All good things must come to an end, at least now I can wear my sandals

Have you ever wondered if the effects of blindness could be reversed?
This summer I worked on a biomimetic device to restore vision to the blind. Yes, that was my project. The minute I realized what it was we were working on, I thought it was the coolest thing to be a part of. Not only was I able to see how research like this is done in a lab, or talk to the master mind behind this plan, but I was able to be apart of this amazing research project. So here is my project summed up into a few sentences. They are going to build an interface (which is kind of like a chip) that will be implanted behind the retina (back of the eye). It will basically mimic a biological channel in the eye that plays a key role in vision. The way vision will be restored to the blind is by using potassium ions that are already found in the fluid within the eye. Yup, that was the project I worked on for 8 weeks. Pretty cool, huh?
Comparing the first day I walked into the lab and now, I would say this was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The first day I was not only intimidated,  I was scared, but that faded away real fast. Everyone in my lab is super nice and my mentor is probably the most patient person I have met yet. He made my time here a lot easier because if I did not understand something he would clarify it for me, even if I made him explain it in 10 different ways, he didn’t show frustration. on a side note, one of the things I had to give up this summer to work in the lab was sandals, shorts, dresses, anything that made our legs vulnerable to spills was cut out of my wardrobe. I am a barefoot, sandals kind of girl so, yes, that was the hardest thing I had to do this summer! On the Brightside, I finally learned how to walk in sneakers. I learned a lot in my short 8 weeks here as an intern. The internship had us do these workshops, which may seem silly at first, but in reality they helped out a lot. Also, the presentation we had to give is a lot of work, but I improved in my presentation skills dramatically so it was worth every ounce of stress. Now I know how to give a scientific presentation, and take something complicated, my project, and make is as simple as possible so people who know nothing about the science aspect can understand it. This internship helps shape you in different ways. Not only are you here doing research, but you are also doing other things on the side. The other good thing about this internship is I got to live on campus and that was AWESOME! All the interns were a blast too. I definitely have many memories with them. This was definitely one of the best summers I have had so far.

My First Research Experience

When I was first offered this internship I was beyond ecstatic, I could not believe I was given an opportunity to do hands on research in the lab. A few weeks before the internship began, my soon to be mentor sent me a few articles to read so I was up to speed with the whole project. After the first paragraph of one of the articles I was already intimidated. I have never read anything so scientific, nor anything that went into such detail about nanopores. There was a lot of phrases that I did not understand and words that I could not pronounce. Now I was beginning to think that I was way in over my head. Luckily, on my first day, we were told that we are here to merely learn and that we are not expected to know everything. Then, I met my mentor. I was still nervous and very intimidated from the articles I read and the description he provided on what we would be doing. Also, my mentor is a post-doc researcher, meaning he already has his PhD and that was another intimidating factor because I was thinking I would not communicate with him well. However, my mentor happens to be an awesome person. He converted everything into a language that I could understand, walked me through everything multiple times, and still does just so I could understand what was going on. My intimidation was no longer there.

The first week was rough because it was so much information you had to try to process. On top of that I met my faculty advisor for the first time. This man is not only a PhD graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T), but he holds four patents from Intel. It was rather intimidating listening to him and my mentor talk about the project. The next two weeks were a lot easier. I learned how the lab runs, how to run tests, how to put together the conductivity cell, how to make certain solutions that we needed, and a lot of other things. The one thing that I do know for a fact is, I still have a lot more things to learn. My project is to help create a biomimetic device to restore lost vision to the blind. When I first realized what my project was based on, I though it was an amazing idea. In this device you need a membrane that is selective to a specific ion in order for the whole device to work successfully. That is what I am focusing on this summer. I am trying to help my mentor create a Potassium (K+) selective ion channel within a membrane. I will get into more detail on what it is I did this summer in my next blog.