My five semesters as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland studying Neurobiology & Physiology has provided me the opportunity to work in a variety of laboratory and research settings. My experiences have allowed me to build on laboratory basics such as using a centrifuge, fractional distillation, using a separatory funnel for liquid-liquid extractions, and other laboratory techniques. I have had the opportunity to use several different protein separation methods such as salting out, gel electrophoresis, and Western blotting to determine protein concentration and function. These methods and techniques provided me with the tools to be able to move on to more advanced research settings.
One of the experiments with which I was involved allowed me to work as part of a research team. This experiment explored the effect of Etoposide on HL60 cell apoptosis to determine if the drug used an intrinsic or extrinsic pathway. Prior to conduct of the experiment, I researched the topics of cell apoptosis, HL60 cells, and leukemia to gain an understanding of the research that has been conducted on those topics to this point. This research was presented to the group, which then worked together to develop a hypothesis for testing. The team then developed an experimental procedure to determine if the hypothesis was correct. My role was as part of a team member in the presentation and development of the experimental procedure. The laboratory procedure developed allowed the direct measurement of cytochrome C in the cytosol and membrane at different concentrations of the drug. The number of cells that were apoptotic or necrotic, as opposed to functioning, was used to determine if the hypothesis regarding whether the pathway was intrinsic or extrinsic was correct.

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My research experience also includes participation as part of a team member in the Skin Micro Biome Research project. As part of this team, my role is as a researcher and information gatherer. I work under the supervision of the team leader who assigns various topics to be researched by the team members. My role involves using Bergey’s Manual and other academic sources to discover information about the assigned topics. I must present the research gathered by my team leader in a format that best represents the information gathered in an organized and concise manner. Participation in this project has allowed me to become more familiar with the various sources of information in the research community, as well as how to format information in a manner that is easy to understand. It provides me the ability to hone my research and technical writing skills.

These research opportunities have allowed me to begin with the basics, and then to apply them to real-world research questions and problems. Working as part of a team to discover the mechanism by which a drug effects cells has provided me with an introduction into the clinical research process. I will be able to apply this methodology and thought process to solve any number of research problems in the future. The ability to work under a team leader as part of a larger research project also allows me the ability to understand the processes involved in larger scale research projects. It also gives me insight as to how to manage larger projects that I might lead in the future.

The ability to work as part of a team of researchers allowed the ability to hone individual skills and to learn how to assemble these parts as part of something larger. These abilities provide the opportunity to expand my individual skills and knowledge, as well as to interface with others to see how thought processes and ideas differ. My experiences have allowed me the ability to examine my own ideas and to see how they fit into larger research structures and processes.