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加拿大高中女孩,JHU录取之路

本文作者ZHANG同学,来自加拿大温哥华的一所高中,梦想着进入顶尖大学读书,并且对生命科学类专业兴趣浓厚。为此,参加美国名校科研,增加学术背景,开拓视野,获得真知。通过美国名校科研老师的指导,在2017年的暑假申请到了哈佛大学医学院的科研机会。下文是学生在哈佛大学科研学习结束后所写的感受。供学生家长参考。

暑假科研结束后的第4个月,ZHANG 同学在美国大学早申请EA过程中,收获了心中梦想学校约翰霍普金斯大学(JHU)的录取。全美综合排名第8。

注:中文译文是编辑进行的整理,英语能力较好的学生和家长建议直接阅读英文。

Harvard Research Program Review:

My time at Harvard Research Program has ended. It has been a fruitful month, with discussions with Mentor W and works on my own. In addition to the knowledge gained in the field of life science, which I heartily thank Mentor W for his guidance, I have come to realize several essential points to me maturing in science and research. I noted my eagerness at the first meeting Mentor W explained the mission of the research—to redesign syringe-injectable electronics using AutoCAD to overcome the device’s limitations, including its severe damage to organisms’ (mice’s) neurons as about one in twenty mice survives after being injected the electronics, and small range of neural activity detection, for only a few neurons’ signals have been detected. With excitement to start, I underestimated the difficulties, which later became evident, of coming up with a satisfyingly reasonable improved version of syringe-injectable electronics. Therefore, Mentor W’s request for me to create an AutoCAD design of the original syringe-injectable electronics in the paper “Syringe-injectable Electronics” took me slightly by surprise. What seemed at that time an unnecessary preparation or a waste of time turned out to be quite useful in allowing me to proceed further in my improvements of syringe-injectable electronics. One week after the first meeting I had another discussion with Mentor W. By that time, he had already acknowledged that my draft was good. As I questioned him about when to start redesigning syringe-injectable electronics, Mentor pointed out to me that the moment I successfully reproduced the original design I had a better understanding of the underlying principles of the current technology and that such understanding was vital to finding and overcoming the limitations of the device. Here is the first rule learned: do not begin a project with superficial understanding of its details. Researchers in sciences, especially, should pay attention to the stage of preparation because good basics can offer them insights into the core of issues.

我在哈佛大学研究计划的时间已经结束了。这是一个富有成果的一个月,与W导师讨论,并自行开展工作。除了在生命科学领域所获得的知识外,我衷心感谢W导师的指导,我认识到了我在科学研究上成熟的几个要点。我注意到我第一次见面的渴望W导师解释了研究的使命 – 使用AutoCAD重新设计注射器可注射的电子设备,以克服设备的局限性,包括对生物(老鼠)神经元的严重损害,正在注入电子,小范围的神经活动检测,只有少数神经元的信号已被检测到。随着兴奋的开始,我低估了后来变得明显的困难,想出了一个令人满意的合理改进型注射器可注射电子产品。因此,W教授要求我在“注射器注射电子”这篇论文中创建一个原始的注射器注射电子设计的AutoCAD设计,让我略感意外。当时看来,不必要的准备工作或浪费时间对于我进一步进行注射器可注射电子器件的改进来说是非常有用的。第一次会议一个星期后,我和W导师又进行了一次讨论。那时候,他已经承认我的进程很好。当我问他什么时候开始重新设计注射器注射电子产品的时候,W教授向我指出,当我成功地复制原始设计的时候,我更好地理解了当前技术的基本原理,这种理解对于找到并克服设备的限制。这是学到的第一条规则:不要对其细节进行肤浅的了解。科学研究人员尤其要注意准备阶段,因为良好的基础知识可以让他们洞察问题的核心。

While having meetings continued to discuss possible improvements for syringe-injectable electronics, I made appointments to visit several other projects that Mentor W was also working on in the laboratory of Center for Life Science Boston. They included the in-drop, which aimed to analyze massive DNAs at a single-cell level simultaneously, and biologically synthesis of materials, which hopefully could fast produce desirable proteins without extracting them from cells. Before I entered the laboratory, I had expected people wearing white coats with confident expressions step by step doing the correct process. The reality was much more different. When I entered the laboratory, Mentor W was fixing the connection between a microscope and his computer because images that were supposed to be presented on his computer failed to show up. Noticing my look of confusion, he explained to me that much of research time was dedicated to two things—designing new experiments and fixing technical problems. The actuality was, to my disappointment, less legendary than what I would like to believe. However, I could not blame the nature of research for being not very dreamy. I had never any experience with real-life research before and reading papers from natre.com and the Cell Press about many interesting discoveries about cancers and evolution had created me this illusion that research was easy or of small difficulties. Everything written in scientific journals deceived me with its fluent thought flow and made me ignore the fact that to produce a set of good data requires numerous times of testing. Most of the time when I paid my visit to the laboratory Mentor W was performing experiments related to the in-drop project. I soon learned that he had, before my arrival, worked on the project for six months without receiving any desirable result. He wished to see that an even band be produced on the gel by gel electrophoresis, by which ensuring that all RNA contained in droplets were reversely transcribed into DNA and that having complete DNA tested while surrounded in droplets was, chemically speaking, probable. I asked him what changes had he made to have that even band on the gel, and out of questions he had done many, including the concentrations and types of detergent for cell lysis, cell concentration and vitality percentage. He was testing the effects of a new detergent and I asked him what would he do in two scenes—one in which he was successful and one failed. The answer was to continue either way. Mentor W said that the project was far from being finished. If the even band still would not turn up, another method would have to be employed to fix the problem. If the even band showed, the project would proceed to another stage, in which barcodes on different sequences should be designed and further DNA analysis would be in order. This in-drop method of DNA analysis could potentially analyze cancer cells more specifically and therefore aid the process of curing cancers. However, there is a great distance between experimental success and clinical applicability, which means more experiments. Just as biology is young science, it is way to early for any research in life science to halt or finish, Mentor W sent out such message, and researchers’ work can be far less ecstatic than most people have expected, but the work is meaningful. I was fortunate and happy to witness that even band on the gel eventually on the day I left. Although the problem was in fact related to the sequence design of the genetic material and had little to do with detergents and cell concentrations, I believed that such surprise was a common part of research. There are several thoughts to be taken away from my time in the laboratory. Number one, look at the core of things and do not expect significant discoveries to come from idle hours with research apparatus. I recalled my time researching materials about optogenetics and fiber optics that could be installed in syringe-injectable electronics to expand the device’s applications, which was the idea for improvement that was finally being figured out, and I did not think for a single moment that the task was simple or could be accomplished by doodling. The core of research requires hard work. The second rule is that research is an infinite journey of explorations and within a project one stage follows another and within the field one project follows another. Mentor W’s message deeply impressed me and I believe that if I am to become a qualified researcher in sciences, I must pace myself and be convinced that the unachieved is far more than what is achieved.

虽然会议继续讨论注射器可注射电子设备的可能改进,但我还是预约访问了W导师也在波士顿生命科学中心实验室工作的其他几个项目。它们包括旨在同时分析单细胞水平上的大量DNA的插入物,以及生物合成材料,希望能够快速产生期望的蛋白质而不从细胞中提取它们。在我进入实验室之前,我曾经期待人们穿着白色的外套,一步步地做出正确的过程。现实情况更为不同。当我进入实验室时,W导师正在修理显微镜和电脑之间的连接,因为应该在电脑上显示的图像没有显示出来。注意到我的困惑,他向我解释说,大部分研究时间都是专注于两件事——设计新的实验和解决技术问题。事实上,我的失望并不像我想相信的那样传奇。不过,我不能责怪研究的本质,因为不是很梦幻。我从来没有从事任何实际研究的经验,从natre.com和Cell Press那里阅读关于癌症和进化的许多有趣的发现使我产生了这样的幻想:研究是简单的还是小的困难。科学杂志上的一切都以流利的思想流动欺骗了我,使我忽略了产生一组好数据需要多次测试的事实。大部分时间我到实验室参观时,W导师正在进行有关插入式项目的实验。我很快就了解到,在我到达之前,他已经在这个项目上工作了六个月,却没有收到任何理想的结果。他希望通过凝胶电泳在凝胶上产生均匀的条带,从而确保液滴中包含的所有RNA逆向转录成DNA,并且在化学上可能是由液滴包围的具有完整的DNA测试。我问他做了什么改变,甚至在凝胶带上出现了问题,还有许多问题,包括细胞裂解液的浓度和类型,细胞浓度和活力百分比。他正在测试一种新的洗涤剂的效果,我问他在两个场景中他会做什么——一个是他成功的,一个是失败的。答案是要么继续。W导师说,这个项目还没有完成。如果偶数频段还没有出现,就必须采用另一种方法来解决这个问题。如果偶数带显示,项目将进入另一个阶段,在这个阶段,应设计不同序列的条形码,并进一步进行DNA分析。这种DNA分析方法可能更具体地分析癌细胞,因此有助于治愈癌症。然而,实验成功与临床适用性之间有很大的距离,这意味着更多的实验。正如生物学是年轻的科学,早在任何生命科学的研究停止或完成,W导师发出这样的信息,研究人员的工作可以远远比大多数人所期望的欣喜若狂,但工作是有意义的。我幸运地高兴地看到,即使在我离开的那一天,甚至在凝胶上也会有进展。虽然问题实际上与遗传物质的序列设计有关,与洗涤剂和细胞浓度无关,但我相信这样的惊喜是研究的一个共同部分。在实验室里我有很多想法可以拿走。第一,看看事情的核心,不要指望重大的发现来自研究机构的空闲时间。我回想起我的时间研究有关光遗传学和光纤的材料,这些材料可以安装在注射器可注射的电子器件中,以扩展器件的应用,这是终于想到改进的想法,而且我并没有想到,任务很简单,或者可以通过涂鸦完成。研究的核心需要努力工作。第二条规则是研究是一个无限的探索之旅,在一个项目中,一个阶段是在另一个阶段之后,在这个项目之内,一个项目是在另一个项目之后。W导师的信息给我留下了深刻的印象,我相信如果我要成为一名合格的科学研究人员,我必须放下自己的脚步,相信所取得的成就会远不止于此。

One last important element that I experienced in this program is the lectures on different technologies in 100 Geological Hall. The lessons were intended for students in graduate schools. As the only high school student in the room, I found it both stimulating and intimidating. I did not wish to be the only fool who knew nothing about how to characterize porous materials or atomic layer deposition method, but the truth was that I knew nothing. This blunt truth struck me and made me realize my own limitations in the field of biology and chemistry, of which subjects which I was more or less satisfied with my extent of knowledge. Immediately after this discovery, I sprung into actions and began to linger after lectures so that I could ask the lecturers questions to clarify what did they mean by, for example, classifying porous materials by their isotherms. The more questions I asked, the more I began to settle down with the idea that I knew extremely little, if not nothing. At the end of the day I enriched my knowledge about some commonly utilized machines and techniques. Then I put down my final share of the wisdom I gained in the research program. Reach out for more information. Seat in a class where other students know much more than I do. By doing so I realize my short sights and subsequently I free myself from my pitiful contentment that I know already enough.

我在这个项目中经历的最后一个重要元素是100 Geological Hall的不同技术讲座。这些课程是针对研究生院的学生的。作为房间里唯一的高中生,我觉得既刺激又恐吓。我不想成为唯一一个对如何表征多孔材料或原子层沉积方法一无所知的傻瓜,但事实是,我什么都不知道。这个直言不讳的事实让我意识到了自己在生物学和化学领域的局限性,其中我对于自己的知识水平或多或少感到满意。这个发现之后,我马上就开始行动起来,在讲课之后就开始流连忘返,这样我就可以向讲师们提出一些问题来澄清他们的意思,例如用等温线对多孔材料进行分类。我提出的问题越多,我越是开始解决这个问题,即我知道的东西极少,即使不是什么也不知道。在一天结束的时候,我丰富了我对一些常用机器和技术的了解。然后,我放下了我在研究计划中获得的智慧的最后一部分。了解更多信息。在其他学生比我更了解的班上坐下。通过这样做,我意识到了自己的短暂景象,随后我摆脱了自己已知的足够可怜的满足感。

Finally, this is the end of my gains in Harvard Research Program and thank you for reading.

最后,这是我在哈佛研究计划中取得的成果的结束,并感谢您的阅读。

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