I am working as a volunteer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a non-profit research and educational institution established in the 19th century and based on Long Island. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s current projects include finding cures to cancer and neurological disorders, and the lab is well known for scientists James Watson and Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA. I will be working with Dr. Gholson Lyon in his laboratory. Dr. Lyon is an established molecular biologist and geneticist, credited for identifying Ogden Syndrome and studying N-linked protein acetylation and using genetic mapping to coin various other syndromes.
I usually start my day around 9:30, and spend the morning reading papers about Dr. Lyon’s work and related projects, and observe Dr. Lyon or his technician as they work, while they teach me what they are doing and why. In the afternoons, I usually attend to the mouse histology work that Dr. Lyon has assigned me. These responsibilities include skeletal staining, microscopy, and taking measurements and compiling the data. I will also assist the lab technician with his work, which includes a lot of pipetting!
I found my internship by looking at the research projects being done at Cold Spring Harbor on their website. I found what Dr. Lyon was doing to be of particular interest to me, so I emailed him asking if he would need assistance during the summer months. After speaking on the phone and meeting over spring break, he spoke with HR and I was approved.
I was very nervous in my first week, because I had never worked in a lab before. I was worried I didn’t have enough experience, or that I would make a mistake. My lack of experience means that I am learning a lot, and anything I don’t know I am able to look up, read about, or ask about if necessary. To prevent errors, I’m learning to be more thorough and proactive. I had to attend a lot of trainings, but these were all beneficial to me and clarified a lot of the questions and concerns that I had.
This summer, I will be learning a lot about Dr. Lyon’s work, genetics, and mice and mouse histology. By the conclusion of this internship and the end of the summer, I know I will be much more self-actualized. I will be able to discover where my research interests lie, my strengths and weaknesses, and whether I would like to pursue a Ph.D after getting a taste of what a career in science research looks like.