Through their lens: Hannah Dokter says science can be repetitive and unsuccessful, but the end result is worth it

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. 

Hannah Dokter feeding cells that she was passaging. She submitted this photo through Instagram to CIRM’s #CIRMStemCellLab collection

Hello CIRM! My name is Hannah Dokter and this year I will be a junior attending Sheldon High School. To start off, I’d like to thank Dr. Nolta and Dr. Bauer for having me in their fantastic program. I’d also like to thank Ahmad and Ben for helping me out in the lab and teaching me everything I know about hESCs. Last and certainly not least, I’d like to thank my wonderful teacher Mr. Brennan for inspiring me to achieve such a goal as this internship.

In the beginning of my internship I filled up so many 384-well qPCR plates and extracted so much RNA I thought I was going to lose my mind. I got a lot of results from different assays I would do for my mentors, but I never really got explanations on what it was all for. Nevertheless, I was enjoying myself and getting a hands-on experience with science.

Recently I asked for more work that could become a poster for the upcoming Creativity poster session. It will be surrounding the change of demethylase expression during the induction of human embryonic stem cells into the definitive endoderm stage. I have also been tagging along on some of the xeno-free/feeder-free projects they have going on here in this lab. I finally got into the hood and into cell culture and I can now say that at the age of a high school student, I could successfully grow and maintain human embryonic stem cells. I currently have two plates of H9 cells on MEFs, four different xeno-free/feeder-free type plates, and two definitive endoderm plates under my watch and care. I feel like I am learning so much and I am SO grateful for having this opportunity. It has truly been a wonderful experience.

I would love to pursue a career similar to what I have witnessed here in this lab. Working with stem cells has been so rewarding and to do it for a living sounds like an awesome way to make a living. Science is so much fun and while research can be repetitive and sometimes unsuccessful, the experiences and knowledge you gain during the experiments is definitely worth it. They always say to try and do something that can not only make you happy but keep you happy; I certainly think science and stem cell research does it for me.

Hannah Doktor

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