Through their lens: Mikaela Esquivel worked on a project to improve wound healing

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.

Mikaela Esquivel did a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Peter Lorenz at Stanford University.

Mikaela Esquivel submitted this photo to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed.

Collaboration. This is one of the things that stood out to me the most during my internship. I came into the program with a misconception that researchers were very cut throat and were more focused on their individual projects than helping each other. Almost immediately, I realized how very wrong I was. Different people in the lab have expertise in different areas so the brain storming of questions and ideas are ongoing. This, I think is what makes the lab so successful. Instead of one person reinventing the wheel every time, it is a team effort to draw on the vast cumulative knowledge and to continually challenge each other. However, collaborating as part of a research team can also put more pressure on each individual member since the results of their work can affect other researcher’s work. One of the biggest challenges was managing time. It always seemed to be running out! Whether it was a long procedure, or new ideas that lead to new experiments, there was so much going on all the time!

Before I started the program, I had been considering doing medical research because I thought it would be the best way to impact the most people. With one week left in my internship, I now know what actually doing research entails, and I am certain that I want to pursue it as a career. During my time in Dr. Lorenz’s lab at Stanford, my project focused on trying to determine the best method for delivering adipose-derived stem cells that would achieve the best wound healing. But I also had the opportunity to collaborate in other projects my mentor, Dr. Michael Hu, was working on. This worked out really well for me as I was able to learn more techniques than if I had simply worked only on my specific project. It exposed me and was able to learn a breadth of different protocols including cell culture and animal work. As the weeks passed and I spent more time in lab, I became more confident and independent and got to really enjoy my work and the people I worked with. These past weeks have been great… they have given me a closer look at what my life as a medical researcher would be like. Overall, my experience this summer has been amazing and has really helped me decide that I want to have a future is medical research, especially in the field of stem cells. I find this an intriguing area with so much that is still unknown and can’t wait to help demystify it.

Mikaela Esquivel

Mikaela submitted these videos about her experience: