Daily Practice as Graduate Students September 20, 2016
by Jian Xiong, 3rd year Ph.D student in Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
Tennis players practice 1,000 serves every day, and soccer players practice 100 free kicks everyday. For sportsman, they need to practice the same movement hundreds of times every day in order to polish their skills. Then, what should be the daily practice of graduate students in order to make our outlook brighter? In my opinion, we cannot make progress if we stay in our comfort zone, therefore, we need to do something or learn something that makes us a little “uncomfortable”. In our lab, for example, some people study electrophysiology, some focus on imaging, and some people do western blot the whole day. Everyone has a skill set that makes him/her comfortable, and this skill set can probably help them make some, but very likely limited progress. In a broader sense, in our department, some study neuroscience, some people study metabolism, some study bioinformatics, some people study cancer and some people study fundamental cell biology questions using cell lines. However, biology is a very complex system and we, as biologist, will always feel puzzled unless one day we can understand the cell or the organism in a systematic view. I propose the daily practice of a graduate student should be accumulating knowledge of biology in a systematic manner. In the biomedical field, no knowledge would make sense unless it is integrated into a certain context and that context integrated into a larger context…
Rome was not built overnight, and a system of knowledge also takes time. Be hungry but patient!