NSights Blog

A first week of fun and learning in a major Medical School lab

In a busy first week, undergraduate student Anjana Dissanayaka takes the first step toward one day attending graduate school

It is a chilly summer night, 10:46 p.m. on June 6, 2019 to be exact, and I am sitting at home doing what I do best, procrastinating.

Although I am still feeding into my unhealthy habits, this week has been nothing short of amazing thanks to (the) McNair (Scholars Program) and Dr. (David) AuCoin's research lab.

Most of this week was spent with McNair as it was orientation week for the summer research program. Our first day started with meeting up at 8 a.m. to get to Mt. Rose for a rope climbing course. The fact that the summer program started with that was amazing because not only did all of us students get closer than ever (we literally had each others' lives in our hands) but we also got to learn a lot of valuable life lessons from the rope course counselors.

The fun didn't stop there. On Wednesday, the McNair group went to downtown Reno to challenge ourselves in a Puzzle Room. We all got out before the time was up which was such a huge accomplishment for everyone.

What I love most about this program is that it brings so many amazing, fun, and intelligent individuals together. In just one week, I made more close friends than I did in my entire time here at the University. There is so much synergy in the entire group and it makes me so happy that I get to be a part of it. I'm excited to see what lies ahead for us.

Between those fun things, there was a lot of paperwork and fundamental research topics covered in a classroom setting. During the end of one of the classes, we got to search for potential graduate schools to apply to. I'm glad that I got into the McNair program as a sophomore because now I get to have a whole extra year to prepare for graduate school applications. I still have a lot of searching to do so I'm still unsure of where I want to go for grad school but it's all a work in progress.

On Friday I spent the whole day (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) in Dr. AuCoin's research lab. Since day one in Dr. AuCoin's research lab, I knew that I was extremely lucky to be there. Just the training itself was better than any research experience I've ever had before. The lab is so well established and the people there are so welcoming.

I'm currently working under a grad student named Chelsea. Chelsea is teaching me how to use monosized magnetic particles to bind to specific antibodies in order to combat the issue of large ranges of antigen present in a given sample. I'm learning a lot from Chelsea and I'm excited for next week since I am now prepared for more hands-on work. From now on, I will be doing research almost every weekday so tune in next time for the inside scoop on all that.

(Editor's note: This is the first in a semi-regular series this summer detailing undergraduate research opportunities at the University.)

Anjana Dissanayaka
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