Kidney Research Internship: Branching Out from the Comfort of Cornell

This week, sophomore Dean talks about exciting new opportunities that await him this summer and how Arts and Sciences has helped him step out of his comfort zone and challenge himself. 

By Dean Kim ’20, Chemistry major, East Asian Studies minor

This summer, I will be participating, along with 12 other undergraduates from across the country, in the UAB Kidney Undergraduate Research Experience Program.

As the semester comes to an end and the weather gets warmer, I’m looking forward to packing my bags and traveling to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School campus where I’ll be participating in their Kidney Undergraduate Research Program (KURE) for the summer! The College of Arts & Sciences has helped me prepare for what lies ahead by teaching me how to explore and think independently.

Me presenting research at the Boyce Thompson Institute Plant Genomics Summer Research Symposium last summer!

Coming to Cornell, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And while I’m still a Chemistry pre-med undergraduate as planned, I have also discovered new interests and changed my outlook on learning through taking distribution requirements. Arts and Sciences has taught me the importance of meeting new people. In my core Chemistry courses, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people with similar interests as myself. Having classes together each semester has allowed us to bond and form close friendships. However, when I took a course in film history this semester, I met a whole new group of people with different interests, hobbies, and perspectives. Branching out in my classes exposed me to a diverse group of people that had new ideas and experiences I could learn about.  While staying in my comfort zone felt safer, the most beneficial experiences I’ve had at Cornell have been when I had left my comfort zone and explored. For instance, I discovered a new hobby by taking a juggling class, and took interest in the East Asian Studies minor after taking a Religious Studies course last fall.

Touring Song Lin’s Lab in April 2018. On the left is Juno, a graduate student in Professor Lin’s Lab. I’ll be conducting organic chemistry research in the Lin Lab next Fall!

Arts and Sciences has also taught me the importance of problem-solving. Hard work can never be overstated, but smart work is often overlooked. In my studies, I’ve learned that there is never a singular way to do anything or one perfect solution. For example, the way I study for organic chemistry does not work for studying sociology or film studies. I have learned how to adapt when I face challenges. This has been an essential skill that has helped me in my research lab at Cornell and will continue to help me as I conduct kidney research this summer. Thanks of these lessons learned through Arts and Sciences, I was inspired to leave my comfort zone of Cornell and my hometown of Wilton, CT to branch out. I’m extremely excited to make new friends and new experiences at UAB this summer.