This summer we’re sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to our Instagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences.
Charlotte Hayward is a Santa Barbara High School student who is doing a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Tod Kippin at the University of California, Santa Barbara
In the last six weeks I have come to realize that I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity. This program caught my attention as soon as I heard about it. I mean, how many opportunities do high school students have to do innovative and groundbreaking research? Well, in case you are unaware, not very many. Just the thought of doing stem cell research during my free time this summer sounded like a dream, but after having experienced it I can truly say it exceeded my expectations.
My project focused on studying how stress on expectant mothers later affects the neural stem cell system and behavior of their offspring. We primarily worked with rats in conducting our research, and let me tell you that was the biggest learning experience of all.
On the first day I was a little apprehensive of conducting animal research, however after experiencing it firsthand and discovering the significance of my project, I have an entirely new view of it. Each day was entirely new and exciting, I felt continuously interested and challenged. On a day to day basis you could find me doing anything from running locomotor activity tests to doing profusions.
Everyday I walked into the lab, slipped on my black nitrile gloves, and got to work. Time flew by and before I knew it the day was done, and I would go home thinking about the exciting things to come the next day.
The people in my lab were so fun and refreshing to be around and I could tell they were really passionate about what they were doing. It was wonderful to see people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to research.
In conclusion I would like to tell you a story about one night during the first week of my research. I walked into the house tired but stimulated by all the work I had done and said to my dad, “I got some brain matter on my face today!”. Of course my dad thought I was crazy, but I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever done. I was experiencing things entirely new and so exciting to me, and that is the most valuable thing I could ever ask for. This program offered me more than I had ever imagined and made me even more excited about all the academic opportunities still ahead of me.
Charlotte sent us this video of her experience: