Every summer, rising seniors at Concord Academy have the opportunity to apply to the Interested Students Pursuing Internship Research Experiences (InSPIRE) program. The program matches students to research mentors in the Greater Boston area for the summer. This year, four students, Grace King ’22, Tess Mooney ’22, Maggie Myslik ’22, and Hannah Wixom ’22, participated in the program to intern full time at a lab that specializes in their area of interest for approximately eight weeks.
Hannah was interested in robotics and interned at a lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital this summer. She researched and created devices for prostate cancer with members in the lab from all over the world. Her main task for the summer was to create the hardware and software for an adaptive needle guide device for prostate cancer. The purpose of the new device was to improve the accuracy of the final needle placement by correcting the error after it is inserted in prostate biopsies.
Looking back on her internship, Hannah reflects on all the skills she had learned. “I learned how to communicate with an international team, how to share my ideas and progress, new programming languages, how to combine multiple languages and hardware together,” she stated. During her time there, she was also exposed to the different equipment used during procedures in the hospital.
Tess worked with Grace at the Perlis Lab in Massachusetts General Hospital. The lab focused on inducing microglia cells to create a more effective therapy for psychiatric diseases, particularly schizophrenia, through understanding the mechanisms behind increased or decreased phagocytosis. During their internship, Tess and Grace researched optimization procedures for increasing the reliability of results and improving data accuracy. The two learned many skills in just a few weeks: In the wet lab, they learned how to make media (cell food), pipette, complete ICC (immunocytochemistry, which is used to visualize protein expression in cell anatomy), and use ImageJ and Cellprofiler to create images. In the dry lab, they learned how to clean and analyze datasets using R.
When asked to give a piece of advice for future InSPIRE students, Hannah replied, “Jump in! Take advantage of the people and resources around you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!”
Similarly, Tess recommended, “Be prepared to fully engage in the experience and the science […] come prepared to be open-minded and enthusiastic about the work. [It] makes the opportunity invaluable.”