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.
Ami Thakrar did a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Joel Rothman at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
|Thakrar working in the lab. She submitted this photo to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed.|
Today was officially last day of my summer internship. It feels like the time has gone by too quickly! I’m fairly certain that I’ll be experiencing “lab withdrawals” soon; I’ve honestly spent more time in the lab these past few weeks than I have at home. But I’ve liked it. No, I’ve loved it!
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to work in the Rothman lab at UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara) studying embryogenesis in the nematode C. elegans. Before I began this summer internship, I did not have much knowledge about working in a research laboratory. When I first started working in the lab, my mentor supervised my lab partner and I very closely (for good reason), often having to interject with a “don’t forget to sanitize the tip of your pipet!” or a “make sure your samples are in the correct incubator!” However, I would say that by my second or third week in the lab, I had reached a high level of proficiency in the procedures of my experiment, which was quite exciting for me. I do not know very many other high school students, besides my fellow CIRM-intern peers, of course, that can say that they’ve worked in, let alone have become comfortable in, a real laboratory environment.
Additionally, it was amazing for me to actually get to have the chance to actually apply all of the knowledge that I had learned in my biology classes. In high school, it often feels like answers are spoon-fed to students, who then regurgitate the information for a test, and proceed to forget it immediately after setting foot outside of the classroom. In research, however, this is definitely not the case. We had to utilize critical thinking skills to analyze data and arrive at our own conclusions. It was scary, but at the same time exciting, knowing that there was no answer-key with which to check our work like there would be in a typical high school setting.
Overall, my experience in the lab over these past five weeks has made it clear that a career in science, specifically biological research, is the path for me. I think it would be safe to say that spending my summer as a CIRM-funded intern was one of, if not the most, enriching high school experiences I have ever had, and it opened my eyes to all of the different possibilities that exist in scientific research.
Ami sent us these videos of her experience