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Biology major Colleen Fitzpatrick ’04 (Springfield, Pa.) worked with some of the latest medical technology this summer during an internship at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood, Pa.

Lasting from June 3-July 26, the internship complemented Fitzpatrick’s experiences in Lafayette biology laboratories.

“Lafayette’s small student-faculty ratio gives the student a major advantage compared to a large university,” she says. “Every professor in my lab classes has been able to give me, as well as my classmates, the individual attention we need to succeed in lab and in lecture.”

Fitzpatrick found out about the internship through the Job Vault program offered by Lafayette’s Career Services. She learned how to perform many different types of experiments, focusing on the Western Blotting technique.

“The lab I was working in was trying to determine why cells age,” she says. “We examined the differences between young and senescent (old) cells by observing different concentrations of proteins using the Western Blot Technique. In the first few weeks of my internship, I was carefully monitored by my mentor, Claudio Torres Ph.D. However, as I became more familiar with the procedure, I was able to perform experiments by myself.”

At the end of the internship, Fitzpatrick presented her data to the entire institute.

“I had the opportunity to run my own experiments and use many instruments of the latest technology while working in a real lab environment,” she notes. “I learned that most of the time, when you think an experiment will work one way, the result will be the exact opposite. But when you do get the results you were hoping for, it’s a great feeling.”

While Fitzpatrick has not settled on a career path, she is considering graduate school or medical school.

“The internship definitely showed me what daily life in a lab would be like,” she says. “It was also helpful to talk to all the people in lab to hear about their personal experiences.”

A member of the women’s basketball team, Fitzpatrick is a peer mentor, helping first-year student athletes get adjusted to college through workshops focusing on time management, note-taking and reading, and exam preparation. “We also meet individually with first-year student athletes who are having academic difficulty and try to get them back on the right foot,” she says.

Categorized in: Academic News