What research means to me

Austin Browning '16Austin Browning ’16 has been involved with research since his freshman year and spent the summer researching gene silencing. 

Read on as Browning explains how research has enriched his Linfield experience.

Project: Discovering and deciphering the role for a component in the miRNA-mediated gene silencing pathway

Research teaches me how “real world science” works, from the designing of the experiment, to the development of new protocols and procedures, to data collection and analysis, to communication of our project. One of my favorite parts is communicating our findings to various audiences. The ability to break down complex processes and details into relatable, easy to understand concepts, is a skill I’ll use for the rest of my life.

Research has helped me grow as an individual because there are a lot of stumbling blocks. There are days where nothing seems to be working, and you’re faced with the challenge of untangling the process to figure out what went wrong. The problem-solving and critical thinking skills are so valuable, and even though I’m learning them through the lens of research, these are skills important for life, personally and professionally.

After graduation I’m planning on pursuing a career in Public Health, an area where I can utilize my love for the sciences, passion for social justice, and interest in communication and politics. Because of my experience working in a research lab for 3+ years, earning a Liberal Arts degree, and studying abroad, I’ll be able to demonstrate to my future employer that yes I can competently work in a lab, but I also have a background in oral and written communication and presentations, I have experience working with different teams as a leader and participant, I’ve gained project management skills, and had academic and in-person experience with intercultural communication and collaboration. Not a lot of undergrads can say that, but this is really common among Linfield students, something I find pretty awesome.

When I joined the lab my freshman year we were in the beginning stages and working on experimental design, and this summer we are finishing components of the project, and starting to write the manuscript for publication. I’ve come to see just how collaborative 21st century science really is— we collaborated with other faculty and research students from the Chemistry and Physics departments, in addition to our lab in the Biology department. In addition, every week all summer science research students (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, Psychology) take turns presenting to one another about our projects and progress thus far.