Summer Internships: Kyle Bledsoe '24
Name: Kyle Bledsoe
Class Year: 2024
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: Augusta, GA
Internship Organization: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Job Title: University Outreach Summer Program Intern
Location: Houston, TX
What’s happening at your internship?
I just finished my internship earlier this week! I spent ten weeks in Houston working in a translational research lab at MD Anderson. The lab focuses on miRNAs, which are small non-coding RNAs (RNAs that do not turn into proteins), and their role in cancer. I was matched with a mentor in the lab who is a post-doctoral student, and I completed an independent research project. My project focused on differentiating monocytes, a type of immune cell, into M1 macrophages, which are cells that can inhibit tumor growth, and measured the expression level of different markers and miRNAs associated with M1 macrophages. At the end of the internship I prepared an abstract, poster, and elevator speech and presented my work at a poster presentation.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied to this internship for a couple of different reasons. The first reason I applied is because Bryn Mawr has a partnership with MD Anderson that guarantees two students spots in this program every year. Research internships can be especially competitive; knowing that there would be two students earning spots in the program, I knew that this would give me a good shot at getting a research internship for the summer. Secondly, this internship provided an opportunity to engage in translational or clinical research in addition to basic science research. I had always been interested in translational or clinical research, but Bryn Mawr only offers basic science research. I knew that the summers would be the best time to get involved in this sort of work and having that opportunity at a prestigious cancer center would be a great experience.
What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?
The specific lab that I was at for my internship, the lab of Dr. George Calin, is mostly made up of international students. The only people from America were all the summer interns! This was a really great experience because it allowed me to learn a lot from different people about their culture, language, and background. My mentor is from Romania, and we spent a lot of time talking about the differences between the cities and schools and what it is like to do science in each country. For the fourth of July one of my coworkers who is from Myanmar invited a few of the lab members over for lunch at her house and served us a traditional dish from her home country. This learning experience was so unexpected, but it made my time in Houston so much richer and more meaningful.
Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?
During the internship, I learned a lot of new lab techniques. Before this summer, I had only worked with bacteria cells, but in this lab, I was working with human cancer cells. This meant that I had to learn sterile technique and how to work in a flowhood. I also learned different protocols such as RNA extraction, cDNA synthesis, qPCR, and Western Blot. These skills are all so important because they will be very useful when I come back to campus to continue my own research project. Now, I can spend the limited amount of time I have in lab during the semester working on the important parts of my project instead of learning and practicing new techniques.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.