Another summer done at the McAllister Lab! My experience at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School was absolutely amazing, and this summer was the best out of all of my previous summers there. This summer, I practiced and learned many wet-lab techniques. Additionally, I participated in multiple journal clubs where members of my lab met to discuss the results of other scientists that do work that is similar to ours. In these journal clubs, we analyzed their results with our lens, and I learned to start questioning the integrity of others’ results alongside my other lab members. I used to accept the data presented by peer-reviewed articles with a sort of blind faith, but I’ve been slowly learning how to question what I read because not all reviewers catch the holes in someone’s research.
After working alone all summer without a direct in-lab mentor, I can say that I am now very comfortable with the idea of planning my own experiments and days at work. With all the results that have been generated from the past and this current summer, I have been creating figures that will be used in our upcoming paper. Some of these figures include growth kinetics charts, incidence graphs, microscopy panels, and concentration graphs. I have also learned how to use CellProfiler, a cell image analysis software that was developed at the Broad Institute. It has been particularly helpful in analyzing the microscopy I have done all summer, and the best part is that I can use it to analyze my results at home even though I’m finished with my experiments now. Dr. McAllister and I have had multiple meetings together about how the paper will be laid out, and we are currently maintaining correspondence about its progress. I also am excited to say that some of my results from the summer were novel, so we are now trying to determine where the data will fit inside the paper. I presented my research to the rest of Brigham and Women’s Division of Hematology last Friday and I am relieved that the presentation went well.
Going forward, I plan to take all the skills that I learned from the McAllister Lab with me as I pursue other research endeavors. I have had the privilege of developing an in-depth understanding of research academia through this internship, and I believe that this understanding will be particularly useful in the fall semester when I start as an undergraduate research assistant at one of Brandeis’ neuroscience labs. I think for next summer, it would be interesting to try to find an internship in the field of industry, perhaps at a biotechnology company to see what it’s like to be on the for-profit side of biology instead of the non-profit side. For anyone who is interested in pursuing an internship in research academia, I would first suggest finding a special program for students that put them in mentored research environments. Many colleges and hospitals around the country have these summer research internships, and it is during these summers that students can form long-lasting career networks. After being in a research environment for a whole summer, there is a high possibility of returning for another summer if correspondence is maintained. For researching specifically under the Harvard Medical School umbrella of summer programs, this is a great resource. The program I was originally in (for the first two summers) was the CURE Program of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
Overall, I had a wonderful summer. On our last day, Dr. McAllister participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with me and some of our other summer students. We all went out with a “splash” and it was a fun experience! Here is the link to our video: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: McAllister Lab
Irene Wong, ’17