MHC science students share internship insights

Kathy Shaw '17

 

I spent my summer in the beautiful city of Düsseldorf, Germany, researching in an environmental aging lab at the IUF-Leibniz Institute for Environmental Medicine. Over twelve weeks, I studied the transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and the expression of its target genes during heat shock stress response in C. elegans. We wanted to understand whether AhR has a role in the aging process in humans, aside from its roles in xenobiotic metabolism and lipid metabolism. 

Working under the supervision of my wonderful mentor and P.I. alongside my multi-national, English-speaking colleagues (our lab members hailed from seven different countries!) was a singular experience I will never forget. This DAAD/RISE internship, funded by LYNK, not only showed me the very real, nitty-gritty, logistical side of research, but also gave me the chance to work and live in a different country. On the weekends, I also had the bonus opportunities of traveling to other countries in the European Union. After graduating, I plan to pursue post-baccalaureate research in an aging lab, possibly again inGermany, and apply to graduate schools.

Kaussar Rahman ’18

This summer I participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Enrichment Program at the Yale School of Medicine. This is a free six week program that is focused on providing resources and information for disadvantaged students entering the health field. While at Yale, I took courses in topics such as organic chemistry, physics, public health and social justice in medicine. I also attended conferences that provided me with resources on how to become a better medical school applicant. Lastly, I shadowed doctors at Yale New Haven Hospital in the Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics Departments. 

One thing I treasure from this program is the abundance of resources, friends and connections that I have made. It was an intense six weeks, but I would do it all over again. In the future, I would like to attend medical school in hopes of becoming an obstetrician gynecologist. I would like to go back to my homeland of Ghana and help improve the health disparities there.

Hannah Seay '17 

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I spent the summer at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in the pediatric allergy department studying the role of the microbiome in allergic proctocolitis and food allergies. Specifically, my project has followed one thousand infants over their first few years of life to observe the development of allergic diseases by isolating DNA from the infants’ stool samples. I would then characterize the microbiome in each infant’s gut and measure IgE from blood samples. I also reviewed medical charts to fill in missing data for risk factors such as antibiotic usage, mode of delivery and diet.  Outside of the lab, I took an RStudio course and shadowed a pediatric gastroenterologist and allergist.

Zollie Yavarow '17

I worked at the Jackson Laboratory in the Trowbridge Lab researching aging in the hematopoietic stem cell system. Hematopoietic differentiation is dysregulated with age and there is an increase in myeloid progenitors and a decrease in lymphoid primed multipotent progenitors (LMPPs). This affliction can lead to an impaired immune response and cancers of the blood. LMPPs have been shown to cycle more rapidly with age, spending less time in the G0 phase of the cell cycle and unable to differentiate. We hypothesized this could be in part due to differential regulation of cell cycle related genes with age. I chose a set of genes that we expected to be differentially expressed based on previous papers and single cell RNA sequencing data from the Trowbridge Lab and ran quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) to determine relative expression. I was able to practice many new experimental techniques: including RNA extraction, reverse transcription, primer design and RT-qPCR and gained experience working with mice. 

I also worked alongside 35 other students in the Summer Student Program at the Jackson Laboratory and learned about many different research areas through their experiences. This experience has helped to clarify my research interests as I prepare to apply to graduate school this fall to study pathology or cancer biology.

Chloe Lopez-Lee '18

I am a neuroscience major and was fortunate enough to spend my second consecutive summer doing a paid research internship at Weill Cornell Medical College. I conducted research with the Dr. Teresa Milner lab, which specializes in women’s health research. This summer, I worked on a project observing the changes within the hippocampus of the brain. We compared mutated mice that produce more anandamide (a chemical that evokes a blissful feeling, which is also produced during marijuana consumption) with those within wild-type mice. 

This project was incredibly beneficial because it further solidified my understanding of what type of research I would like to conduct, perhaps for a PhD. Ultimately, I have been unbelievably fortunate to have spent two summers at Weill Cornell, not only because of the valuable scientific techniques I learned, but also because these experiences significantly impacted my self-development. Without them, I would have no idea what type of research piques my interest or whether I even could spend the rest of my life constantly catering to the research process.

Van Trinh '18 

This summer I was doing research on a protein called alpha-synuclein that is strongly linked to Parkinson’s Disease in a lab at Harvard Medical School. My expectation was to learn lab techniques, conduct experiments and contribute data to research projects, and this is exactly what I got to do, with help from incredibly helpful and knowledgeable people. The people I worked with were probably the best part of this experience. This internship setting was very similar to Mount Holyoke in that it is also a learning environment. In this environment, one needs to be open-minded to learn and be organized to achieve as much as possible. I brought with me my work ethic and open mind from Mount Holyoke, which were probably the key to this enjoyable summer experience.

 The advice I would give those looking for an internship is to start your search early and to be confident in yourself. At the beginning, I was nervous about my ability because I had little research experience. But in the end, I realized that as long as I put in the work, every skill could be learned. The summer experience is a seed that was carefully planted. My remaining task is to nurture it with hard work and hopefully someday reap the fruits of my labors. 

 

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