Biochemistry & molecular biology major gains research experience through APEX Fellowship


As an undergraduate researcher, Kayla Bertholf ’22 studied insulin receptors in fruit flies at Michigan State University. While conducting this research in the Arnosti Laboratory, Bertholf applied the molecular biology skills she gained through her experience at The College of Wooster. Alongside her research, she also helped educate local children on various science topics every week.


“My summer experience has confirmed my interest in doing research and working with people of a variety of ages and skill levels as a professor.” —Kayla Bertholf


How did you learn about the internship opportunity for your APEX Fellowship? Why was the position a good fit for you? 

“I learned about Dr. Arnosti’s work through networking and his seminar at Wooster my freshmen year. His work seemed interesting, and I lived and ran cross-country with his daughter, so when looking for potential internships I reached out via email to learn more about his work. I was interested when I found out his research project was different from Wooster’s and would allow me to gain new experiences yet was similar enough to the classes I had taken that I felt confident I could help his research team.”


What interests you most about the work you did? What were some of the things you did each day? 

“There are so many potential applications of the work being done in the Arnosti lab. The genes and processes being studied are relevant in a variety of human diseases, such as cancer and cleft pallet. I enjoyed being able to learn about other research projects going on at MSU and around the world through seminars and discussing papers with other lab members. Daily, I worked with flies pre-forming in lab research, collaborated on projects with other lab members, and joined other undergraduate and graduate students on weekends to teach local children about different scientific topics through biochemistry in a community program.”


Who was your Fellowship mentor and how did they help you to succeed in this position? 

“My fellowship mentor was Professor Grit Herzmann [associate professor of psychology and department chair of neuroscience]. She was very encouraging throughout the process and helped me build the confidence I needed to feel that I deserved this position and belonged in the lab.”


What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward into your career? 

“I gained confidence and independence in research, planning and time management skills, the ability to explain the same difficult concepts to individuals with all levels of background knowledge, from children to professionals in the field.”


How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you? 

“My summer experience has confirmed my interest in doing research and working with people of a variety of ages and skill levels as a professor. I also found interesting projects and a school that I would like to apply to for my graduate studies.”

Posted in Experiential Learning on November 5, 2021.