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Lab Life...High School to Undergrad

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Greetings, my name is Navid Tavakoli and welcome to my blog post. My goal in crafting this post is not only to entertain you, but also to inform you. Hopefully this post will enlighten you about my experiences as part of the Hashemi Lab from high school to undergrad. To be as effective as possible in sharing these valuable experiences, I believe that it is essential for me to provide you a better understanding of who I am…

“Navid was born on the 24th of November 1998. It was a lovely fall afternoon and rumor has it that immediately following the birth all the forest creatures began singing a beautiful song. It was also the time that President Clinton was in a little bit of a pickle. The next winter, as a one-year old child, he faced a vicious blizzard in South Carolina. The blizzard was his first ever exposure to snow. The snow was a beautiful, yet powerful force of Mother Nature. Navid immediately noticed the tragedy that 2 inches of snow could have on a population.”

“When you ask most of Navid’s colleagues and acquaintances, ‘Who is Navid?’, I believe the first word that comes to their mind is ‘vulpine’. If you were to ask Navid how he would best describe himself the word he uses is, ‘good’. Navid has always been an adventurous and active lad. In his younger days, Navid would often be found in the yard admiring the beautiful wildlife near his home. Upon reaching high school, Navid decided that he should get back into physical activities. Although he was not a notable athlete, Navid always worked his hardest—another spectacular quality he holds. His coaches, having noticed his hard work, kept him on the AC Flora soccer team where he advanced his skills exponentially. Navid later went on to be part of the varsity state championship winning team, AC Flora junior varsity team captain for two seasons, and received the coaches award as a varsity player. In addition to soccer, Navid also played on the Ultimate Frisbee team at AC Flora where he won one state championship and one state runner-up.”

“As successful as he was on these teams, Navid’s intellectual life was also truly remarkable. When asked why science is important Navid responded, ‘As an intellectual explorer, I believe that gaining scientific knowledge is essential to the advancement of intellectual exploration’ as cited on his senior year book. Navid excelled as an International Baccalaureate student through high school. He was also very involved with many extracurricular clubs being the president of the Key Club, an officer in ACF Young Democrats, as well as the Political Awareness club. Being the intellectual explorer that he is, Navid decided to get in touch with researchers at the University of South Carolina. After searching far and wide, he was able to meet Dr. Parastoo Hashemi.”

Hopefully these few details will help you develop a better understanding of who I am. Since the summer going into my senior year, I have been at the Hashemi Lab and I must say, it has truly been a wonderful time. I made appearances in the lab that summer through November of my senior year. During this time, I would create electrodes for Dr. Thushani Siriwardhane. Sadly, I had to begin conditioning and due to soccer practices, I was not able to come to the lab. However, the following summer I began to come back to the lab and worked under Alyssa’s guidance.

Looking back on younger days in the lab I can now see how far I have come. Initially I was simply known as “the high-schooler”, someone who wasn’t very aware of anything that was going on and was far too shy to ever communicate with anyone. Since then, I feel like I have come a far way. I am now no longer shy, the people actually call me by my name (which is pretty cool, I guess), and while I wouldn’t say that I know what’s going on in that lab, I do feel like I have developed a much better understanding of it. Over this course of time, I have had a lot of memories in this lab. I remember the first time Thushani looked at all my cut electrodes and threw nearly all of them away. I remember the time Shane thought I was ready to inject (I wasn’t). I remember the very enjoyable basketball game that Melinda, Colby, Anna Marie and I went to (in which we all had an equal amount of fun!). And who could forget Glyssa’s (Alyssa’s) birthday! Being in this lab has given me a lot, and I am very grateful for all it has given me.

For any undergrads or high schoolers who are considering working in lab this is the advice I can give you:

  1. Ask questions… that’s the only way you’ll learn

  2. Work hard and stay focused, because that’s what you’re supposed to do

  3. Hope you get a lab that’s as great as mine, because if it wasn’t for the help of Parry and Alyssa and the others, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now.

Let me leave you with this one final thought: I believe President John F. Kennedy said it best. “Ask not what your lab can do for you, ask what you can do for your lab.”

Good Luck!


*insert theme song* "Electrodes, These are my life"

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