What a time it’s been! Some quick notes about my accomplishments during the past five weeks: I’ve learned more about fruit flies than I could ever have expected to in a lifetime, I’ve said the words “gut bacteria” about 263 times, and I can’t take any pictures on my cellphone at the moment because I’ve filled my storage with videos of my flies exploring 55 mm petri dishes. In all seriousness, though, I think I’ve gained some invaluable knowledge and experience by participating in the program, and I can’t wait to see how I’ll use it during my future endeavors.
Prior to participating in the TRIP initiative, I was a little apprehensive about quite a few things. I knew I would soon be developing an independent project, but I kept wondering -- would I be able to create an interesting one? Would my project be impressive? Would I be able to successfully carry it out? I guess in the midst of my concern, I overlooked the fact that I’d soon be immersed in such a supportive and fulfilling scientific environment, led by instructors who put immense effort into helping their students succeed, and filled with fellow students who are equally supportive and entertainingly frazzled. My concerns left me as soon as I entered the lab for the first time, and I was able to face every challenge with an open mind and an excited outlook.
As far as how my independent project went, the results were pretty interesting, and were not what I expected. In testing the effects of quercetin (found in quinoa) and açaí berry extract on fly activity and the gut microbiome in order to explore the science of superfoods, it turns out that while high concentrations of quercetin and low concentrations of açaí extract produce more active flies, low concentrations of quercetin and high concentrations of açai extract yield a more diverse gut microbiome. If I could do the experiment over again, I think I’d like to test a wider variety of concentrations of the different superfood representatives in order to get a better idea of how these trends play out. I came up with the idea for this project as a result of my interest in how health claims about certain foods, when combined with advertising and social media, can lead to these foods becoming immensely popular trends in our diets. At the conclusion of the project, I think I can say that while some of these trends are pushed on the public to quite the extreme extent, these claims aren’t based on nothing. Activity and bacteria diversity were improved with the superfoods!
By the end of this program, I think my skills regarding designing an experiment and facing challenges throughout the process have considerably improved. I also really appreciate the experience I’ve gained with the communications aspect of the program, where I had the opportunity to create a graphical abstract representing my project. While learning how to use Google Drawings was quite the hassle, I’m certainly grateful for the opportunity to learn more about communicating scientific concept and discoveries to the public. In addition to gaining skills regarding design, communication, and implementation of an experiment as a result of this program I can’t leave out the fact that I’ve met some really great people along the way -- and I’m excited to see what they achieve in the future! I can’t think of a more fulfilling way to have spent my summer, and I’m so glad to have gotten this opportunity.
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!
My project so far has been very awesome. I just finished doing the experimentation last Thursday. Now I am preparing for the symposium. Now, a little about my project. I tested the effects on the fruits fly fertility after giving them painkillers. I also tested the social behavior of the offspring. It was been kinda stressful to understand the data at first, but it has become much easier.
This program has been so awesome for me. I am very grateful for this amazing opportunity. I’ve met so many great people, including my classmates and mentors. I’ve also learned so much. I never expected that would learn about comics. One very important aspect of TRIP is that you understand how to work in a research lab. You get experience through an assigned experiment. Then all the amazing mentors help you create your own project. It is awesome! The program is amazing, and if you get the chance to be apart of it, do not miss it!
Hi everyone! As my summer at TRIP is finally coming to an end, it is amazing to see how much I’ve learned in just 5 weeks. I met so many adults that will have an impact on my career path in the future, and have made friends that have shaped me in numerous ways. There’s so much I’ll take away from this program, and it’s unlike any other experience I’ve had in high school.
My independent project was originally based on how antibiotics affect microbiome diversity (gut bacteria), however, I decided I wanted to dig in deeper; I decided that I would also want to study female fertility as certain studies show there may be a negative impact on fertility if one consumes antibiotics. Therefore, I compared the gut bacteria and female fertility of fruit flies exposed to antibiotics at two different levels-- flies that were barely exposed to antibiotics and progeny that were raised with antibiotics at all times. I tested three different antibiotics, which were Bactrim, Cipro, and Penicillin/Streptomycin (Pen/Strep). I found that Pen/Strep decreased the microbiome diversity significantly more than Cipro and Bactrim, which I was surprised by. Pen/Strep also had a significantly higher embryos/female ratio, meaning it expedited fertility as compared to control conditions. I found this piece of data very interesting due to the fact that Pen/Strep is one of the most commonly used and accessible combination of antibiotics in the world. It made me question how much I really knew about antibiotics and how little we know about the drugs and medicine we consume. Additionally, I thought it was great that we were free to conduct as many or whatever assays we wanted to, which allowed us to shape our independent project in ways we never thought of. Originally, I planned on only doing the microbiome assay, but then I realized I wanted to learn so much more. Over the course of the entire independent project, I conducted the female fertility and microbiome assay a total of 12 times!
Although my five weeks at TRIP are over, I am still collecting data and working to take away the most information possible. This program was an amazing opportunity, as I got to meet other kids with similar interests with me, and had three instructors that were also really passionate about STEAM. We were given freedom with how we conducted our independent projects, but we were also given the structure to learn and become the self-directed learners we are now. Other than the specific facts I learned about antibiotics during this summer, I learned what it may be like to work in a lab. I learned why multiple trials are important, how to utilize time efficiently, and truly understand how your surroundings can skew your data. We were constantly working to make sure we get everything done, and were fully immersed into STEAM during the 10 days we spent there. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to become apart of the TRIP family--I loved every minute of TRIP!
These past few weeks in TRIP have been busy ones. Between doing experiments, data analysis, and development counting, it was cool to actually perform the things that the instructors had helped us design. My independent project has focused mainly on the effect of lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, and how it can be used to counteract DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation (UV).
I performed two assays: the Larval Locomotion and Memory Assay.
In all honesty, I found the locomotive assay to be my least favorite of the two. The purpose of it was to see how each lycopene and UV affected the activity and ability to move aof the larvae. It was really simple to perform. The memory assay was fun to set up and carry out, even though there was a lot of waiting.
Overall, the TRIP experience has been really great and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to meet new people and try and learn new things. It’s given me a better understanding of how I work and allowed me to understand the aspects that I need to work the most on when it comes to my work process. I’m sad to see that it has to end but all good things must come to an at some point, right? I’ll always remember my experience with TRIP and the things I’ve learned.
Wow, 5 weeks has passed in a blur! I feel like it was literally just yesterday when I was meeting all of these people, and introducing myself. Yet strangely, so much has happened since then. Not only did we quickly all familiarize ourselves with each other, we have also just completed lab work and research for our independent research projects. My independent project centered around Parkinson’s Disease and its effect on the microbiome. Since Omega 3 is meant to decrease inflammation in inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s is an inflammatory neurodegenerative disease, I figured it would help the microbiome, and help alleviate symptoms from the Parkinsonism.
For my independent project, I performed two assays: the negative geotaxis assay and the microbiome test. The negative geotaxis assay was a lot of tedious work, such as sorting with ice and running the risk of condensation drowning flies, and running through all your vials 7 times everyday during lab, however the assay produced a lot of useful results. For example, the negative geotaxis assay told me numerically just how far the average fly from each vial travelled, and it was easy for me to produce graphs that visually displayed my results too. At first glance, the microbiome assay looked difficult with all the different materials used to culture the bacteria. Really, all of the complicated stuff is to make sure that no other types of bacteria outside of their gut microbiome gets into your sample and contaminates it. In simple terms, the microbiome assay requires sterilizing the outside of your flies, smashing the bodies into tiny pieces in certain amounts of broth that helps culture bacteria, then diluting that solution, and dripping it onto an agar plate so you can isolate colonies and grow them in the incubator. To quantify your colonies, you look at color, shape and size to distinguish different species and types of bacteria. Both of these assays were honestly a lot of fun, and though there were frustrations and failures along the way, I’m really glad I used these two for my project.
After five sessions, the results of the assay is that Omega 3 ALONE greatly boosts the flies’ activity and motility in the negative geotaxis assay, and also helps diversify the microbiome. However, when Omega 3 is combined with the Paraquat, as in flies with Parkinsonism also take the drug, they are much more likely to die and perform even poorer on the negative geotaxis test than the flies who were treated with only Paraquat. The flies treated with paraquat also had lower amounts of bacteria and less diversity in the microbiome. This brings up more questions that beg for more research such as… should people with Parkinson’s limit their intake on foods with Omega 3? Could looking at the microbiome and how it is affected by Parkinson’s lead to better treatment for those affected or a cure?
TRIP has clearly given me extensive knowledge of research and flies, and a broader perspective in the general field of science. However, despite the focus of this program being the flies, and how to treat them, we’ve gained something more invaluable: we’ve learned how to be curious, courteous scientists. We understand how to behave in a real life work or lab scenario, and we have formed bonds with people who will likely lead our society to big things in the future. We know how to ask questions, be professional, and have taken great steps in public speaking. Most importantly, we have been shown the true purpose of science: it’s asking important questions that may improve people’s lives, and presenting this in a way that others may understand it. Because of TRIP, I can truly see my future ending up intertwined with science and research.
After testing the effects of Sertraline (Zoloft) on flies for the past couple of weeks through the centrophobism assay, I finally had my data and was able to come to a conclusion. It seemed that gender did end up making a difference drug effectiveness. In the Centrophobism Assay, I observed that the males flies crossed the center more often than the females exposed to the same dosage, suggesting the anxiety of the male flies decreased to a significantly higher degree than that of the females. Zoloft was also found to increase activity levels, as flies who consumed higher amounts of Sertraline were found to spend more time moving than those with exposed to less drug. The females required higher dosages than the males in order to become as active as them. This could be due to the fact that the females are larger than the males and thus require more of the drug to experience the same effects. If so, this would probably translate to humans in that males, as they are typically larger than females, would require higher dosages of Sertraline than females to experience the same effects.
Conducting these assays was very intriguing, as it was interesting to see the data come together and understand the effects of the drug, which I had been wondering about for weeks. I ended up partially disproving my hypothesis, as although I had predicted the drug to be more effective in reducing female anxiety, I had predicted that it would decrease activity when it actually ended up increasing activity.
Furthermore, not only did I enjoy conducting my research, but I also had a blast with a bunch of new friends that I made through this program. Coming from many different schools, it was neat to see us all become great friends and have so much fun together. From trying and filming many challenges (and failing) to racing one another (or just watching), we made memories that we will all cherish for a long time. It was super neat to get to know one another, as well as the fabulous instructors we had. Thank you so much to Dr. Purdy, Miss P., Dr. Gardiner, Pooja, and Surali for teaching us so much, challenging us, and being super supportive. Thank you also to my wonderful new friends; I wish you all the best!
Wow, how quickly 5 weeks can go by. It feels like just yesterday when the 8 of us were just meeting over a modified game of ice-breaker bingo. Although it was sad to realize that our last TRIP class ended, it's fascinating just to imagine how my peers, including myself, will apply this experience when we enter the adult world over the course of the next few years. Anyway, I’m not going to spend anymore time talking about the future, because I got a lot of data I need to analyze, ASAP.
With the symposium right around the corner, I am in the process of finalizing my presentation, which means I have to analyze the colossal amount of data I have collected over the past couple of weeks. I am studying the effects of artificial sweeteners, in specific sucralose found in Splenda, on the overall health of fruit flies. My questions about what I wanted to analyze has morphed over the last couple of research sessions, starting with obesity and ending with activity and metabolism. Next step? Finding out what my data means!
With the program coming to an end, I have spent a little time reflecting on the journey TRIP has taken me on for the better part of my summer. I started off with very minimal out-of-school lab experience; I didn’t even know what a micropipette was, let alone how to use it. But, as soon as the program began, I knew that this would be the place to help foster my passion for science. All the instructors, including the TAs, were there to help me and my peers around every corner. They didn’t just give me the answers to my questions, though; they made me think about how I could approach a solution, and if I was not on the right track, they would guide me there with little hints along the way. This taught me that not all the answers you are looking for are right in front of you, and that problem solving can be the key to unlocking those answers. All in all, I am very grateful for this program, as it has taught me how to become better at something I didn’t even know I enjoyed.
Hello again, it's Lataviya. So far TRIP has been absolutely wonderful especially since I have a strong interest in science. My time at TRIP taught me that mistakes can be turned into lessons especially in a laboratory or anything related to science, I learned that I like working with my hands, and that I hate feeling as if I am disorganized.
But anyway, after me and others did a practice experiment, I worked on my independent project. My project is focused on studying the effect of coffee on fruit flies. I wanted to figure out how different doses of coffee effects female fertility and activity of male flies. The reason why I ended up testing coffee was because I happen to drink coffee right before school starts so that I will decrease the chance of me falling asleep in class. Since I really care about my fertility rate and how coffee affects that I wanted to see if there was any type of negative or positive reaction from coffee in fertility. After doing 3 trials of the experiment I ended with having a decrease in fertility as I go up on dosage of coffee. To narrow it down, a few cups of coffee decreases your fertility rate (the number of embryos laid).
After this experiment, I kept track of how much coffee i consume, so now I won't drink coffee as much I did before. As much as I love coffee I would still have to care about my health especially if I care so much about my fertility rate.
Well we have reached the conclusion of our individual experimentation and I can confidently say that this lab experience has been one of the most informative experiences for me. Functioning in a lab goes far beyond the correct operation of micropipettes and weighing scales. To succeed in the lab, you have to manage a plethora of responsibilities through organization, time-management, discipline, focus, and clarity of mind. Especially in a lab setting, where quantities, biology, and chemistry are in play, mistakes cannot afford to be made. Before suiting up in a lab coat and goggles, I’ve learned that the planning of an experiment and proper development of ideas is 90% of the effort.
In truth, I should have approached my planning far more thoroughly than I did, expanding even more on my prior research and daily activities. Only through the effective guidance of my mentors and incessant notes/logs in my notebook did I manage to keep everything afloat till the end. But in professional research settings, in universities and institutions, planning and research are the most integral facets of research. This principle extends far beyond the life sciences. Research conducted in every field follows the notion that planning should never be underestimated. For a long time, I have trusted myself with organization and planning but this research experience has taught me that no amount of preparation is too much.
To conclude the weeks long discussion on my experiment, I have also learned that the outcomes of an experiment may not always perfectly align with your hypothesis. But that’s okay. After an experiment, the only thing that matters is that you have reached viable conclusions on a research question that you have decided to pursue. And I am far from disappointed with my results. For minds like mine, which feel inclined to try anything and everything impulsively, I now have the wisdom and experience to caution us to slow down and logically think things through. Despite partaking in science fairs for a number of years, I never had the chance to work with such knowledgeable mentors and aides like those I have had here at TRIP. Years of working in labs and living in the world of science have given them a new intuition and sixth sense about their disciplines and this knowledge is invaluable to the rising generation of scientists and academics.