apply those to my neuroscience research during my PhD years. In particular, I’m interested in better understanding neuronal development- how young cells gain particular molecular identities, how they migrate during development, how they communicate and form connections with surrounding cells, and, most importantly, if these conditions can be replicated in disease situations to slow degeneration and induce recovery.

Overall, this is an exciting time as I wrap up my current research project and begin to think about my next one. Fortunately, I won’t have to make a decision about which school to attend until after the revisit weekends at both places in April, so until then I’m content to enjoy the slowly warming weather in Dublin!

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