If the title didn’t give it away, my last few days have been filled with many different things. Let’s start with envelopes. As I mentioned in my last blog post, envelope stuffing is the action of the day during our weekly meetings here in the Teen Resilience Lab. Without fail, us four girls print, fold, and stuff 100 flyers into 100 envelopes to send into the community. Going off my past experience in other labs, it’s interesting to see how two labs with different aims, geographical locations, and target age ranges implement different ways of recruiting participants. Small learning experiences such as this are what will influence my future lab experiences.
Another small learning experience, but again a very useful one, is my use of GoogleVoice. I’ve never used this app before, but it’s really simple and convenient to use for a operation like ours here at TRL. I’ve been put in charge of screening participants that call and show interest in participating. I’ve learned how to efficiently use GoogleVoice to reach out to everyone and go through the screening questions. My previous lab experience at Michigan has definitely helped me with the screening process. The concept of research can be really daunting and questionable for some people, so it’s important to make sure you relay all information to potential participants in a clear and understandable way. In my labs at Michigan, I ran studies with children, so I gained some experience translating tough concepts into easier ideas. Similarly, the TRL project is sensitive in that it requires blood samples from teenagers and lasts 4 hours long– two of the components of this lab that may put off parents or teens from participating. However, I’ve been able to efficiently answer any questions and converse with interested parties enough to schedule everyone who has called and showed interest in our study so far.
Lastly, we come across the microglia. During our weekly lab meetings, Dr. Kuhlman assigns us an article to read and discuss. Lately, she’s been really interested in microglia and their role in immune reactions inside the brain. Surprisingly (to me), the hyperactivity of these microglia have been found in some cases to lead to depressive symptoms! This is a really new concept, but Dr. Kuhlman wants to start brainstorming potential study designs to look into these processes more. Our weekly discussions are another thing I’ve really been loving during my internship here. Not only am I learning more about how a research lab functions and the day to day workings of its system, but I’m also learning more about a field I’m really interested in, and I’ve been given the opportunity to express my opinions to help form a future study. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can from every situation I’ve been in, because I know these are the experiences and processes I need to go through when I one day start running my own studies in undergraduate and graduate school.
Completely unrelated to work, I’ve really been enjoying living in California. I was drawn to lab work here because I’ve been in love with the state since I starting visiting family as a little girl. So many different landscapes can be
found in California, each offering their own unique beautiful characteristics. (Here’s a little look into my backyard.) Additionally, there are some really great educational institutions out here, so I can definitely see myself pursuing a graduate program here on the west coast.