Summer Experiences: Grace, Lydia, and Matias

Some of our honors students had amazing summers as interns and research assistants! We asked a few of them to share their experience. Here’s what they had to say:

Grace Brubaker (junior 2020)
Interpretive Assistant at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

“As an interpretive assistant at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, I, as a part of a large team, engaged guests in conversation at many points during their visit to the zoo. We were stationed eight areas during the summer: Habitat hollow, Reptile Lab, Touchpool, Manatee Coast, Kangaroo Walkabout, Lorikeet Aviary, Asia Quest Aviary, and the Giraffe Shamba. We were responsible for engaging guests in conversation about the animals, interpreting animal behaviors, answering questions, encouraging curiosity, giving positive messages about conservation, and ensuring the safety of both guests and animals during their visit to the zoo.

My work at the Columbus Zoo this summer gave me a great deal of experience and confidence as a teacher and a public speaker. I learned a great deal about the animals I was working with as well as how an education program at a large zoo operates and how zoos are involved in conservation.

This was an incredibly valuable experience for me. Not only did I learn how to positively interact with the public in an educational and inspiring way, but I met many amazing, passionate, and knowledgeable people in the environmental and zoological fields. This was an amazing position and I am blessed to have been given this opportunity to learn and to teach others.”

Lydia Radcliffe (junior 2020)
Knox County Parks District

“My experience with the Park District was didactic, challenging, enjoyable, outdoorsy, and variable. Every day was different, although some tasks like monitoring bluebird boxes, surveying butterflies, and string trimming trails in the parks were consistently repeated. My responsibilities included wildlife surveys, public education, and park upkeep. I was able to gain valuable ground level experience in a variety of skills ranging from plant identification to operating a chainsaw to facilitating public education.

I hope to pursue opportunities in education and interpretation in my future career alongside conservation and restoration work, and the experiences I gained through this internship have been beneficial in encouraging me to pursue these areas.”

Matias Malkamaki(junior 2020)
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Undergraduate Research Program

“After a week of hands on lab experiences and lectures by researchers in the field of regenerative medicine, I was placed into a lab for which I worked the remaining two months of the summer. I was placed with the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopedic Surgery and Spine Research under the direction of my PI Dr. Nam Vo.

The Ferguson Lab focuses their research on the biochemical, clinical, and bio-mechanical aspects of studying inter-vertebral disk degeneration (IDD) and look to develop biological, bio-mechanical, and cell-based therapies for IDD.

Throughout my time in the lab, I was able to work on several projects. My three projects were:

  1. Improving rat behavioral study through increasing software understanding and expanding related hardware for recording rats in their home-cage environment,
  2. Testing the effect of Matrigel and 804G cell matrix on NP cell phenotype gown on monolayer culture, and
  3. Developing a technique for consistently injecting one microliter of solution into a rat tail disc.

These projects allowed me to comprehensively experience what biomedical research is. Throughout the summer I learned countless skills such as: sterile technique, cell culture of both human and animal cells, surgical and injection techniques, as well as scientific writing and presenting to name a few.

I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity and I would highly recommend the McGowan Institute to anyone interested in doing undergraduate research. ”

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