The past week has really made me feel as if I am back at Cornell! Instead of spending the majority of my day in the lab, I spent each afternoon as a teaching assistant in a class entitled “The Biology of Cancer”. The class was part of “Summer at Brown”, a high school summer program that introduces students to college level classes. For three hours each day, I sat in on the lecture, graded papers, and facilitated discussions.The experience was quite rewarding and taught me a lot about my interests and passions.
My favorite part of the class was leading discussions two to three times a day. Some of the topics included the role of the media in cancer research, the effectiveness of cancer screening, advancements in genetic testing, and the role of the FDA. The discussions were a great break from the hardcore biology of the lecture and allowed the students to express their opinions. I was very surprised by the insight of the students. Their comments made me look at some of the issues in a different light. Leading the discussions made me realize that I enjoy talking about the controversial aspects of the relationship between science and society. The past week has really opened my eyes to the exciting world of teaching.
Recently, the post-doc that I work with posed the question, “What do you like more, being a teaching assistant or working in the lab?” Although the class was fun, I still feel that I enjoy the lab more. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I get exciting results or learn something new about the protein I am studying. Now that the class is over, I will return to the lab for another three weeks. I am sure that the time will fly by and before I know it I will actually be back at Cornell.