It dawned on me Tuesday: I may not be doing an official research project per se, one involving my own hypotheses and experiments. But my own research, as I see it, is to understand the “why” behind the “what” I am doing with Olga. To see the bigger picture, to understand the purpose and uses for the techniques I learn and practice.
While I may not get published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, I am still publishing my results on this blog. It serves as a record of what I have learned, as well as a tool to encourage me to reflect on my experiences. It also forces me to truly understand what I am talking about. It’s one thing to say you “get” some complex concept; it’s another to try and write about it. You have to know something inside and out to be able to explain it in writing. Which is why, in addition to what I learn in the lab from Olga, I have been doing extensive reading and research on my own time on the Web. Scientific articles (albeit the more simple ones), encyclopedia entries, online tutorials about scientific and laboratory topics - these have filled many of my afternoons and evenings. That may sound odd, and rather boring to some. But the more I learn, the more interested I become.
Every day, between my own research and what I absorb from Olga, that "why" behind "what" we're doing becomes a little clearer. And that's what every research scientist likes to see: results.