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Summer Internships: Xinming Zhang '24

August 23, 2023
Headshot of Xingming Zhang

Name: Xingming Zhang
Class Year: 2024
Major: Neuroscience and Psychology
Minor: Chemistry
Hometown: Beijing, China

Internship Organization: Betley Lab, University of Pennsylvania
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Philadelphia, PA

What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

During my internship, I gained extensive hands-on experience in cutting-edge neuroscience experiments. I primarily assisted post-doctoral and Ph.D. researchers with their projects, meticulously following a variety of experimental protocols and understanding their significance within larger research contexts. Specifically, I handled the setup for optogenetic experiments, managed treadmill experiments, and even conducted surgical procedures on mice. This practical exposure perfectly complemented and enhanced the theoretical knowledge I had previously acquired from lectures and research papers.

Brain sample
Brain to be sliced by vibratome

Why did you apply for this internship?

I am eager to gain hands-on experience in neuroscience research. While I have taken numerous courses, they have primarily been theoretical, and I haven't had the opportunity to participate in any experiments on related topics. Additionally, I have a keen interest in working with animals, and this lab provides the chance to work with mice.

Hand holding an optic fiber
Testing optic fiber

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I secured this internship after inviting a visiting professor who taught me advanced behavioral neuroscience to deliver a talk about his ongoing research. His work greatly intrigued me, and given my desire for more research experience at the university level, I approached him to explore opportunities to work in his lab at UPenn.

Confocal lens imaging
Confocal lens imaging

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite aspect of the internship was the opportunity to delve deeply into the entire procedure of optogenetics. Although I had encountered optogenetics in academic papers, I often struggled to grasp the details. My prior understanding was limited to the general concept that optogenetics allows for the manipulation of a specific brain region's neuronal activities. During this summer internship, I not only participated in the production and testing of optic fibers, but also observed implant surgeries and conducted numerous experiments using optogenetics. Now, comprehending the procedural aspects of papers that discuss optogenetics is no longer a challenge for me.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.

Neuroscience Psychology Chemistry