Connor Cribb

Briefly describe your applied learning experience

I began a directed individual study course in Dr. Rhodes lab spring semester of 2016. I began by learning the basics of PCR and cloning. Once I was proficient enough to handle the basics, I was given a project to measure the biofilm capabilities of Flavobacterium johnsoniae, the main bacteria that we work with in Dr. Rhodes' lab. After working on that project for most of the semester, I was asked if I want to participate in the SURCA program over the summer. I was not going to pass up the opportunity and worked on a gene analysis study for F. johnsoniae. I continued this project through the end of the fall semester in 2017. I presented a poster at the North Carolina American Society of Microbiologists conference. This experience has made all the difference in my academic career.

Did you receive any grants or other funding for your applied learning experience?
How did you get involved in this applied learning experience and what did you hope to gain from it?

I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school but, being the first in my family to pursue an academic career, I knew nothing about how to go about it. I emailed one of my professors and asked him for some advice on the topic. He pointed me to the DIS and Honors opportunities this school offered. I reached out to a few of the professors to enroll in a DIS and Dr. Rhodes' was the lab that I ended up in. My main hope from this experience was that it would help me get in to graduate school when the time came. I have no doubt that it has.

What did you gain from this experience? What was challenging? What did you learn?

Learning basic lab techniques has helped me progress as a future scientist. It will give me hands on experience that I can take anywhere and utilize in any lab I may work in. There are a few challenges when it comes to scientific research. The two most important are precision and accuracy. Especially in a microbiology lab, both are key when all the reagents and resources used are pretty expensive. Mess up a few experiments and its like flushing money down the toilet. Preparation is key and knowing the mechanisms behind what you are doing goes a long way to help make the experiment a success.

In what way will this experience make you a more viable candidate when you are seeking a job or applying for graduate study?

The opportunity has given me the chance to make and present a poster at a regional conference where many PhD scientists attended. This puts me on their radar and lets me explain the work I have performed directly to future graduate mentors from other schools. Having a CSURF travel grant as well as a SURCA experience on my resume will make me a better candidate as it shows that I am capable of performing the work required to do the job of a graduate student.