Biomedical Internships: A Week with EQO (Noonan) and the South Austin Senior Activity Center (Perla) AND Dell Seton (Keji)


My experience as a Biomedical junior intern was incredibly fun and helped me realize what I want to do in the future. These posts are my reflection of the time I spent there and what I did for that week. 


Monday 2-10-20 (scroll down for the week)


Today was Madison and my first day. John Higley and Emily Carpenter were our connections and they are a startup company working in creating a chimeric protein that will target Zebra mussels, an invasive species taking over Ladybird Lake and other water sources in Austin. 


First, we learned that the protein and toxin used to target and kill the mussels come from antibodies produced by rats from their immune system. They then take that antibody and insert it into a cancer cell to mass-produce the antibody. But the company wants to take that DNA and insert it into an alga that will suck carbon dioxide from the air and produce more oxygen while also eradicating the mussel population. So the next step is to take the DNA from the cancer cell and shove it into bacteria colonies to acquire the targeted DNA sequence. However, there are variations of the DNA sequence so testing has to be done on the colonies to find which have the targeted sequence. That is what we did today.


For our hands-on lab,  we first counted how many veligers (baby zebra mussels) there were per 100 cells. We made plaids with the DNA floating around so we had to heat up the plasmids called Cosmart (a special kind of bacteria that doesn’t fall apart in heat because its found in boiling springs) so the DNA would enter the cells. We went to lunch at a Korean restaurant, a great part of the day. Later we took bacteria colonies and scraped them into the solution we made to later find which had the desired DNA sequence. Then we created the gel and used electrolysis to show the bands. Madison had 3 samples with the targeted variations, and I had six with the desired sequence. I messed up one of my samples because I incorrectly added solution to the wrong test tube. There were a lot of small mistakes but it was hands-on lab work which was really fun.

Wednesday 2-12-20

Am tired. We doing bullet points

We got our antibodies to bind to our veligers! After adding .4 g of low fat powdered milk to the procedure as a buffer to stop nonspecific binding, the samples showed green fluorescent glowing WITHIN the veligers meaning that it was binding to the inside tissues and not the outside.

We ran more PCR DNA assay, and we did it more independently without Emily. WE GROWING UP. We are getting close to getting 10 bacteria colonies with the desired DNA sequence to produce the anti-mussel antibodies. John showed us off while we looked confused.

MR HIENEMEN came and visited us! He checked in and we were doing science when he came and he was super proud of us. Emily said she was proud of us as well! It was a good day. We got results and we got visited by a teacher.

Friday 2-14-20

TODAY WAS THE LAST DAY! It was so sad, we sat and talked to Emily and John. They talked about their past career in music and touring in a punk band. They opened up about themselves and their past non-science life. We practice our presentation and set up shop in the conference room.

We presented to Emily. John, Ms. Schnautz, and Ms. Sanders. It went on for over an hour because John and Emily were asking questions during the presentation but it was good because they were checking our knowledge. It was a good presentation and everyone was proud of us which was nice. Ms. Sanders and Emily and John were science-ing out over the senior’s projects.

John took us all (including Ms. Sanders) out for sushi. It was pretty great and a good time to talk casually outside of the lab. Emily and John gave us professional and personal life advice about being an adult, working with others and loving ourselves.

We got done with lunch at 12:30 and said our goodbyes. It was sad to leave but a great learning experience.


Perla Espinoza Martinez Internship experience 


Today was my first day being an intern at the South Austin Senior Citizen Activity Center. I didn’t know what to expect as I walked into the building but since I was an hour early I had to wait before I knew what exactly I was going to work on for the week. As I waited I took a look around the center and they had a lot of activities for the seniors such as pool tables, and exercise machines, and lots of games. The staff was very welcoming and kind as soon as I got there they offered me snacks as well as coffee. When Maria and Abigail showed up which are the other two girls that were going to be doing the internship with me we had a meeting with Kelly and Maria which were the ones that were in charge of us. They talked to us on how the week was going to be and what we would be working on, they mentioned a lot of crafts as well as this project we would work on for the week. When the meeting ended they gave us our first job which was to untangle and sort necklace beads, we worked on that the whole morning. The beads were for the Mardi Gra party they were having for the seniors, we just pulled them out of the boxes and sorted them out by color, it wasn’t a very hard job but it was time-consuming so it kept us busy.  After we finished sorting all the beads we helped serve lunch. Our first interaction with the seniors was when we were serving lunch they were very nice they explained how we needed to wash our hands and wear gloves. Then they told us that after serving we put the dining cloth in the washing machine, they were very kind. It seemed like a very nice community it kinda reminded me a bit of school since they all have their own little group of friends and the cafeteria and before they get their lunch the staff do announcements on what’s going on during the week and everything just seemed so similar to school.

After announcements the seniors line up and get their lunch I was in charge of passing out fruit, Maria was in charge of giving out milk, and Abby was in charge of giving out bread. As we were passing out the food they asked us who we were with and we said we were interns for the week from Ann Richards most of them smiled and said thank you and it made me really happy to help out. Afterward, we finished serving we helped clean up and then it was time for our lunch break. After we ate we came back and we had an hour left for the day. Since they didn’t have more work for us they said we could do line dancing with the seniors since they had a class going on and we could join them. When we went in they had already started and everyone was really good, the steps were very simple but I still couldn’t keep up. There was this lady in front of me who was really good and she was moving really fast, to me it seemed that she is or was a dancer since she was very coordinated and always pointed her feet. When I barely started getting the hang of the dance that’s when we changed to a whole group dance and that was really fun because we all did this step where we all walk to the middle and high five both of our hands with the people across from us then we walk back and then we go the middle and switch sides. I really enjoyed it was a lot of fun and everyone was very nice and gave us tips when we didn’t know the steps I really liked my first day.


Today was the day we were going to start on our project for the week and it was also a chance for us to interact more with the seniors. Kelly is the boss there and she explained our project was going to be about older Americans months and how they give back to their community our job was to interview the seniors and get a one to two sentence quote about how they give back to their community as well as take their picture, we spent time first just coming up with questions and they were pretty self forward. The questions were “tell us about yourself?” and so on. Justin is one of the employees and he helped us find seniors to interview we first started with one of the ladies that we’re at the front desk. We first introduced ourselves and explained how we were interns for the week and then we asked her to tell us about herself. It was really interesting knowing about her life especially from a much more older person who has gone through many different things.

She told us how she lived in Florida for most of her life but then moved to Texas for her kids, it was an interesting story as well as sad. The thing that I remember the most was when she said that she knows she’s a bit older but that she still feels young and attractive but when she looks in a mirror she doesn’t even recognize herself, she says that she doesn’t expect this old woman in the mirror because she doesn’t feel old. That made me feel sad because I have never thought of that before, I’ve gone through the idea of getting older but not on how it actually feels when it happens or how your appearance changes a lot than when you were young. She was a very kind woman and I enjoyed hearing her story. We spent the rest of our day interviewing and interacting with the seniors. There were some seniors that didn’t say as much as others but one interview that I loved hearing was this couple that are regular participants in the center. 

They are inseparable they are always together but it is a sad story since Rebecca has dementia and Rick takes care of her all the time and it can get overwhelming for him. He told us how she was a nurse and she loved her job and he didn’t get a very far education so he had to work a lot, they have 9 kids and what was really interesting was that they had two sets of twins one boy and one girl. There were so many more very interesting stories about everyone’s life. They also gave very good advice I really am learning a lot in my internship.

Keji Jurkin at Dell Seton Hospital


Today had to be the wildest day of the internship. After the daily debrief with Lauren and Dena, we went out into our assigned departments. I shadowed Brin’s first meeting of the day, which was with Donald, who was the Safety Officer for the hospital. He made sure that the departments were in compliance with safety standards, and during the meeting, he shared with Brin updates on the departments she oversaw.

I went down to the Equipment management and I met Kelvin and James who were technicians. James and I went down to the Emergency Department and toured an empty trauma room and he showed me the tools present and how they can be used. Thereafter, I went down to the lobby and met Donald and managers of other departments for EOS rounds. EOS rounds are when the managers of departments do a sweep of a hospital floor and make sure it is up to standards. Harold, who works in EVS, did an ATP test of a room to make sure it was clean, and it was really interesting to watch. I returned back to the Executive Administration office and Alex, the radiology manager took me down to the Emergency Department. We witnessed a trauma patient come in and the doctors doing the x-ray and prepping an operation. Alex and I went back upstairs and attended a meeting.

During the meeting, there was a code pink alert(missing infant) and code gray(an individual with a weapon) that occurred somewhere in the hospital. It was really cool to witness the craziness of the hospital setting, and it was my favorite part of the day. The last part of my day was listening to Katie, the nursing manager, and Valerie, from diversity and workforce development. Tomorrow will be the last day of internships, we will tour the Emergency Department and the Operating Room, and give our final presentations.