University of Utah Summer Research Internship
The University of Utah Summer Research Program, in its 4th year running, had another amazing group of students participate with the internship this summer. The internship is coordinated with the Pharmacology Department at the University of Utah and is run by former Waterford parent and chair of the Pharmacology Department Karen Wilcox, along with professor William Crowley.
This incredible opportunity allows our students to be directly involved in high-level research in an academic lab. While the students do not choose their own projects, they are given some choice into whose lab they join. We have had students work on projects from mouse behavioral studies for epilepsy, screening drug sensitivities of cancer cell lines, to mining various fungi and bacteria for natural products of medicinal use. This list is not even close to exhaustive!
The students work closely with the head professor of the lab or a post-doc or graduate student. They are hands-on all summer for eight weeks. The experience culminates in a presentation to faculty of the University of Utah, Waterford faculty and staff, and friends and family. These are professional presentations that are very similar to what you would see at a scientific conference. While eight weeks is not a long time in science research, the students are often able to put together a coherent presentation displaying their work over the course of the summer.
To select students, we put out a call to rising seniors during spring term. We typically have 4-5 slots available, and after receiving their applications, Harmony Button, our Academic Dean, and I invite them in for interviews. While we assess the whole candidate, we look particularly for students who are passionate and excited about science, who will also represent the school well in a professional lab setting.
Sending students into an academic lab to do cutting-edge research is a monumental challenge. The students only know the basics of some sciences and are being thrown into a lab experience that studies science at the highest level. It is a huge transition for the students, and the growth I see in them over the summer is indescribable. To help them with this transition, I act as the mentor-behind-the-scenes. I'm available for conflict resolution, answering any questions they have, and am just an overall go-to person for anything they might need. I meet with them a few times a month while they are in the internship and we often converse on how they are adjusting, or they tell me what they have been doing in the lab.
We are so proud of our 4 students who participated this year:
Paige Anderson on the “The Versatility of Antibodies in Conjugate Systems”
Mentor: Dr. Shawn Owen of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Eliza Huefner on the “Attenuated Synaptic Plasticity in the IAK Model of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy is due to Saturation of LTP at the Perforant Path-Dentate Gyrus Synapse”
Mentor: Dr. Peter West of Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program
Jihu Lee on the "Characterization of the Marble Burying Task: A Mouse Model of Repetitive & Perseverative Behavior”
Mentor: Dr. Misty Smith of Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program
R.J. Shreeve on the “Developing Microorganisms for Drug Discovery”
Mentor: Dr. Jaclyn Winter of Medicinal Chemistry