Blog post from Jenny Chen

Hi everyone! My name is Jenny Chen, and I’m a rising sophomore.

I’m very excited to be working in Larissa’s lab this summer. Being the youngest student in the lab, I’m always learning from the rising seniors, and I’m grateful to have three additional guides/mentors in addition to my professor. This is an incredible opportunity.

For me, doing research at Bates is very different than working in other labs. Bates has always prided itself in having professors that are teaching and student oriented–this goes for summer research as well. The professors have our interests in mind. Whenever we start a new protocol, Larissa asks us to think through the process first so we know what we can explain the reasoning behind each step. For an undergraduate who has only completed entry level biology courses, this guidance is extremely helpful in the future, where critical thinking skills become more and more important.

Interestingly, I have come to perceive mistakes and failures differently, perhaps even more positively. For the past weeks, we have been troubleshooting an in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) protocol that has only been done in three labs in the world. We are essentially trying to link proteins and DNA together in zebrafish embryos. It was not easy–we encountered problems right from the beginning, and I could feel my frustrations building up. However, I had to admit that the failures made me delve deeper into the biological principles behind each step of the protocol and make the necessary changes. We were finally able to extract single cell masses from the zebrafish embryos. Having had to “fight” for success, it made the victory that much more satisfying. It was truly our protocol, our data, and not just an irrelevant data set taken from class or a paper on the internet. It was a feeling of satisfaction that could not be replicated.

Anyways, that’s all for now. We’re still ChIPing away (get it?), and hopefully, more good news will come.