Through their lens: Dustin Nguyen finds independence in the lab

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.

Dustin Nguyen worked in the lab of Jiang Zhu at Scripps Research Institute

Dustin Nguyen looking as cells under a microscope. He submitted this photo through Instagram to CIRM’s #CIRMStemCellLab collection.

My name is Dustin Nguyen and I intern at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. I am in Dr. Jiang Zhu’s lab and there are currently only two weeks left of the internship. I am not happy that it is ending, but I appreciate the great opportunity to spend my summer here.

I really learned a lot from this experience. What I enjoyed the most was getting to do lab procedures by myself. Although my mentor watched over me while I did everything, there were some times when I was able to do things by myself. I felt very independent; however, I was still scared that I would mess up. But the feeling of not messing up when I did something by myself was what made me feel proud. For example, my mentor trusted me to prepare bacteria culture and I was able to follow all the lab procedures and proper lab techniques to do so. If I messed up in any step, then my mentor would lose trust in me and not let me do stuff by myself anymore.

What I found challenging was memorizing procedures. There are a lot of different procedures, so when I memorize them I sometimes get them mixed up. For example, there were two types of bacteria medium that I made. The ingredients for each of them are different, but they both turn the same color once the ingredients dissolve. I have to write down the ingredients for each medium so I do not mistaken one for the other.

Lastly, my mom thinks this is a great opportunity for me. I never did anything academic in my past summers so my mom was really proud that I tried so hard to get into this internship position. It is a great place to occupy my time so that I don’t just stay home and do nothing. She was also proud that I found a subject of interest for myself and I am determined to stay in science when I go to college.

Dustin Nguyen

Dustin submitted this video about his experience:

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