As a participant in the DAAD RISE Summer Internship, I was conducting research in Dresden, Germany, at a clinic affiliated with the Technische Universität Dresden. The Carl Gustav Clinic where I worked housed a large research group focused on cellular immunity. I worked directly under a Ph.D. student who helped me with my project. My work focused on uncovering the influence of polarization on lipid metabolism in macrophages, which can also be described as a project focused on the metabolism of immune cells in different life stages.
This international research internship taught me as much in the lab as outside of it. I currently am in Germany as I submit my application, and will continue to be here until the end of my three-month project. My project on the interaction between lipid metabolism and macrophage polarization states is being conducted at the Carl Gustav Clinic at the Technische Universität Dresden. The project I worked on afforded me more independence, making me accountable for my own experimental schedule and project direction. This increased responsibility has helped me develop as a scientist and become more confident in my own lab skills. I have also grown non-academically after moving across the Atlantic Ocean to a new city in a foreign country. Having studied German for 8 years, communicating was merely intimidating rather than difficult. Assimilating into the more self-aware society here has shifted my viewpoints in favor of a globalized perspective. Now after exploring various cities around Europe I have become more self-sufficient and secure in my ability to succeed in new environments and unfamiliar situations.
For the past two semesters, and now again this year, I have been working in a virus research lab on campus. My project for the past year has focused on unveiling the influence of influenza viral proteins on the polarization of lung macrophages. This project, along with my advanced biology and biochemistry courses, prepared me to function efficiently in the lab I interned for. I had a substantial knowledge base about the topic of my new project and had practical experience in the lab. Both of these aspects made my transition smooth and presented me with the opportunity to accomplish a substantial amount of work during my time abroad.
I’m taking away valuable lessons from this experience of both an academic and personal nature. Working in a lab full time gave me a better idea of the type of research I want to engage in during my graduate education. The experience of working with a variety of people in the lab on a number of techniques also helped me discover the kind of environment I work best in. Outside of the lab, I gained valuable insight on engaging in international communities. My German grew stronger through ample practice and my awareness of non-American cultural issues and topics increased.