By Hallie Gordon
Students in the Authentic Science Research program eagerly wait for the summer of their junior year when they get to apply their knowledge to a real lab setting! In past summers, students spent their time observing cells under microscopes, mixing chemical solutions, or even building their own robots.
Byram Hills alumna Alex Remnitz recalls her summer study at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. This experience was vital to furthering her knowledge on the effects of CO2 levels on behavioral lateralization and scototaxis on the fish the Sailfin Molly, and she even worked there the summer after. Alex explains how she “loved getting to have a hands-on experience, and it was definitely influential to [her] research.” She even worked 12 hours a day in the lab because she enjoyed it so much. As someone who continues to do research online this year, she emphasizes the fact that it is certainly not the same as her in-person experiences. So how are current juniors adapting to the challenges of the pandemic while still aiming to get that same meaningful experience?
Dylan Haber is looking forward to his research at the University of Virginia. He is participating in a program called UVA Advance where he can take classes and also complete research as an elective. “I will be studying the use of electrical nerve stimulation and optogenetic (using light) nerve stimulation to treat inflammation in the lungs.” He finds his future research particularly interesting because it could be a potential treatment for COVID-19 because COVID-19 is mainly lung inflammation.
Morgan Aronsky, who is studying the life cycle of immortal jellyfish shares, “My plans for science research have not been affected yet and as of now we are planning for me to hopefully be able to come into the lab and carry out the study for a few weeks.” While Morgan is hopeful to do her research in person, she has created an alternate plan with her mentor where the data would be transferred from the lab, allowing her to analyze it from home using special software.
Like Morgan, Alex Berkman remains confident that he will be able to complete his study on virus entry in person, but he has worked with his mentor to develop a contingency plan. Alex states, “My original plan was to go perform my study at UMASS Amherst Medical School. Based on the success of the vaccine and its distribution, I expect and hope to still be able to carry out this plan.”
While the challenges of the coronavirus may prevent juniors from getting the impactful in-lab experience, they will continue to persevere through the challenges of the pandemic and make the most of their studies!