Image of Student Abstracts: Navigating Through Life Sciences: From Laboratory Research to Hands-On Clinical Experiences

Student Abstracts: Navigating Through Life Sciences: From Laboratory Research to Hands-On Clinical Experiences

Eliza Butler '23
Major: Biology, Chemistry

Substrate type and manipulation on the formation of a nanoparticle monolayer

Nanoparticles are of great interest due to the ability to “control” their function and/or behavior by altering different parameters. Iron oxide nanoparticle size ranges between 1-100nm, superparamagnetic ones ranging between 1-20nm. They are of interest because superparamagnetic nanoparticles can achieve an “active” and “inactive” magnetic state. Floppy disks and tapes can store data magnetically. Through the use of magnetic nanoparticles, we can create a more efficient way to store data. In order for this to work, different types of substrates were tested, as well as manipulated, in order to achieve a monolayer of these nanoparticles. A smooth monolayer ensures that data storage transfer is not misaligned.


Rameen Farrukh '24
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Chemistry

Quantification Of Nerve Innervation Using Axonal Segmentation Masks In Prostate Tumors

I worked with prostate cancer (PC) tissues which is the second most common cancer type among men. There is a bidirectional interaction between neurons and prostate cancer cells that impacts patient outcomes. During my internship, I quantified nerve innervation in prostate tumors and developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm to study their spatial interactions with other cell types such as blood vessels, immune cells, and prostate cancer cell types. Previously an AI approach has not been used to quantify axons in PC. Experimentally these prostate tissues were stained with different antibodies and underwent Cyclic Immunofluorescence protocols. For quantification purposes, the images were transferred to a machine learning algorithm (mask R-CNN) that trained itself to automatically detect axons and quantify them for us. This research is crucial for the early detection of PC because knowing the threshold of neurons in prostate tissues could lead us to detect PC at an earlier stage before it has metastasized.


Lifen Htet '24
Major: Neuroscience & Behavior
Minor: Philosophy

Finding Self in College though Life Sciences Research

This summer, I worked in the Downes Laboratory at UMass Amherst. Downes Laboratory’s goal is to better understand how genes and neural networks in the brain and spinal cord control movement. I worked under the project in which we investigated the neurobiological mechanism behind the genetic disorder called TBCK Syndrome. TBCK Syndrome is a rare and severe neurological disease in humans that causes epilepsy, hypotonia, intellectual disability, and childhood mortality with no known cure or treatment. As a research assistant, I identified effective dosages of FDA approved small molecules that could be used to develop a potential therapeutic treatment for children with TBCK mutation. My daily duties involved taking care of the zebrafish larvae, preparing drugs of appropriate dosages, gathering data, and analyzing results. My presentation will focus on how I utilized the experiences, knowledge, and resources I gathered at Mount Holyoke in shaping the scientist I aspire to become.


Valentina Shrum '24
Major: Biochemistry

Experiencing Public Health in Cape Coast, Ghana

As a pre-med student, my goal this summer was to experience a position that involved medicine in the public health sphere. I had the opportunity to gain this experience internationally by working at a reproductive clinic in Cape Coast, Ghana. The clinic provides various reproductive healthcare with a focus on family planning, STI testing, and pregnancy and abortion care. My work was mainly set in the laboratory of the clinic, where I performed tests according to the clients need. Working closely with the employees in all departments, I quickly felt part of a team. The skills and experience I gained at the clinic were not only focused on technical skills, but also cooperation and teamwork. Practicing living in a completely different environment brought with it new challenges and adventures that I have never experienced, and I hope I can share what I’ve learned this summer to those who wish for an similarly impactful experience.