Yesterday was the final day of my second research rotation and I am sad it’s over. I do have to admit that I cheated a little bit this year, I am rotating in the same lab with the same PI as last summer. Typically, most programs expect you to rotate through at least 2 different labs, but my experiences here last summer (plus I came back once or twice a month during the school year to keep working on my paper) made me certain that this was the lab I wanted to stay in. For anyone else considering this, it is important to be aware of the risks of this choice and make your decision based on your knowledge of your PIs funding and plans for staying in the institution (you don’t want them to leave just as your start your PhD). For me, through my rotation, I have also been able to connect with other potential PIs, in case either of these things change.
I am very happy I made the decision to stay in the same lab again this summer. So as to not bore you with walls of text, I will try to briefly list what I have been involved in.
- Finally able to submit last summer’s paper
This was a long endeavor. We re-wrote this paper many times over the course of the school year and then (finally!) about a week after I started working in the lab again for the summer, we were able to submit it. Great news: it was accepted and published already! You can read it here.
- Presented last summer’s work at a conference
I was able to travel with the lab to a conference I had wanted to attend for years, The College on Problems of Drug Dependence, in Montreal. I presented a poster on last summer’s work (the paper that has just been published) and attended many interesting presentations. I had a great time, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to go. It is definitely a conference I want to go back to.
- Submitted a paper on injection heroin use
In the spring I had presented a poster on race differences in injection heroin use at the CUNY Institute for Health Equity Conference. This poster was based on analyses I ran in the lab during the year. During the first month of the summer I was able to write up these data and submit the paper. It’s been more than a month since we submitted, so we hope to hear something soon. I’ll let you know!
- Started research on a paper I can’t write yet
It may sound somewhat boring to have not been able to write anything up yet, but I am really interested in genetics and addictive behaviors and I got a chance to do some research into this topic. I was happy to be able to spend some time researching something that I hope to write about in the future. Unfortunately, we were not able to access the data in time for me to write it up.
- Write a paper on co-morbid sedative & heroin use
I finished the third round of edits yesterday, and if all goes well it will be ready to submit in the next week or so. I looked at the impact of different types of sedative use (either using sedatives exactly as prescribed by a physician or misusing them in some way) on health outcomes in regular heroin users. The question was whether the health problems (e.g. overdose risk) associated with concomitant use were the same across the different use groups.
- Collaborate on a paper on treatment outcomes
Because I was in the lab, I was able to help put together some data and give feedback on a paper about treatment outcomes in treatment resistant methadone patients. We submitted this paper earlier this week!
These are just the semi-tangible achievements and do not include the skills I learned (especially statistics) and the fact that I actually enjoyed coming into the lab each day. It is amazing the difference that liking the environment you work in can make; I really recommend it!