Sara Edwards

Professor Arthur Tomie
Aresty Research Assistant 2010 – 2011
Aresty Peer Advisor 2011 - 2012

As a rising sophomore, I applied to the Aresty Research Center as many other pre-medical students would – to gain valuable research experience and bond with a faculty mentor… and because I was encouraged to build up my resume for medical schools to peruse over.  As a beaming, fresh-faced freshman, I was interviewed by my mentor, Dr. Arthur Tomie, and was accepted to perform research at the Center of Alcohol Studies.  After undergoing many sorts of laboratory training, I began to work on a project with other Aresty Research Assistants to gauge the effect of social stimuli upon alcohol consumption and addiction in mice.  Among these students were Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Genetics, and other Biological Sciences majors, many of which, like me, were focused unwaveringly on MCATS, med school, and science up to their ears. 

Over the course of my sophomore year, I grew as a student and a researcher, and learned many valuable techniques and skills that allowed me to succeed in the lab.  I expended energy not only in my mentor’s lab, but in his colleague’s as well, performing CCI sciatic nerve surgery on mice and testing new polymers of morphine.  I met many students who avidly researched and spent most of their time in the lab, yearning for results and new scientific discovery.  However, as the year progressed, I also prepared diligently to apply to accelerated medical programs, meeting with advisors and constantly tweaking my resume.

The culmination of this preparation occurred when I asked my mentor for a letter of recommendation, and he agreed to write one after I gave him adequate information regarding my future plans and activities.  As any good college student would, I procrastinated and didn’t hand in anything for a few weeks.  The deadline fast approaching, I staunchly stared at the computer screen, willing something to come out.  Conversely, no words appeared, and as I continued to go into lab and perform surgeries on mice, I thought about how much I enjoyed working with the other Aresty RAs, working with animals, and creating good data with each run we performed. 

Needless to say, I have not mentioned a recommendation to my advisor since I had asked previously.  Likewise, I never sent in an application to the program which I had been eyeing so diligently for the past year plus of my college career.  After thinking carefully about my future plans, strengths, and interests, I realized that research had opened up another pathway I had not seen before when I was blindly aiming towards a goal I feel that almost all science undergraduates aim for.  Too often do science majors breeze through college looking ahead only to medical careers, rather than paying attention to other aspects of science such as research and development, and future possibilities such as graduate school.

After Aresty and Rutgers, I am highly considering a job in drug development or pharmaceutical business, research, or teaching.  Confirming my typical student status once more, I am still matriculating!  However, research has afforded me with the knowledge that whatever I do, I hope to still be learning from and teaching others.