Making the long walk from French Family Science Center to Genome Sciences Research Building II into the Yin Lab for the first day of BSURF, I felt nervous about my first day in the lab. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d spent a few weeks in chemistry lab during one summer in high school, but I knew this experience would be different— I’d never worked with live animals before, a component integral to the research being done in the Yin Lab.
During my first week in the lab, all of my reservations about being in the lab over the summer were put at ease. The postdoc with whom I’m working, Francesco, helped me every step of the way, showing me how to handle, feed, weigh, and train my 8 mice. My project relates to the mechanisms of operant learning in the mammalian brain. To analyze this pathway, we’re using a technique called optogenetic (light-based) stimulation in the mice brains. Essentially, when we illuminate the implanted region of the brain, it’ll either be stimulated or inhibited. Then we’ll try to see if that effect hurts each mouse’s ability to learn how to press a lever and receive a pellet reward.
I’m extremely excited about this project and my summer in the lab. I’ve already met tons of insightful and experienced individuals in both my lab and in the BSURF program. I’m coming into this experience with an open mind. I have two goals this summer: learn lab skills and meet people to learn about them and their science. The BSURF program is well-structured for both of these goals. I’m loving my time this summer, and I’m excited for what’s to come.