I spent a good portion of my summer in the lab of Dr. Timothy Cope, Chair of the Neuroscience at Wright State University. During my time in the lab, I was able to shadow two PhD candidates working on their own research which involved using in vivo rat and cat models to characterized the neuronal response implicated in peripheral nerve damage. I observed numerous rodent surgeries in which they isolated the medial gastroc (a large muscle in the calf), attached it to a motor stimulus, performed a laminectomy and inserted an electrode to record the response to the mechanical stimulus in the spine. During this process, I recorded the rodent vitals and performed data analysis. They focused mainly on the physiological response of the system in vary conditions (i.e. drugs etc.) while the lab of Dr. David Ladle, also at Wright State University, focused on characterizing the development of neural pathways in the spine. I was also able to shadow the researchers in this lab, which worked with fetal mice. Through stereotaxic surgery, this lab isolated the spinal nerves of the mice and recorded its electrical potentials. I was also able to attend a PhD candidate's oral defense and the Miami Valley Society for Neuroscience Graduate Research Symposium, where I was exposed to a lot of new research and had the opportunity to sit in on many seminars, as well as eat lunch with the keynote speaker, Dr. Leslie Tolbert. Even though this experience was unpaid, it was definitely valuable and informed my future career options. I am especially grateful for the exposure to a aspect of Neuroscience that ordinarily, I never would have seen.
I did my summer research at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI. I worked in the Department of Physiology under Dr. Hubert Forster. The research I participated in was a combination of neuroscience and physiology, looking at the effects of inhibitory neurochemicals at a nucleus in the medulla presumed to be responsible for respiratory rhythm generation. Goats were the animal model of choice, which was an interesting experience in and of itself, and because we were looking at respiration during both awake and sleep states, I often helped out with night studies. I would go into the lab around 7 P.M. and usually left around 2 A.M. Some of my responsibilities during my research experience included assisting in data analysis, scoring EEG traces for awake and sleep states, setting up equipment for studies, and analyzing blood samples.
Overall, I very much enjoyed my summer research experience, and from it I gained a wealth of valuable knowledge and lab skills. The most valuable aspect of my experience might have been that it certainly opened my eyes to how much more there is to research than just science and discovery. I had a naïve and idealistic view of research going into the program, and I came out of it with an entirely different perspective. My summer research experience was an invaluable one, and I strongly encourage anyone interested in research to find an opportunity to do it.
Areas of Study
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