A Summer of Plants

Reginald Kwarteng, COL ’25, Bronx, NY

I am Reginald Kwarteng, a rising sophomore at Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences, and I am currently planning to major in Biology. During the semester, I have had the chance to participate in Dr. Doris Wagner’s Lab at Penn’s Department of Biology, researching plant genetics with my mentor, Dr. Sarah Matar.

In the small breaks I had between classes, I would come and set up PCR reactions, perform gel electrophoresis, and try to understand the basis of my project; however, like the bands of DNA found on agarose gel, my understanding of our research topic was fragmented. There were so many lab techniques I wanted to learn how to do, but I had such little time.

This summer at Penn, Career Services has supported my aspirations to conduct research full-time at the Wagner lab over the past summer. This experience has been a lot to take in at once, but it has brought me closer to the ideas communicated in my research lab, and broadened my understanding of research not only in my lab but in other labs and respective topics as well.

Over the summer, I continued progress on my research project of understanding the functional analysis of intron II of transcription factor LFY in Arabidopsis thaliana through site-directed mutagenesis using CRISPR. But it was not only exciting to produce new data, but it was interesting to expand on even more lab techniques that I have learned from the spring semester: bacterial transformation, cloning, restriction digests, genotyping, fluorescent expression, and much more.

In addition to learning these techniques, I learned the rationale behind using these techniques to supplement my understanding of my research project. I also got to work closely on projects other than my own with my mentor and even designed my own primers in a cloning project with another transcription factor known as TSF. It was extremely rewarding to witness experiments occur from start to finish under the guidance of my mentor and PI. With the deeper knowledge I have gained from this summer, I have effectively been able to communicate ideas concerning my project to others in the lab, and gained confidence in my scientific prowess.

Overarching the scientific knowledge that I have learned, I am grateful for the life experiences that this opportunity has provided me as well. This summer was the first time I have worked full-time, and built on my self-esteem, responsibility, independence, perseverance, and resiliency, as a result of learning to become accustomed to doing research full-time.

Upon reflection on my time in research over the summer, I feel invigorated to pursue science as a career choice. I have made many strides to grow professionally, academically, and personally, and I cannot be more thankful for the time I have spent in the lab. I will continue my research on my project in the Wagner lab next year and build upon the knowledge obtained throughout the summer thanks to Career Services, my mentor, Dr. Sarah Matar, my fellow lab members, and my PI, Dr. Doris Wagner.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services