My Summer in the Shin Lab

Klarissa Diaz, COL ’26, Houston, TX

Over the summer, I worked in Sunny Shin’s Immunology Lab for the Microbiology Department in the Perelman School of Medicine. I began working in her lab in October when I first came to Penn and continued working there until the school year ended. Although I was grateful for and enjoyed all the time I got to spend in the lab during the school year, I knew a summer dedicated to just research would benefit me more as I would not have to worry about making time between classes, homework, and studying to go into lab and get some hours logged in.

While in lab this summer, I worked alongside my mentor Ling Wu who is an MD/PhD Fellow of Penn Med. Together, we worked on the bacteria Legionella in order to better understand the interaction between this pathogen and its host, a lung cell. The way we did this was by infecting mice with the Legionella then later collecting tissue samples from those mice to examine the presence of immune cells which all depended on if these mice were successfully bred to have a specific immune signal receptor knocked out. This experiment was something that I carried over with me from the school year, and it did not take me too long into the summer to gather all the information I needed to be able to do a presentation.

After I finished up with that experiment which was mainly used to grow my understanding of the lab’s work, how the immune system works, and how it can be tested in experiments, I moved on to the experiment I worked on for the rest of the summer. Most of my time after was spent on exploring the importance of two different proteins on immune system signaling which were the Caspase 4 (CASP4) and Caspase 11 (CASP11) proteins. This experiment involved a lot of Western Blots, a lab technique that allows you to visualize proteins like CASP4 and CASP11, which I learned about while working during the school year and was able to run on my own over the summer as I had more time to troubleshoot and figure things out for myself.

Overall, I really enjoyed my summer experience. I got to live close to campus and not have to worry too much about personal expenses since Penn was generous enough to cover my cost of living there over the summer with a stipend. I was also able to bond more with the people in my lab through lab outings and celebrations. I was even able to make some close friends in the lab that I was able to go out with on the weekends and explore the city which I really don’t think I would have been able to do if not spending the summer in the lab. I learned so much from this experience about my lab’s work, the people I work with, and myself.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 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