Flies!

I had a very neat and tidy plan for how to finish my degree, and then suddenly my school released the course offerings for the summer and I realized pretty darn quick that they were offering zero courses I needed. I love my school and all but it’s a bit frustrating. I had to pivot quickly and decided to do another co-op for the summer semester and then return to classes in the fall.

In the interest of trying to remain optimistic, I only let myself cry for about 20 minutes, and then got to work creating a Plan B to get excited about.

I knew that I wanted to work at Accelerate, having gone through the program with a team (and gotten funded!) and then been a work study student for them. The only catch was that the position was listed at only 32 hours a week instead of full time. Again… optimism… I emailed one of my favorite professors about being a research assistant for her in order to fill the rest of my time.

So that’s the story of how I’m doing research into Drosophila, colloquially known as the fruit fly.

The main question driving the research is “How does Rdl impact locomotion as a result of photoreception?”

uh……..?

In other words – why the heck does this specific mutant fly become completely paralyzed when it’s placed in darkness!?

I won’t be going into the specific details of findings here, but I wanted to share some snippets from my lab notebook:

What I did my first day of research!

Date: May 17th, 2016. Time: 1pm-2:30pm

Where: Ira Allen Biology Labs

What: Learned how to differentiate between male and female mature flies. 100% accurately sorted flies.
Observed larvae in sucrose food solution.
Learned how to make food.
Learned how to anesthetize flies.
Discussed what we would be researching this summer -> certain fly mutations are completely paralyzed in darkness. We will be exploring this phenomenon.

I’m really enjoying working in the lab. Being able to devote a longer span of time to an experiment or line of research is very exciting for me!

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Finishing at MGH

Wow – I really had planned to write more while actually at MGH, but things just picked up and started going fast.

Before the co-op started I had to write a description of my job, here’s what I wrote:

Under supervision, providing engineering and technical services to hospital staff. This can include testing and repair of medical technology or computer systems within clinical or research areas. Documentation of implementation and testing of medical technology and computer systems. Educating medical and technical staff on operation of technology.

I think I was pretty accurate in that description. Some of the things I did at MGH included:

Configuring EKG machines to suit the needs of clinicians.
Configuring & troubleshooting anesthesia machines in preparation of software upgrades.
Observing a heart-lung machine being used over the course of a by-pass graft surgery.
Completing an MRI safety course.
Using an Argon Beam Coagulator in the MGH biomed workshop, and observing its use during surgery.
Updating drug databases for drug dispensing and safety machines.
Providing day-to-day user support for systems that network devices together in the operating rooms, pre/post anesthesia units, and other clinical areas.
Testing medical device integration across all preoperative areas.
Training staff to use new software and devices.
Preventative maintenance on conscious monitoring devices to adhere to FDA guidelines.

I’ve struggled with Impostor Syndrome pretty much the entire time. Why did I get hired for this co-op over the 30-40 people that applied? Did I do a good job? Was my work well done? Was I actually contributing to the hospital and being an asset to my team?

I’ve been reassured by my friends and colleagues that yes, I did deserve to be there, I was doing a good job, etc etc, but Impostor Syndrome is such a nasty little voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m not good enough and that it’s egotistical and naive to think that I am.

I took two weeks off between internships, and will now be working at Wentworth Accelerate Innovation+Entrepreneurship Center until August, then back to classes in September.