Summer Research: Trips, Lab Family, and Fun!

Scientific Lab Cousins
Scientific Lab Cousins

I have neglected to tell you about my fabulous summer right here in Holland, Michigan. As a third year researcher at Hope, this summer was my ultimate time to grow in the lab. I was blessed to receive the Wolterink Prize in Biology in the Spring of 2013 for an upperclassman student that shows promise in research, funding me for a summer research position here at Hope. I had already applied to do research with Dr. Fraley (my lab mentor) for the summer, so it was perfect! He was happy that I was paid for, and I was happy that I for sure got a spot!

I was joined by three other students (all current seniors) in the lab for the summer, and boy did we have a blast. Working on multiple studies, we focused on progressing our projects and delving into the research we are not able to progress much on during the academic year. We worked on GnIH rat studies, cannulizing different locations of the hypothalamus to determine what the affect of GnIH is on feeding behaviors, behavioral duck studies, and a brand new water study on ducks that is technically TOP SECRET.

When thinking about research, it’s really a two way street. What can the student do for the mentor (of course- putting in the work and learning the material) but also what the mentor can do for the student. Teaching a scientist how to do science is NOT EASY. As new members come into our lab, veteran members are constantly learning how to best teach and mentor the new members. I give Dr. Fraley such credit for doing this 365 days a year for consistently new lab members.

Also, mentors give you CONNECTIONS. One of the most powerful things Dr. Fraley has done for us (other than teaching us science, and how to conduct science), is bringing us to national conferences and introducing us to elite members of the scientific community.

We had two AWESOME opportunities this summer to really get to know some of the top members in the poultry field.  The first event was a research conference at Maple Leaf Farms Co. to introduce the executives at MLF to the research and potential research that can be done to improve the poultry industry and standards they use daily.

Alexis Presenting for Maple Leaf FarmsAlexis Presenting for Maple Leaf Farms

Two of our lab members presented posters at MLF, and two of us did 15 minute presentations on our research. I happened to give a 15 minute presentation and BOY was a I NERVOUS. Standing in front of experts in your field and presenting on your findings is quite intimidating. However, the crowd was very receptive, interested, and asked GREAT questions that really helped me improve my research goals and define the next steps in my project.
The second event was a week-long trip to San Diego, California to attend the American Poultry Association Yearly Meeting.
We met an incredible amount of scientists, PhD and Masters Students and it was a great time to learn not only about other research but about possible careers in the sciences. You can read about graduate schools and opportunities there, but hearing it first-hand from students attending these schools is really a great resource.
2 generations of Poultry Scientists
2 generations of Poultry Scientists

At both conferences, we got to meet up with our “Lab Uncle and cousins,” Dr. Fraley’s colleague Dr. Michael Lilburn and his students. It was fun to pretend they were our “Lab Family.”

Grandma and the Fraley Lab
The Fraley Lab with Grandma!

We also met Dr. Fraley’s lab mentor and his wife! We had been anticipating meeting our “grandma and grandpa” for weeks before our conferences. When our “lab grandma” approached, she really surprised us by screaming, “ITS ME!!! GRANDMA!!!!” We definitely got a kick out of that.

Old Town San Diego

Of course our days weren’t only spent inside learning science and talking to colleagues. We got to do some site-seeing, mostly in Old Town San Diego. It was fantastic! With little shops, restaurants and performers, it was a great way to experience San Diego for the first time.

Old Town San Diego
Sightseeing in San Diego Old Town
Dr. Mamduh Sifri who joined us both in Indiana and San Diego
Dr. Mamduh Sifri who joined us both in Indiana and San Diego

While at the national conference, Chelsea Campbell and I presented yet again. This time, we did a 10 minute presentation with 5 minutes for questions from the audience. At the end of the conference, we got awards for our quality presentations. We were even featured on KnowHope later that week!

Fabulous Four In San Diego
Fabulous Four In San Diego

Though the summer was fun, of course, time goes on. Soon, I’ll fill you in on the Van Andel Institute conference we attended with new members of our lab. I am really proud of our new members who are really acclimating well and making great advances on our projects.

The Fraley Lab at VAI for WMRUGS 2013
The Fraley Lab at VAI for WMRUGS 2013

If you have any questions about summer research, or research at Hope, feel free to email me at amanda.porter@hope.edu or tweet me @hopeamanda15.

Published by Amanda Porter

Hi! I'm Amanda. I'm from Traverse City, Mi and I'm a Junior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. I do research for the Fraley lab on the gut bacterial ecology of Pekin ducks and I work for the Chemistry department! Aspiring Neurosurgeon and LOVE to learn in all situations. Follow me on Twitter! @hopeamanda15

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