Introduction to My Research Weeks After I Finished It

Hi! First of all, I understand that this might seem a little late to be writing a post about the beginning of my summer research, but it took time to process everything I did and have decided to do (and my time management skills are poor), so I’ve decided to write my posts now that I have hindsight to help.

I began the summer thinking I was going to do research on caroteniod pigmentation in Mimulus petals (if you read my abstract, you’ll get a good sense of what was going on). This was a project I had begun work on last year but for a variety of reasons, including my own inattention to detail, it never fully got off the ground. However, in the two weeks I was at home between the end of the school year and the beginning of the first summer session, I realized that if I had to do research for an entire summer I’d drive myself insane. I’m much more comfortable with the big picture, and doing PCR and running gels and pipetting requires an incredible amount of attention to detail that I just don’t have.

With this in mind, I went to Dr. Josh Puzey, my PI, advisor, and overall incredible member of the W&M faculty, and let him know what I was thinking. We both agreed this was kind of a problematic situation because I had been funded for this project that I no longer had the means or drive to complete; fortunately, there was another position in lab that I felt suited me much better: greenhouse outreach coordinator.

I spent this summer collecting information on over 300 plants in the W&M greenhouse, compiling it on a website, and ordering plant tags with individual QR codes that, when scanned, would provide the scanner with information specific to that plant. It was an incredibly involved project with lots of different moving parts, but I ended each day feeling genuinely happy with the work I had done and looking forward to tomorrow.

The next few posts will detail the work that I did this summer, so if you’re interested in or can relate to huge life changes, plants, or emailing¬†companies¬†five times before getting a response, read the rest of my entries!





  1. emturrietta says:

    Hi there! I really enjoyed this introduction, because I also just wrote an introductory blog post! I’m excited to read your other posts and follow your research. Off the bat, I was interested in this post because it’s about plants, and I also did biology research this summer. I respect the ability you had to recognize a concern with your original project and switch to something different, yet equally as impactful and meaningful! I’ve been into the greenhouse once and was overwhelmed with the amount of plants, finding myself wanting to learn more about some of the funny looking ones. This is a really amazing idea, I’m sure with a rewarding end result.

  2. Rick Stevenson says:

    I think this is an important narrative for all of us to hear. To varying extents of course, perhaps less dramatic than in your case, but nevertheless, I think this happens constantly with anyone conducting this kind of intensive study. Changing course is hard, I’m sure in a case like this especially so, but it’s a critical part of the learning process, and I think everyone doing research can be more open about the ways the more-or-less accidentally got where they’re at. Thank you so much for sharing!

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