In Summer 2021, the Bioluminesce Hub welcomed five students from Howard University, Oberlin College, and the University of California, Los Angeles for its second Virtual Internship to build BLBase, a database of the attributes of all known bioluminescent molecules. "We also had the opportunity to dive more deeply into the techniques of optogenetics and molecular engineering, and think more intentionally about potential applications of bioluminescence as a driver of optogenetics," says Rochelle van der Merwe, a recent graduate of Oberlin College.
The Hub also offered a 10-week, in-person internship to five undergraduate students from Central Michigan University. Interns received hands-on experience in neuroscience professor Ute Hochgeschwender's lab, where they learned about quantification of behavior using machine learning, the impact of chemogenetic technologies on brain cells and tissues, in vivo mouse surgeries, and more.
"These opportunities offer the chance to participate in real research and make independent discoveries that contribute to our active projects," says Justine Allen, program manager of the Bioluminescence Hub. "Perhaps more importantly, these internships allow students to learn firsthand about the rewards and challenges of research and to use their experience to help decide whether to pursue a career in research before they commit to graduate or medical school."
Intern Macy Knoblock echoes that sentiment. "This summer, I not only gained practical knowledge and lab skills, but the people in the lab helped encourage me to think critically to design my experiments, become a better presenter, and have confidence in my abilities as a researcher as I go forward into graduate school and beyond."