Name: Kyle Bledsoe
Class Year: 2024
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: Augusta, Ga.
Internship Organization: Bryn Mawr College Summer Science Research
Job Title: Chemistry Research Student
Location: Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Award: Bryn Mawr College Internship Fund
What’s happening at your internship?
At my internship, I’m in the lab every day studying the protein biochemistry of a version of the enzyme HMGR to better understand the underlying mechanisms behind its behavior. I’m doing this by using site-directed mutagenesis to mutate three amino acids we believe are important to the enzyme’s behavior to the amino acids on a different version of the enzyme that behaves differently. Eventually, I will characterize protein to see if, after making the mutations, the behavior aligns more with the version of the enzyme the amino acids were mutated to. I’ve already learned lots of techniques such as plasmid preparation and protein purification that allow me to do this, and later in the summer, I will learn to crystalize and kinetically characterize the protein to be able to assess its behavior.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for this internship because I wanted to learn more about research and whether it’s something I want to pursue further in college and as part of my career. I had always been intrigued by the prospect of research because I love learning, and I liked the idea of learning a lot about a specific topic, but I had never actually done it before, so I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I applied to outside research internships, but I knew that as a first year without any experience, it was unlikely that I would get any, so when I went to the Chemistry department’s research talks and heard that the professor whose research I found to be interesting had spots for the summer, I figured I would apply.
What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
One thing I have learned from this internship is how to fail, and I mean that in the best way possible. I, like many other students at Bryn Mawr, am not at all used to failing; in fact, most of us are used to succeeding, but research is all about failure. In research, you first have to fail in order to make progress and learn what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve failed a lot as a new researcher. I’ve done techniques incorrectly, made wrong decisions, and had to redo a lot of work. What I’ve learned though is that it is okay (and normal!) to fail and that what is important is that you learn from your mistakes and can do better the next time around.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
What has been most rewarding about my internship is seeing all the progress I’ve made in such a short amount of time. During the academic year, we spend our time spread out among four or five classes in addition to jobs or extracurriculars, so it’s been exciting to be able to focus on just one thing for the summer, and because of that, I’ve made so much progress even though I’ve only been researching for five weeks. Coming into this summer, I had no research experience. I had taken lab classes before, but I had no idea what actual research was like. Now, just five weeks later, I know how to do so many different techniques, and I’m able to make my own decisions about my research.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.