"The summer before my senior year in high school (2011) I was accepted in the BSP program where I worked in Dr. Edward Kravitz's laboratory. My project consisted of using the Gal4-UAS system to investigate the effects of the pheromone receptor Gr32a on aggression in Drosophila melanogaster. We did this in order to understand this receptor’s role in octopaminergic neuromodulatory connections and its function in the chemosensory-driven male social behavior pathway. Upon Dr. Kravitz's invitation and with the support of the BSP program, I returned the following summer and worked on mapping the expression of different transgenic alleles in the cephalic lobe of Drosophila using immunohistochemistry and 3D imaging. This study helped expand our understanding of how aggression develops in flies and other species, including humans, since the genes involved in this behavior are evolutionarily conserved.
With Dr. Kravitz’s recommendation, I became an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Harold Zakon in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Texas, Austin starting my freshman year throughout college. There, I studied phylogenetic reconstruction of teleosts, specifically the divergence of duplicated genes.
During the summer of 2014, I participated in the Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program at HMS and worked in Dr. Stephen Liberles’ laboratory. My project consisted of identifying genes enriched in trace amine associated receptors (TAAR)-expressing olfactory sensory neurons by in situ hybridization. This study helped understand how the TAAR subsystem develops in order to find the role of TAAR-expressing neurons in species-specific behavior that allows for appropriate social interactions.
Since I graduated college the summer of 2015, I’ve been part of the Research Scholars Initiative post-baccalaureate program at HMS, continuing to work in the Liberles Lab. I have been focused on studying internal sensory systems. Currently, we are investigating how toxins are sensed by the vagus nerve, leading to the feeling of nausea. Determining the receptors and neural pathways involved will help to identify readily accessible targets for the development of anti-nausea therapeutics that are more effective and have fewer side effects.
Participating in BSP opened the doors for my scientific career by presenting me the opportunity to work with experienced mentors and explored novel ideas with outstanding faculty. I cannot express how crucial BSP has been, not only for my scientific path, but also personally. During the two summers that I spent in Dr. Kravitz’s lab, I began to form my identity as a Latina in STEM. Working alongside Dr. Maria de La Paz Fernandez, who became my first role model as a Latina woman scientist. I was mesmerized by the intellect and determination she possessed in the lab. These qualities, along with her startling innovation, became the traits I strove to replicate in my own life.
The program allowed me to apply to the subsequent internships that have deepened my intellectual curiosity and greatly improved my practical skills for conducting significant and innovative research. This foundation for scientific problem solving has prepared me for the next step of hopefully being part of a doctoral program. The BSP program have proven to be an incredible early incubator for scientists. I believe that thanks to the initial opportunity BSP gave me of being part of the wonderful community at Harvard, with any luck, I can become a valuable asset for the American and world-wide scientific community."
- Monica Sarahi Cisneros, Research Scholar at Harvard Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin, B.A, 2015, BSP Fellow in 2011
"For the past two summers, I have worked in the Rabkin Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital as a member of the Basic Science Partnership (BSP) Fellowship program. As part of the neurosurgery department at MGH, the Rabkin Lab works with oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) to develop more effective treatment methods for glioblastoma, a malignant brain cancer. This program was my first experience in the world of academia research. I had participated in previous programs at Biogen Idec, but nothing for this extended period of time. In my first summer, I learned the basic techniques used in cloning: polymerase chain reactions, restriction enzyme digests, gel extractions, transformations, and mini/maxipreps. As a second year fellow, I was taught the fundamentals in cell culturing and viral infections. Because of the wide range of training I received, I feel as though I have an excellent foundation for any research I wish to pursue in the future.
The BSP Program has definitely had a significant impact in my major and college decision, in that it has peaked my interest in the human brain and how it works. I will be attending Boston University, a large research institute that has many opportunities for their undergraduates to get involved in the biomedical field, and will be majoring in Biology with a specialization in neurobiology.
The most influential aspect of this program, for me, was the exposure to the unique members of my lab. There were MDs, post-docs, and graduate students that all had their own story of how they got to where they are in their lives. It was interesting and beneficial to hear about their career path, and see that there was not one definite route to their position. Consequently, I am thinking of pursuing an MD/PhD dual degree program after my undergraduate studies, something I never even considered prior to this program. I am truly grateful for this amazing experience and the opportunity to conduct research in a lab setting before even attending college."
- Joy Jarnagin, BSP Fellow in 2015 and 2016
"I have worked in the Van Vactor Lab studying genome engineering and regulatory RNAs for the past two summers through the Basic Science Program Fellowship. As a first year fellow, the program and my mentors taught me the basic lab skills and fundamental scientific concepts necessary to be an active and productive member of the lab. In my second year, while I continued to learn new skills and concepts, I was also afforded greater independence and responsibility in the lab and challenged with increasingly complex projects.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity the BSP program has given me to participate in scientific research before even entering college. The experience was obviously challenging and, like any job, not always exciting. But, it did provide an in depth, realistic look at academic science, which crystallized my interest in the field. I was surrounded by undergrads, post-grads, graduate students, PhDs and MDs; all who described their academic and career paths and could offer me advice about my own. I feel I am at a great advantage going into college having a more accurate understanding of what my options are after I graduate. In this way, the work experience I had through the BSP program gave me more than just practical skills and knowledge; it gave me the confidence to pursue science as an academic interest and possibly a career."
- Colby Parsons, BSP Fellow in 2014 and 2015
"I spent the summers of 2014-2015 working as an Intern for the Basic Science Partnership (BSP) Fellowship program. I worked on projects in the area of Tumor Immunology at the Haining lab in the Department of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This was my first experience working in a lab and it has been truly transformative. Having the opportunity to work in a world-renowned institute helped me solidify my interest and intended career path in biomedical sciences. It helped me choose the colleges that I applied to by focusing on universities where research is as important as teaching. I plan to double major in Biology and Psychology at Case Western Reserve University and will be taking advantage of biomedical research opportunities that the university and the city of Cleveland has to offer.
BSP helped me obtain hands-on experience in a professional lab setting. I gained knowledge in molecular biology and the effective design of scientific experiments way beyond the level of a high school student. While I learned significantly from my mentor, Robert Manguso, a doctoral student at Harvard Medical School, I also benefited from interacting with other researchers in the lab. Through the weekly BSP lunch seminars and presentations, I got the opportunity to interact with my peers in the BSP program and gained insight into other areas of biomedical research. I am grateful to have had this amazing opportunity to experience research before entering college."
-Shilpa Bhat, BSP Fellow in 2014 and 2015
"The BSP fellowship program gave me a very unique opportunity to work with a high school student on a real research project. I have always enjoyed teaching and supervising students at all levels, but I must admit that I was a bit skeptical in the beginning as to how much lab work a high school student can do and if he will even grasp the rudiments of the project. To my surprise, my student and I accomplished much more together than I have ever expected, and more importantly we had lots of fun doing so! The questions he asked me were naive but at the same time refreshing, making me look at my research project in a different perspective. It was tremendously enjoyable for me to have been able to help a young student experience how a real world science is done (i.e., asking questions, being puzzled by the experimental results, and then coming up with more experimental ideas). The BSP fellowship program is a great way for getting young people interested in science and it gives a graduate student or a postdoc a rare and rewarding teaching experience."
- Kelly Kim, Mentor in the BSP Fellowship Program in 2014
"Right after graduation in Paris, I have done an internship in Dr Van Vactor’s lab on developmental biology during summer 2006. This was my first hands-on biology internship. I learned a lot and had a wonderful time. After all these years of studying science, I was finally able to see and realize what research is about. This experience convinced me to pursue my academic career. Then, I came back to France to complete a Master degree in Genetics and Biology where I had the opportunity to do other internships at Mount SInai School of Medicine (New York, NY, US) and at the Institut Curie (Paris, France) in infectiology and immunology, respectively. My first experience in Dr Van Vactor’s lab has definitely been an asset for me, expecially at this stage.
I then decided to pursue my academic career by doing a PhD at the Institut Curie (Paris, France) where I developped a project focused on gynecologic cancers and DNA damage. I am now working at the McGill University (Montreal, QC, Canada) in the Goodman cancer center as a postdoctoral fellow. My focus is on chemotherapy resistant breast cancers and tumor microenvironement.
During my career path I had the opportunity to work on different topics allowing to approach problems differently and to acquire multiple techniques."
- Tina Gruosso, Undergraduate Fellow in 2006