The second undergraduate to share her experience is Devon Jones, who is one of the newer undergraduates in the lab. Since January, Devon has been working with with one of the graduate students, Shayen Sreetharan, on a mouse project. This summer, she is starting to get her feet wet in the fish lab. Devon will start her senior thesis in the lab this fall.
Devon Jones, Undergraduate Researcher
H.BSc. Biology, Physiology Specialization, Level IV, McMaster University
I entered the Wilson lab in January of 2016, halfway through the third year of my undergraduate degree. Having only been a part of the lab for a short time, I feel like I have a lot to learn, but I’m slowly making progress. The majority of the work I have been involved in so far has been assisting with Shayen Sreetharan’s M. Sc. Thesis project. Shayen is studying the effects of varying amounts of low dose gamma irradiation in utero on C57Bl/6 mice. These low doses are similar to the quantity of radiation that would be administered during a brief x-ray or other form of medical imaging test. One of his main points of interest is how these low doses during the fetal period can impact the blood pressure of the pups at about 16 weeks of age. My primary focus for the summer is collecting these blood pressure measurements. I am also doing some data analysis, as well as learning some of the techniques other graduate students use on their projects. In the fall, I will begin working on my senior thesis, which will focus primarily on fludamide exposures and the impacts on androgen receptors and CYP expression.
Still being new to the lab atmosphere, I’m in the process of accumulating crucial skills as well as learning regular maintenance and other important components to helping the entire lab function smoothly as a whole. The biggest thing I’m starting to realize is how little you know about science before you try lab work. Classes and tutorials can only teach students so much about where results come from, and what procedures actually involve. When you read a paper, or listen to a lecture, you have no concept of what is actually involved in producing the end result. I probably learned about how the PCR process worked 3 times during my undergrad, but until trying it in real life, I didn’t really grasp how much work and time are involved in executing the process. Additionally, no paper ever mentions the number of pipette tips that need to be autoclaved, or how long an autoclave cycle takes, in order to obtain your molecular biology results. The big picture is so much bigger than I expected! I think it is important for every undergraduate student to get involved in a lab setting to learn about how these things work. Whether it is running a behavioural study or a pharmaceutical exposure, you can’t learn this stuff in a simulated 3 hour lab slot. I definitely wish I had gotten involved in this lab sooner than I did, but I plan to make the most of my time here!