Professional Advice / Opinions:

Asking Questions

By: Bharat Kirthivasan, Co-Copy Editor (Content-focused)

It’s graduation season and some students are moving from academics to professional life. Others are taking a step in that direction. I myself am wrapping up my Ph.D. and working full time in the pharmaceutical industry as a formulation scientist. During my Ph.D., I’ve served as a Teaching Fellow; I’ve taught Pharmaceutics and Compounding labs to the students of the Pharm.D. program—an engaged and industrious set of people. Also, in many students, I have observed a curiosity that—when combined with youthful irreverence to time-honored axioms—is fertile ground for research. Some people simply yearn to know how something works and why something else doesn’t.

If you’re one such student, research might be the field for you. Scientific research is more than lab coats, beakers and antibody titers, though there’s plenty of that. It’s a mindset—of questioning everything. In the realm of research, you get to wonder about esoteric concepts and everyday occurrences, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you get to provide an answer or two. But mostly what you will do is make it a little easier for the next person, as many have done for you.

During my experience in St. John’s University, I have come across highly motivated undergraduate students working on research projects under the guidance of professors. The benefits to one’s résumé need not be pointed out. What I believe they also gained is a surer understanding of statistics and logic—a gift that will keep on giving. Performing research makes you scour reams of literature and teaches you to tease out causation from observed correlations, but, mainly, it affords you an uncanny talent for detecting fallacious logic as you critique others’ research and your own. Many students have benefited this way and I hope that many more will in the years to come.

Don’t get into research because you are looking for a breakthrough. The odds are overwhelmingly against any particular one of us delivering insulin orally or curing a deadly disease, but if we all work and keep fighting what seems like a losing battle, someday, somebody will hit that breakthrough. And on that day we will all have won. Therefore, to the curious among you, I highly recommend research, either on the side during your undergraduate studies or as a profession. Happy Graduation everyone!

[pubmed_related keyword1=”pharmaceutics” keyword2=”compounding” keyword3=”resume”]

Published by Rho Chi Post
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