This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Bianca Owusu, COL ’20
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory of the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. I had originally been looking for a research assistant position for the summer. However, I did not have any true laboratory experience or the proper training to work in a research setting at the time. The veterinary microbiology laboratory offered me the chance to learn the skills I would need to be successful in an investigative laboratory. Taking advantage of this opportunity allowed me to explore my potential career options. Pursuing a career in research is something I have always wanted to do. Since I did not have any prior exposure to the different fields, I was not really sure what discipline I wanted to be a part of. Although I had worked in the microbiology section of the clinical diagnostic laboratory, I was exposed to the other disciplines. Since many of the samples required various tests from these other laboratories, collaborations were very frequent. The clinical pathology and cytology laboratory was responsible for conducting hematological and cytological analyses. The parasitology laboratory was tasked with the detection and the identification of parasites in the animals we received the samples from. Requests for biopsies and post mortem examinations were sent to the histopathology laboratory. Luckily, I got to experience a sampling of what each laboratory section had to offer while working at Ryan Veterinary Hospital this summer.
There was a daily routine for the clinical microbiology laboratory. Each day, we would walk in and put on our lab coats. One of us would have to check the CRISPR in the fridge for any samples that had been placed there overnight. We would also do rounds and make sure that the laboratory was stocked with all the necessary materials and media. Batch numbers would be double checked to ensure that the media was in good condition. Next, we would read the plates and record the findings. After recording the findings, we would confirm the diagnosis through a VITEK machine. This summer experience also taught me a lot about the importance of organization in laboratory management. I was trained to use the hospital’s accessioning system. This was helpful in keeping track of all the tests the laboratory was running, printing notes, taking notes, and sending final reports to the veterinarians.
The funding I received from Career Services allowed me to learn so much about myself and the field I eventually want to go into. Working in the laboratory was a major hands on experience. I learned a lot by working under the guidance of the laboratory director and my more-experienced coworkers. In addition to learning about lab procedures and diagnostic test running, I learned what it meant to be a part of a dynamic team. It was an open environment in which questions were encouraged and mistakes were accepted as opportunities for learning. I am very grateful I got to be involved in an eye-opening experience.