Class Year: 2017
Internship Placement: Biomedical Engineering department of Boston University.
What’s happening! We’d love to hear about how your internship is going.
This summer, I’ve been working in the Han Lab in the Biomedical Engineering department of Boston University. I’m working closely with a graduate student, investigating the integration of transplanted neural stem cells into the mouse somatosensory cortex. In order to evaluate the effects of the transplant, I learned to use calcium imaging to look at the brain of live mice, and I also worked with a novel technique known as expansion microscopy (ExM). In this technique, slices of the mouse brain are bathed in a polymer that expands when immersed in water, expanding the tissue to around four times its size in each dimension. This allows for the inspection of the neural network and synaptic connections in the brain in a higher resolution than is typically possible with conventional microscopes.
Over the course of the summer, I’ve gained experience in a variety of areas. Not only have I learned about the process of using certain antibodies to stain proteins with a fluorescent dye (allowing these proteins to be examined and mapped under a microscope), but I’ve also had the unique experience of helping to design and create an imaging window to look at the mouse brain in vivo, using the tools available at Boston University’s Engineering Project Innovation Center (EPIC). Throughout this time, I’ve also had a valuable glimpse into what life is like as a graduate student or postdoc doing research in this program, an experience that will guide my choices as I consider my future options.
How I heard about my internship:
Over fall break in 2014, I was staying in Boston, and during that time I visited the Han Lab to learn about the techniques that they were working with. While Professor Han was showing me around, she offered me the chance to work in the lab over the summer, and here we are!
Why I applied for my internship:
Though I am a psychology major, I’ve always been drawn in particular to neuroscience, as a sort of intersection between biology and psychology. The members of the Han Lab work on a variety of different projects, but essentially they all share the goal of learning more about the brain and its processes. Further, the lab has developed or is implementing a number of interesting new techniques for looking at and controlling the brain, and I hoped to learn more about these techniques through my own work and the work of my colleagues.
Additionally, I am currently evaluating the merits of a career in research, and I hoped to experience the day-to-day life of an individual involved in research through this internship. While the experience I had in my lab is not necessarily the experience I would have had in another lab, I do think that, by seeing a number of people engaged in various types of research, I have sampled a broad variety of experiences. This internship has allowed me to imagine a future as a researcher in a way that I could not prior to working in the Han Lab.