Mentoring future scientists

This summer, as part of the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project, our graduate student, Sierra Bonney mentored two interns; Kayley Marchena, a senior at Queens College and Abhinav Vaduri, a high school senior at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Over the course of 11 weeks and under the guidance of Debora Esposito, these two interns explored the world of cellular biology. Their project was focused on the effects of Brassinosteroids as they relate to wound healing and inflammation pathways. Kayley and Abhinav spent hours getting hands-on experience in the lab preparing samples, treating cells, and performing complex experiments like qRT-PCR, Reactive Oxygen Species, wound healing, and Nitric Oxide assays.

At the end of their 11 week journey the interns were tasked with presenting their findings on stage in front of a wide audience of peers, parents, and fellow scientists. In preparation for this event Kayley and Abhinav had to not only create their on-stage presentation, but a supplemental poster, for a competition between the other intern groups. Both Kayley and Abhinav did a splendid job, scoring 3rd place in the poster competition! Our interns have since returned back to their respective schools, but we were happy to provide them with an environment where they could grow, both as individuals and as junior scientists.

Abhinav Vaduri, P2EP Intern

“As part of the 2018 summer P2EP internship program, I was assigned to Dr. Esposito’s lab to work on a project dealing with the effects of Brassica vegetables on antioxidant capacity, inflammation, and wound healing. As a high school student, this was my first experience in a real lab environment, and a great experience. I learned how to perform assays and maintain a cell culture lab, as well as several other tests. This experience has also influenced me as to what major I may wish to pursue as an undergraduate. Everyone in the Esposito lab was extremely nice and helpful, and always willing to assist with any tests we were working on. As a high school student, there was obviously a large gap between me and other lab members, in terms of knowledge, but I never felt left out or put down. I also learned a lot from Dr. Esposito, not only for this project but what paths I could pursue in the future. I would certainly recommend the P2EP program to others, especially other high school students with similar interests exploring different career options.” -Abhinav Vaduri

Kayley Marchena, P2EP Intern

“As a senior at Queens University of Charlotte, a small liberal arts school, I did not get much opportunity to apply cell biology techniques outside of the classroom or lab. P2EP allowed me to, not only practice the old skills that I have learned, but also pick up new ones. I learned that simply maintaining cells is hard work in itself, and that things don’t always go as planned. Working in the Esposito lab allowed me to see how diverse the scientific community is, even in Kannapolis! I learned that it takes a team of people working together to accomplish any project.

I will be applying to graduate school these next few months, and the skills that I have picked up over the course of the summer in Dr. Esposito’s lab, and also P2EP, will be tremendously valuable. Not just wet lab skills, but also public speaking and presentation skills! I highly recommend students to take advantage of this amazing program.” -Kayley Marchena