Working in a Local Lab: Faith and Mallory’s Experience

Meet Faith & Mallory

Faith: Hi, I’m Faith. I’m a biology major at St Olaf College.

Mallory: Hello, I’m Mallory and I’m a biology major at Bates College.

We sat down with DIS students Faith and Mallory to get a better idea of what working in a lab in Copenhagen is really like. Find out what they are working on, what their daily life abroad is like, and how their hands-on learning has shaped their future back home.

DIS: What are you up to in your lab?

 Faith: We are currently working on our research paper, trying to figure out what our discussion will be like.

Mallory: We think we differentiated microglia, which is the macrophages of the CNS, and they came out kind of funny looking, so we’ve been trying to find an explanation for why they don’t have long neurites coming out of them. We think we might have just found a paper that would explain that.

DIS: So, a good discovery?

Both: Yes!

DIS: What is your day to day like at the lab?

Faith: We are here Monday through Friday, and once on the weekends. It depends on the day, but sometimes we are just here for an hour or two. However, if we are doing something like ICC, immunocidal chemistry, then it can take up to four or five hours.

DIS: How would you describe what you are working on?

Mallory: We are studying Alzheimer’s disease, specifically sporadic Alzheimer’s disease, which is the type of Alzheimer’s disease that does not have a genetic link. We are looking at the sporadic type because it’s considered more environmental. What we are trying to do is look at the relationship between microglia, which are the macrophages of the central nervous system, and neurons. There is currently a hypothesis that says that hyper activated microglia could be what leads to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

DIS: How was the experience?

Faith: I’ve really enjoyed doing research. It’s the first time that I’ve done a research lab in college. The people here are really amazing and the teaching assistant that we have here, Henrietta, is super helpful. It’s been a really good experience.

Mallory: I’ve really been thinking of going into the research field, so this has been a good trial run to see if I actually like it and if it’s something I enjoy doing. And I really have – it’s been so much fun to work with Faith and Henrietta, and to see how it all progresses for real.

DIS: Do you think you will take this experience back to your home university?

Mallory: I have plans to take what I’ve learned here back home to the lab I’m working in. My lab at home has started coming up with a project for me to do based on what I’ve learned here.

DIS: Is there anything that stuck out as being particularly memorable?

Mallory: It has been really fun to have such a unique abroad experience. I think going abroad and doing more than just taking classes, but actually being able to do research at a real university with other Danish and international students has been really unique and special.

Faith: The whole process itself has been really memorable – being in the lab, and the fact that they give us so much independence to do our own thing.

Mallory: Sometimes the lab for us is more of like a dance party than a lab experience. We’re always listening to music. It’s really fun, we’re in there pipetting to whatever popular Danish music that’s on the radio.

DIS: What has the collaboration been like between the two of you?

Mallory: We have gotten to know each other really fast. We’re in lab together for a couple of hours every day, and we really rely on each other to double check our work and make sure we’re doing the right thing. However, we have also learned to trust each other.

Faith: It’s nice to know that even though you mess up, that it’s still a learning process. You learn through it together.

DIS: What are your future goals? Are you thinking of pursuing research?

Faith: It was a really good start for me to be a part of this lab. I think part of what I’m going to try to do next summer is to apply for more research with neurodegenerative diseases. I want to see whether this is a true passion I have.

Mallory: At DIS, I was hoping to take one course that was geared towards the medical field and one towards research. I chose my Core Course, Medical Practice & Policy, to see if I wanted to become a doctor and I took this Research Assistantship to see if I would like research. Working in this lab, I’ve realized that I might want to pursue a career in research.

DIS: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Mallory: I would really recommend applying to do research at DIS; it’s been a crazy cool experience.

Faith: And it’s not really an opportunity you can get at college. In college, you usually have a lot of dependency on your professors. Here, you get to be more accountable for yourself.

Mallory: We have a lot more time to put into research while we’re here at DIS than we ever would taking a full course load at school. That’s really unique.

Want to learn more about working in a lab abroad?

>> Learn more about the DIS Summer Labs & Research session

>> Find all the semester lab and research opportunities at DIS Stockholm

>> Find all the semester lab and research opportunities at DIS Copenhagen

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