Hi everyone, my name is Karli Rasmussen. I just graduated with the Class of 2018 as a biochemistry major and dance minor and I am spending the summer at San Francisco State University in a research lab in the Biology Department. I found this opportunity just by asking around to different Professors whose research interested me to see if they had space for me in their lab. I emailed maybe about 5 professors and Karen Crow, the head of the Fish Lab as it’s called at SFSU, answered me to say she had space for a volunteer. She has turned out to be an amazing teacher and guide through a new research lab. What I have learned most from this experience is that it never hurts to ask!
My piece of advice is this: if you don’t know what you want to do with your career and you want to try out new experiences to help you figure it out, ask around! I have found that as a recent graduate, people are more than happy to help because at one point they were in the exact same position. I have only found positive experiences and feedback when reaching out to people as a confused post-grad.
About this experience itself, I started in July, so am not even half way into it and am finally on the other side of lost (mostly). There is quite the learning curve to navigating a new research space, as every PI runs their labs differently. This is the third lab I have worked in and I am finally learning that it gets easier with time to figure it out. I am just starting to get the different research techniques down and figure out where everything is, so my next blog will focus more on my individual project.
Overall, the lab is focused on studying HoxA genes and the evolution and development of fins and limbs, mainly studying the development of the body plan of fish. Some examples of projects happening right now in the lab are the study of fin ray development as it relates to swimming patterns in skates and rays and determining the mating seasons of local surfperch. It ties back to a lecture that was taught to me and others at Skidmore in intro biology and genetics, but is all very new and exciting! I am very thankful for this experience, which is allowing me to be intellectually stimulated and still somehow feel like a student as a graduate. I am learning many new techniques and studying species that are native to where I grew up in the Bay Area, which I never imagined myself doing. This funding has been more than amazing to help me try out something new in a place that I love, which has become extremely expensive and unreasonable to live without a steady income or funding such as Skidmore has given me. Thank you so much for the funding and this opportunity!