Research Perspective: Arctic Ground Squirrels


It is now midday in the Drew lab and experiments have been underway since 8:00am. Tissue samples and their respective proteins are analyzed by a procedure called the Western blot. {I've since heard of methods called the Southern and Northern blots...but no Eastern blot...hmm!} I, personally, have been in what I like to term the "Operating Room". And, yes, with an arctic ground squirrel, another intern, and a graduate student.
courtesy of Jeanette Moore

You might be wondering why such a friendly student like myself would participate in animal research. First, a research lab is kept under strict supervision and all experiments must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Plus, I treat the squirrels with respect and am grateful for what their amazing biochemistry teaches us.

Through the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) I saw a presentation about the Drew lab. This was back in 2006, when I was a junior in high school. {Start sprouting connections early!} All these years later I'm finally an intern in the lab. This essentially means that I get paid to learn. My grant money comes from the National Science Foundation, but the opportunity was presented to me by ANSEP. By coincidence, I discovered that this lab collaborates with the Dow Neurobiology Lab in Portland, Oregon. I passed through that city this summer, on my way to a friend's wedding. I arranged to meet a neuroscientist there. We spoke of her research and graduate programs in the area.

My advice: keep asking questions and check-out all the different opportunities. You never know when one may bloom :)

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