Biology Major Emily Zhang’s Internship Helped Her Become “A Much Better Student and Individual”

Junior Biology Major Emily Zhang smiles while holding laboratory equipment at the IU School of MedicineAs junior Biology major Emily Zhang says — laboratory work is cool. She interned in Dr. Melissa L. Fishel’s lab at the Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the IU School of Medicine as a research intern. 

She worked closely with a group of mentors to research critical molecular targets and cancer cell death pathways in Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors using newfound skills in qPCR, cell culture, Western Blotting, flow cytometry, and analysis.

Emily said one of the most rewarding parts of her experience was seeing what she learned in the classroom translate into real-life lab work, and how that can make big impacts in the world.

“I can look out the window of my lab space and see the bridge connecting our research building to Riley Children’s Hospital which literally and figuratively shows the science and innovation passing through that will help so many of the kids,” she said.

Her other lab members were a source of inspiration for her. She saw how they were passionate about their work, and how they kept their heads up no matter what obstacles they faced.

“I now know I want to do more research in the future,” Emily said. “I have also become a much better student and individual, becoming more detail-oriented, organized, and developing great time-managing skills because of the high amounts of new knowledge and skills acquired every day.”

The Herman B. Wells Center held intern seminars where Emily learned about various jobs in the science field, such as genetic counseling, biostatistics, and M.D and Ph.D. positions.

“It widened up my view of how much career diversity there is out there to explore,” she said.

Internships are often short and over before you know it. Emily’s advice to others would be to make use of resources available to you, instead of just going in every day to do your assigned job. 

“Explore the surroundings, get to know your co-workers, get to know the people not directly related to your field, ask questions, and set goals for yourself so that you are learning every day and that no day at work is boring,” she said.

Emily was able to create a personalized routine that balanced her life and helped her not become overwhelmed by the new environment.

By Maureen Langley
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