My time in the TRIP program has flown by. I met and got to know talented scientists. I made friends with like-minded peers. I discovered a ton about working in a laboratory, about how science works, about how scientists think, and about myself! During the program, I not only learned about the logistics of how to make solutions, create drug stocks, and conduct assays, but also how to think insightfully about critical questions and how to collaborate with colleagues. While working on my project, I realized that working in a lab comes along with many challenges and that these challenges are often the catalysts of discovery. The TRIP initiative program has absolutely given me a new perspective!
For my independent project, I chose to investigate the influence of diet and exercise on fruit fly behavior. Compliance with a healthy diet and maintenance of a consistent exercise regimen is a life-long challenge for many. I wanted to investigate if diet and exercise provided positive or additive benefits to fruit fly energy level. To accomplish this task, I set up 6 different vials of flies exposed to different diets (Normal Fly Food, Healthy Fly Food, and Unhealthy Fly Food). Two sets of fly vials received each diet. One of each of the two vials was also exposed to exercise, while the other one was not. How in the world does one exercise a fly!? Well, since flies have a natural tendency to climb against gravity, I was able to harness this instinct and have the flies climb constantly by continuously knocking them to the bottom of a vial using a novel customized experimental apparatus that I designed. After quite a bit of trial and error, I created a contraption out of a food mixer, speed control modulator, and a bingo ball cage. A video of this “fruit fly” is below. The flies were exercised daily for 30 minutes. As I write this, I am actively collecting data and am very excited to analyze the results of my experiments.
During the program, I not only learned about the logistics of how to make solutions, create drug stocks, and conduct assays, but also how to think insightfully about critical questions and how to collaborate with colleagues.
I greatly enjoyed my time in the TRIP program, as I was able to learn so many new things and meet fantastic people. I am especially appreciative of all that I learned from Dr. Leystra, Dr. Purdy, and the TAs-- who are kind, patient, and engaging teachers. The TRIP scientists helped me and other students not only get through roadblocks we encountered during our independent projects, but also understand the scientific process and the challenges that scientists often face. The experience has taught me that although science does not always go as planned, it is thrilling and stimulating. Thank you TRIP for opening a window into a world that will absolutely help shape my future career goals!