Summer Intern Excels in Varga Lab


Wednesday, October 25, 2017
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Ali Gannon brought her enthusiasm to Dr. Krisztina Varga's lab in summer 2017.

Made up of a passionate community of educators and researchers, The UNH Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences (MCBS) prides itself on a tradition of outreach and inclusive research involving stakeholders from throughout the New Hampshire community. In keeping with this ethos, Dr. Krisztina Varga spent her summer guiding high school intern Alexandra Gannon through a successful and rewarding 2017 summer internship. In Ali’s own words, “It was one of the best experiences of my life!”

A senior at Sanborn High School enrolled in the Seacoast School of Technology’s (SST) Biomedical Science and Technology program, Ali spent her summer internship hard at work in Dr. Varga’s lab researching antifreeze and polar organizing proteins. Working both independently and in conjunction with graduate students, Ali gained valuable hands-on experience preparing antifreeze protein for analysis by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and interpreting complex 3-dimensional NMR spectra of the polar organizing protein. These newly developed skills will doubtless prove highly valuable for Ali, who now plans to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

Ali’s summer internship experience culminated in a poster session at the Seacoast School of Technology on October 5th, where Ali shared research experiences from throughout her summer in Dr. Varga’s lab. One of several MCBS professors to open her lab to high school interns in summer 2017, Dr. Varga provided the type of critical early mentorship that has become a hallmark of the department. Outstanding outreach, be it a single summer intern gaining new skills in a university facility or a large institution partnering with university programs, is a primary reason that the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences continues to draw top applicants, students, and researchers from around the world.

Of her experience mentoring Ali, Dr. Varga says, “My group really enjoyed having Ali in the lab. It was very exciting to watch her gain new skills over the summer and grow into a budding scientist. Having her in the lab helped me and the graduate students to become better teachers and learn how to communicate complex ideas. I would love to have another high school intern in the group again next summer, especially one as talented and passionate about science as Ali, and I encourage high school students who are excited about science to try hands-on research. It is much more fun than any textbook learning!”

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