First Experience in Research in Auditory Neuroscience

Kehinde Adeaga, COL ’26, Hamilton, NJ

This past summer I had the opportunity to work as an Undergraduate Researcher in the Geffen Laboratory. It is a lab that broadly focuses on auditory neuroscience, a subject I was only slightly familiar with coming into the experience due to taking an intro neuroscience course. I began my time in the lab during my Spring semester. I spent that time shadowing my mentor and her current project, getting to know my way around the lab to gear up for my summer project. So, when mid-May came around, and I started the first day of my summer research experience, I knew my way around and had a sense of the environment of the lab. One less thing to be nervous about, thankfully, as I was already stressing myself out about how the summer would go seeing as it was my first time doing actual research ever.

I jumped right into my project on the first day. My research was focused on understanding adaptation to single-sided hearing loss and I had two main tasks—one being behavior. There was a huge learning curve with behavior that I can laugh about now looking back. To describe what it entailed, I had to train six different mice on a listening task. To do so, I had to place the mice into tubes in box-shaped booths: the location of the task. I had to touch the mice. I feel it is important to note that the only other time I had touched an animal (let alone a mouse) was at a one-day training session to get me on the protocol for this lab. Getting over my fear of touching the mice was my biggest challenge, honestly. However, it was something that I had to overcome since it was the main part of my project.

I practiced a lot with getting used to the mice. I had to weigh them before and after training, so I used that time to practice picking up the mice and just holding them in my hand for a couple of minutes. My mentor was also a great help with her encouraging presence. In the initial days, when I was very visibly uncomfortable and had to take a bit of time to even touch the mice, my mentor was super patient with me. Patience and time are exactly what I needed. And sure enough, throughout the summer, my hands stopped shaking at the thought of having to pick up a mouse. I was able to get very quick and efficient with placing my mice in the booth!

My second main task was more computer-based. To analyze the data I collected from doing behavior, I had to learn the programming language Python. Every day after running my behavior, I would go to my desk, pull out my laptop, and practice writing code. My mentor helped me with learning the basic commands, and then she gave me different projects and tasks to figure out. Plotting different types of graphs, making loops, and retrieving and converting files are some examples. Throughout my process of learning, I grew to really like coding. I find it so satisfying when I figure out the code of something I was having a challenging time with. It leaves with me a sense of accomplishment. I also enjoy the smaller, more manageable things like making a simple table. Just being able to create is fun.

Overall, I feel I have learned a lot over my summer experience in the lab. I acquired new skills and I have gained new perspectives. I even miss the mice I worked with during the two months. I can’t imagine the me from before this summer ever making and meaning that statement.

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