Reviving Research

As much as it pains me to say it, I am graduating this spring.  Prior to this summer, I was still deciding exactly what I wanted to do upon entering the ‘real world.’  While I knew I wanted to stay in the field of science, I wasn’t sure if I had the stamina to have a lifetime career in research.  By spending my summer as a full-time researcher, this internship has truly helped me to pinpoint that this is what I want to do following graduation.

I have now been working in Dr. Thomas Seyfried’s lab for just over a year. Throughout my time here, I have been a part of a diverse array of experiments.  I have independently preformed brain surgery on mice and implemented specific diet/drug regimens to explore possible treatment options against glioblastoma brain cancer.  Additionally, this summer, I was able to learn the process of lipid isolation in order to obtain the ganglioside content of brain samples in our Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s studies.  Although our lab has many different areas of research, I now truly understand the importance of communication, collaboration and camaraderie throughout the entire lab.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given and all of the things I have learned at this lab.  Not only has working here taught me many different lab techniques and procedures, but it has also taught me the importance of research as a field.  Research is a vital part of medicine that is often overlooked; every drug that humans take, from chemotherapy to Advil, has been tested on animals before being tested directly on humans.  Furthermore, the conclusions that are drawn from these experiments help to create medication that veterinarians prescribe for animal diseases, as well.

Many people dislike change because they fear the unknown; however, this is the very reason why I love science.  Science is always changing.  New research is published every day describing new metabolic pathways and recently discovered genome sequences.  Although the publicity behind these findings makes research seem like a very fast-paced and exciting field, the biggest lesson I learned this summer is that research is actually a very tedious and slow process.  When planning an experiment, you never know what your results are going to show.  You can obtain results that prove your hypothesis, disprove your hypothesis, or lead to an entirely new hypothesis.  In a single researcher’s career, they might be lucky enough to have a handful of major findings.  While this may seem like a boring and tedious lifestyle, it is one that I aspire to have.

Written by Shelby Smith, BC Class of 2017

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The ‘C’ Word

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I can almost guarantee that every single person reading this post knows someone who has, or had, cancer. This summer, I am interning in the lab of Dr. Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., a Biology professor at Boston College who researches cancer as a metabolic disease.  We study the biochemical pathways involved in the metabolism of cancer in order to understand how certain diet restrictions and drug combinations can fight the disease’s progression.  Ideally, our research will lead to new treatment options that are less poisonous and intrusive to the human body than chemotherapy or radiation, and with fewer side effects.

As the first two weeks of my internship come to a close, I feel extremely prepared for what lies ahead, thanks to the courses I have taken so far at BC. The lab techniques that I will use on a daily basis were first introduced to me in a class that I took last year, called Investigations to Molecular Cell Biology. The procedures that once seemed so foreign to me are now ingrained in my brain as second nature and I am ready to translate the knowledge that I learned in class into real-life application.

Dr. Seyfried is one of the leading scientists pioneering the research of cancer metabolism, an innovative field that has recently gained a lot of public support. Being at the forefront of a scientific revolution is an experience I will deeply cherish.  Moreover, I have the privilege of being able to work in the comfort of my home-away-from-home: Higgins Hall. This allows me connect with undergraduate researchers, graduate students, and even professors from other labs on campus, and learn new topics and techniques while making friends and professional connections in the process.

Written by Shelby Smith, BC Class of 2017