Donovan Inniss worked as a neuroscience undergraduate student researcher at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the summer of 2016. Donovan was part of the Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP).
During the internship, I was given a project under the instruction of my principal investigator (Lab PI). This was a research project dealing with a protein that was much understudied. My job, then, was to map out the expression levels of this protein throughout the body. To do this, I ran tests on mice that served as analogs to show how expression of the protein may have varied. It was my responsibility to dissect the brain and body of these mice, prepare their tissues, run Western Blots (a form of protein expression measurement) on the tissues and then compare these blots to antibody "fluorescent imaging" in order to map out the expression of the protein in the mouse tissue. I had to take vigorous notes, and provide step-by-step processes of what I did. This was all in hopes of producing a map that could potentially give trends in how the protein is expressed within the body.
CSB/SJU provided me with critical lab skills, terminology and prowess within the lab environment. Because I was able to work as both chemistry and biology lab teaching assistants at CSB/SJU, I was quite comfortable with all the apparatus, instruments and chemicals being used in my lab this summer. Moreover, many of the classes that I have taken so far have given me a greater perspective and allowed me to think critically during my internship. Lastly, interacting with so many different cultures at CSB/SJU allowed me to be more sociable and understanding to those of different backgrounds and temperaments during my internship this summer.
A major challenge in carrying out research is actually being able to get good results. Despite any prior lab skill, there are so many variables that could cause an experiment to go awry: lack of materials, malfunctioning instruments or simply personal pressures. It is up to the researcher to realize that things just happen, and life moves on. It took me a while to realize this, but I soon learned that there was no use crying over spilt milk. To overcome this challenge, I simply kept at it, doing my best and hoping for great results.
My favorite memories always involved the other students in my internship, whether it was staying up late at night in the dorms (all 76 of us lived on the same floor) and talking about how different our worlds were or exploring Minneapolis throughout the week. My program also treated us to Lake Itasca for orientation, and that was a weekend like no other! Getting away from the city, kayaking on the lake, hiking to the headwaters, participating in talent shows, chilling with everyone else and waking up to a beautiful sunrise were just a few of the things that made my research experience all the more memorable.
Apply to a lot of internships! It isn't guaranteed that you're going to get into the one you want — they're very competitive. If you apply for an internship, make sure it is something that you love doing; otherwise you may not enjoy the experience! Familiarize yourself with all of the program specifics to see if there are things to do in that city or with the people from your program — you wouldn't want to spend an entire summer stuck in the same position. Keep an open mind and try to have fun.
I hope to either go straight to medical school or take a gap year to Colombia before enrolling in medical school.
Take life one step at a time.