Wow, is it already over? These 5 weeks of TRIP flew by at light speed! However, I can confidently say that they were some of the most amazing, fun, and completely satisfying weeks of my entire life. Even when I felt tired, anxious, or apprehensive before a certain day of TRIP, I would leave feeling totally fulfilled. I feel lucky to have been under the instruction of the amazing Dr. Purdy, Ms. Pellegrin, and Dr. Gardiner, as well as the TA’s Erika, Pooja and Surali. These are some of the most hilarious, kind, and helpful people that I have ever met in my entire life. Even though I entered TRIP pretty sure that scientific research was what I wanted to pursue, this program solidified that into stone. I loved having freedom in the laboratory, putting in hours of work to get data, and then analyzing what the data was telling me. I also hugely enjoyed meeting and hanging out with all of my awesome classmates, and am leaving the program totally satisfied with the experience. It truly taught me that the lab is where I feel most comfortable.
As for my actual independent project, the results turned out to be quite interesting! I was testing the effects of alleged cognition/alertness/memory-enhancing drug Adrafinil in memory throughout development, and what I found ended up being the complete opposite of my hypothesis! Though I expected the drug to enhance short-term memory in my larvae and negatively affect memory in adults that had grown up constantly eating it, I found (through several grueling trials of the Adult Memory Assay) that my adults’ memory was perfectly fine! More concerning, however, is the fact that I found a pretty clear trend amongst my larvae’s memory: the higher the dose of Adrafinil, the worse their short-term memory! This finding absolutely stunned me, as Adrafinil is widely marketed as an almost magical supplement that makes you smarter, and I have heard several fellow high-school students express interest in it for exactly that reason! I’m sure that they would never have expected the exact opposite result, but now I’ll make sure to warn them that they’re perhaps better off doing their assignments uninfluenced by any kinds of supplements. Either way, I found collecting and analyzing my data to be an incredibly rewarding and interesting process, and the fact that the results directly contradicted my hypotheses somehow made them that much cooler!
All in all, I’m incredibly happy that I got to participate in this program, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat to any individual, whether are super interested in research, on the fence, or would never have expected themselves to even consider it, as it’s guaranteed that they will leave the program having gained something. I’m a bit afraid that the rest of my high school labs and science classes may pale in comparison to TRIP, as the independence and opportunities that were granted to me throughout it were uniquely satisfying and generous. Nevertheless, I will never forget these 5 weeks. A huge thanks to Dr. Purdy, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, and everybody else that helped make TRIP such an amazing experience for me!