Name: Daniel Sanchez-Mendoza
Internship, Co-op or Research Site: National Institute of Health, National Eye Institute, Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function Branch
Position Title: Summer Intern
Major(s)/Minor(s): Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Current Class Level: Sophomore
Work Term: Summer 2019
Tell us about your internship, co-op, or research opportunity, including your day-to-day responsibilities.
I was handling a temporary project looking into characterizing ZNF503 zebrafish mutants by CRIPSR CAS9 mutagenesis and identifying a viable male and female mutant to produce 100% mutant offspring. ZNF503 is a gene associated with optic coloboma, defects in eye development. Specifically, it causes the malformation of the optic fissure closure, which prevents a complete fusion of the optic cup that leads to blindness. My duties included setting up multiple breeding pairs on a weekly basis, collection of any embryos from the breedings, performing PCR to amplify the desired deletion mutation, and performing gel electrophoresis to identify any mutants and confirm whether the pair is viable to produce mutants. Afterwards, I set up some of the embryos for cryosectioning and, using those slides, I immunostained them with specific antibodies that are prevalent in the eye.
Describe the process of obtaining your position. When did you hear of the position and submit your application?
I heard about the internship last summer from my neighbor. He told me that the National Eye Institute has a DIVRO program focused on diversity in visual research and ophthalmology which sounded like an amazing opportunity for me. The application window ran throughout the winter where I applied sometime in February, and by late March I received an email with a position offer.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization?
Getting to know everyone at the branch and learning about the research that they have dedicated many years to. Much of this research has direct impact on human lives.
How do you believe you have made an impact through your work?
Although my work was preliminary, it has provided the foundation for further studies down the line.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
Reach out and get connections with people in the area of research that interests you. Look into the research that the Private Investigators are working on to get an idea of their work and show similar interest when you reach out. Also, fill out the application early to get a better chance of getting a position.
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