With Journal Articles! Every two weeks in the Handelsman Lab, we have “Journal Club” where a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow leads a discussion about a journal article related to the Microbiology field.  When I first learned about this journal club, I thought, “Don’t you guys already have enough work on your plates?” But after one or two discussions, I realized it’s a brilliant idea. The only way that any project in the field of science can work is by looking at previous work done by other scientists and critiquing that work. Everyone is  expected to read the journal article ahead of time so that we’re all able to chime in the discussion. From an undergraduate perspective, it’s always interesting to see when everyone laughs at how absurd some of the methods in these articles are. In my opinion, the methods and results always seem perfectly valid, but that’s the beauty of learning from people who have so much experience in the field. It amazes me how much the people in my lab know, to the point that they’re able to look at an article and critique the work put into an experiment they’ve never worked on a day in their lives. Most people might find it a little obnoxious, but I find it pretty impressive actually.  My favorite journal club would have to be one lead on “Bacterial-Derived Uracil as a Modulator of Mucosal Immunity and Gut-Microbe Homeostasis in Drosopholia”. The title alone is enough to make anyone want to run away and hide. But the beauty of Journal Club is sitting down with students and fellows who have seven to ten years more experience than you and hashing out what that long and obnoxious title really means. This was also my favorite journal club because both of my mentors reassured me  they barely understood half of the article. For the first time, I was reminded that I’m not alone in feeling like I have an eternity’s worth of knowledge left to learn.

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