In the area of bioscience, the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, is one of the top nonprofit biomedical research institutes in the world, and SA recognizes Charlotte Silver ’20 for her participation in the highly selective summer internship at Scripps.
Scripps receives approximately 150 applications from students entering grades 11 and 12 throughout Palm Beach County, and during the summer 2019 program, Charlotte was one of twelve students chosen to participate in the program. The internship emphasizes scientific process, research planning, bench experience, experiential design, data analysis, and interaction with laboratory personnel.
“After writing an essay about my science research interests and passions, I was assigned to a lab that fulfilled my particular interests. In my case, I wrote about my interest in researching infectious diseases and was assigned to an HIV research lab,” she said.
Scripps Research is known worldwide for its commitment to innovation. Researchers make advances in the biosciences and lead breakthrough studies that impact the world’s most serious health concerns.
According to The Scripps Research Institute, their educational and training programs “mold talented and committed students and postdocs into the next generation of leading scientists” and are “accelerating the creation and delivery of medical breakthroughs to better human health around the globe.”
At the beginning of Charlotte’s summer internship, she was assigned to work with a graduate student who became her mentor throughout the 8-weeks. “Initially, my mentor was extremely helpful in helping me acclimate to the equipment, safety, and experiments that I would need to perform individually for my project,” she said.
Charlotte’s project involved Optimizing an Assay for Identifying Key Chromatin Regulators in HIV-1 Latency. “I had never learned anything about biotechnology or about viruses/HIV in the past, so I had to learn the science behind my project within the first few days in order to fully comprehend my project,” she added.
Charlotte’s experiences at Scripps were valuable for many reasons, including working closely with highly motivated and intelligent people committed to working collaboratively towards common goals. “Each week, the Principle Investigator (PI) of my lab hosted a lab meeting where each member would present their findings of data from that prior week and if anyone was having complications with their projects, the members would contribute their knowledge to try to help each other out. I found this very important to the whole research process because although everyone in the lab was researching separate projects, it was great for everyone to come together once a week and assist in each other’s efforts,” she offered.
Another extremely valuable takeaway from Charlotte’s experience at Scripps was being involved in the process of troubleshooting. “By experiencing failure time and time again, I learned how long and difficult, yet how fascinating science research can be,” she said. “During my project, about two out of the eight weeks consisted of me attempting to find a mistake in one of the factors in my experiments because of the low transduction rate of my synthesized virus,” she added.
Charlotte’s Scripps experience taught her that she wants to continue to pursue science research at Saint Andrew’s in her senior year, in college, and beyond. “I came into the work, thinking it would be tedious. However, I left the lab at the end of the summer, feeling the exact opposite. I learned that the curiosities and faulty data involved in the research process are what make the experience interesting and exciting.”
At the conclusion of her internship, Charlotte was required to make a presentation of her summer project and present it to the entire Scripps community. “When the time came for me to prepare for my presentation, it became very clear to me that the individuals in my lab were extremely eager to help me. I practiced time and time again for over two hours with my colleagues, and they gave their feedback and criticisms, which helped me gain confidence in my research and presentation skills,” she said.
Charlotte finds that science teachers here at SA, including Mrs. Martin and Mr. McLeod, are similarly supportive of her as she develops as a science researcher. “Charlotte is a stellar student, and I am proud of what she achieved at Scripps,” said Mr. McLeod. “But I am even more proud of how hard Charlotte works every day to accomplish her goals.”
Charlotte believes that her time at SA combined with her Scripps summer internship has helped her identify research as an ideal academic and professional pursuit for her. “I took what I have learned at Saint Andrew’s and expanded on it at Scripps. I’ve learned persistence, precision, how to think fast on my feet, how to reason with data properly, and what my attitude regarding failure should be.”
SA is proud of Charlotte’s achievement and values her experiences at Scripps in the area of scientific research. The school continues to prepare Charlotte and other students interested in biomedical research as they further their studies in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), robotics, and other bioscience