I began my first day at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures as an intern SPARK student anxious and eager to begin my eight week program. As the 10 of us future interns waited, I found out we were all as nervous and excited to begin this journey. At the Nolta Lab Monday’s begin with our weekly meeting, discussing lab updates and having interesting science presentations; this was where I first heard who my mentor would be, Dr. Fernando Fierro.
After all the lab safety, and training, we walked down the bays and I entered the Wound and Orthopedic Team. I met the entire team and soon enough Dr. Fierro began teaching me about mesenchymal stem cells, and about what my project would be about. Since I had never heard about mesenchymal stem cells, my research began on YouTube, watching different videos about them.
After many days of observing my team work in the hood making media, changing media, or passaging cells, I was asked on the second week if I would like to change media to a T225 flask. I felt nervous and scared, but still very excited; I eagerly put my sleeves on, sprayed ethanol my hands, and began by unscrewing the T225 Flask. My team guided me throughout the media change and after many weeks in the biosafety cabinet, I was able to change the media confidently. I was also beginning my project and so I had my own cells to take care of, which also meant I would be passaging and counting cells. Because my proliferation had many time points to passage cells, and soon enough I began lifting cells with ease. I also came to one of the more tedious experiments in my project, loading a qPCR plate. Running the plate is quite simple, since the machine does all the work, however loading a qPCR takes time from making the calculations, to making dilutions and the master mix. However, the qPCR helped me develop my pipetting skills. I gained a variety of skills, and absolutely loved working in the lab.
Along with working in our bay, and the biosafety cabinet, we were able to take a Biology 225 class, taught by Dr. Bauer. One of the greatest things about this class is everything correlated to what I was doing in the lab. For example, I was able to become familiar with the concept of Flow Cytometry the week before I would be testing what markers were present in my rabbit mesenchymal stem cells. Although it was a challenging class, one thing I enjoyed about the class is Dr. Bauer would make sure we actually understood concepts and not just memorized to pass the tests.
My experience at the Nolta lab will be unforgettable. This has been my absolute favorite summer, filled with many new friendships, and a deeper understanding of science and what it means to actually be a scientist. Thank you to the entire Nolta Lab and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for giving me an amazing experience where my love for science could grow!