My Summer Internship: Modeling Cell Movement

juliana-2016 Juliana, Uncategorized, Viterbi Summer Leave a Comment

While the move from rainy Portland, Oregon to sunny Los Angeles, California for school was startling, the move back for the summer has probably been even more of an adjustment. It’s been pretty dreary weather since I got back to the City of Roses (or City of Bridges if you prefer) and I’m definitely missing my LA sunshine!

On the bright side, I’ve been staying really busy and keeping myself distracted. Four days after arriving home, I started my summer internship in a biomedical engineering research lab at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and so far, I love it. A little background: I’ve been doing research all year at USC with Dr. Paul Newton of the Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering department on modeling cell movement through the Viterbi Merit Research program. You can read an interesting summary of some of Dr. Newton’s research here.

Although Dr. Newton is in the AME Department at USC, he works really closely with a team of biomedical engineers and cell biologists at OHSU. When he found out that I was going back to Portland for the summer, Dr. Newton offered to introduce me to his colleague at OHSU. I was really excited about the prospect of continuing my cell modeling research over the summer, and when I was offered a position as a summer intern in a biomedical engineering lab at OHSU, I accepted it immediately.

Although almost everyone else on my team at OHSU does cell biology experiments in the “wet lab,” my mentor and I focus on imaging and modeling cells through various methods – mostly MATLAB and CellProfiler. This summer I’ve already learned how to use a microscope to image slides of cells, and how to use these various modeling methods to obtain physical data about the cells at different time points, such as the aspect ratio. After three weeks of hard work modeling cells, I found out a few days ago that some of the data I obtained will be used in a research paper and I will be listed as a co-author on my first-ever publication! I’ll make sure to post a link to the article when it comes out.

After learning and accomplishing so much in the first couple of weeks at work, I really can’t wait to see where the rest of the summer takes me! Next week I leave for a vacation to Hawaii with my best friend’s awesome family. Needless to say, I’m really exited. Two weeks of relaxing on the beach, swimming, hiking, snorkeling, zip-lining, and enjoying the sunshine I miss so much? Sounds like the perfect break – I can’t wait.

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