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By: The Dunn Lab

It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air….a love for research that is.  As researchers, we know all too well how easy it is to get caught up in a daily routine and forget about why we love what we do. This Valentine’s Day we’re taking a step back to reflect on the incredible work we have the privilege of doing as scientists.

So, if you’re a student wondering about whether a career in research is right for you – or are an active researcher seeking some inspiration, here’s a list of the top 10 things we love about research.


1.     It provides the chance to learn new things.

 Research is all about discovering, learning, and sharing. “It’s amazing to have a job where we are paid to constantly learn new things and use that learning to help improve the world around us. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” - Erin


2.     You get to work with all kinds of different people.

 Research is a community that benefits from interactions and collaboration with people from all around the world. When you have the opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds, your eyes open to different perspectives. It’s incredibly humbling to think that in a world with so many different languages, cultures, and customs, scientific discovery is something that can cross borders. It reminds us that we really are “all in this together.”


3.     You can turn mistakes into learning experiences.

As researchers, mistakes are part of our job description. We’ve all had experiences where things haven’t turned out exactly how we expected them to.  Sometimes it’s good to laugh at these mishaps. We love following twitter accounts like @accidental__aRt, which shows some of the hilarious plots that are generated by accident by researchers coding in R.

4.     You can take your learning anywhere. 

 Research doesn’t have to be a 9-5 desk job, and we are constantly reminded that our insights can grow anywhere and at any time. One of our favorite ways to learn is by listening to podcasts about all-things science. The Effort Report and Hello PhD are both amazing podcasts that talk about navigating everyday life in academia, from graduate school applications to NIH study sections. “My favorite thing about these podcasts is that they show accomplished professors are human beings who have struggled with time management, imposter syndrome, or writer’s block. They can really enjoy a good glass of beer too (Hello PhD opens each episode with a chat about beer).” – Yiwen. Cheers to that!


5.     You’re in a field where knowledge grows fast.

 In a field where knowledge is growing exponentially, it can be hard to keep up. We love finding new ways to stay up to date. A great way to do that is watching Crash Course YouTube videos, such as the Crash Course Psychology series. “They’re a fun way to get exposure to many of the same names and concepts you’d cover in an introductory psychology textbook. And even better, they’re all free!” -Katie

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6.     You get to read a ton of books.

Since we are exposed to an endless amount of resources every day, we love discovering books that help teach us the “impossible”. One of our recent favorites is called Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction by Kieran Healy. It has helped members of our lab enhance their data visualization skills by providing a hands-on introduction to plotting data in R and discusses the do’s and don’ts of data visualization. “By the end of the book, you’ll be a pro in producing honest and effective graphs and figures.” - Janine

7.     It provides the chance to have shared experiences.

 One of our favorite parts of research is learning about people’s stories. How did they come to research the topic they study? What motivates them to do their work?  And where do they find their inspiration? Check out Erin’s post about her experience at the One Mind’s 24th Annual Music Festival for Brain Health and learn how sharing her work made a lasting impact on her and others.


8.      It fosters constant bravery and persistence.

Presenting research at conferences, submitting publications, and sharing your ideas with others can be anxiety-filled experiences for many people. After all, in many ways we live in a world filled with constant rejection.  However, we love that every opportunity we are given to share our work, gives us a chance to grow into stronger, more confident researchers.  It’s not about how many times you lose, it’s about how many times you can get back up.


9.     You have the power to make a difference in the world.

 It’s incredible to have a platform where we can use discoveries to make a positive change in the world. Research gives you the power to study problems the world is facing, and then offers an opportunity to translate discoveries into tangible ways to help real people. We find it inspiring seeing researchers come together to share the importance of their work and their goals for the future.


10.   You get to celebrate when it all pays off!

 Who doesn’t love a good celebration! One of our favorite things about research at the Dunn Lab is celebrating our accomplishments after all is Said & Dunn. Whether that’s celebrating amazing feedback from reviewer 2, a completed thesis defense, or zooming past the occasional speed bump, it’s always nice to reflect on our successes.

We hope you take some time this Valentine’s day to spread some love about research and share what brought you to this amazing field, and the reasons why you stay. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, The Dunn Lab