Biochemistry major and Division I athlete writes about her externship with Alyssa Picchini ’04, a doctoral candidate at Columbia University in New York City
This experience was very beneficial for me because I am hoping to go to graduate school next year to focus on biomedical research. The externship gave me a really good idea of what it was like to be a graduate student on a day-to-day basis. It was also very useful to talk to other Columbia graduate students in programs similar to ones I am applying to.
I spent a lot of time with Alyssa doing hands-on lab work, including immunohistochemistry, a technique that uses antibodies to locate proteins in the cells of a tissue and is used mainly in diagnosing abnormal cells such as cancerous tumors. I learned how to use several different laboratory instruments including a cryostat (equipment that maintains cold temperatures). I also learned how a mouse model system is used and how the mice are maintained.
Being a fairly recent Lafayette graduate, Alyssa was easy to talk to and could explain things at a very basic level since I’d had no previous experience in neurobiology. I had the opportunity to attend lectures about neurogenesis and stem cell research and was able to sit in on an upper level graduate course about neural behavior and disease.
Overall, it was an excellent opportunity and I’m glad that the Career Services Office decided to add graduate and professional school options to the externship program.