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Before Winterim, which seems like just yesterday, I wrote a blog post about getting into the WISP internship program! WISP is the Women in Science Program, an opportunity for all those who identify as women to participate in science labs across campus. If you're at all interested in the process of getting into WISP, I recommend you look at my blog post about it from a couple weeks ago as this blog will be more focused on my experiences over the past 6 weeks.

When I was first informed of the lab that I was accepted into, I had to complete various training sessions to make sure I stayed safe in the lab and recognized the terminology for safety equipment. These were relatively quick! After that, I was ready to enter the lab and get started with my research. 

In my orthopedics lab with engineering Professor Van Citters, undergraduate participants are encouraged to take a large part in the formation of the research questions being explored. My first week mainly included meetings with my mentors to discuss the various research going on in the lab as well as going through articles about the findings happening in our lab. After this initial week, I felt ready to choose one of the projects happening within the lab. I chose SEM analysis of porous polyethylene, a project looking to advance the materials used in biotechnology and replace lost cartilage. I was able to modify the specific questions my mentor and I are exploring as well as create a plan to answer these questions.

Currently I go into the lab around 9-10 hours a week and my duties from day to day vary. Usually in the beginning of the week, I'll meet with my mentor and discuss what we need to accomplish by the end of the week. For my particular research, I'll spend time making samples with salt, testing my samples, and analyzing my samples under either a high intensity microscope or a scanning electron microscope.

Though a bit stressful trying to get to the lab for 10 hours a week in addition to my classes, my time in the lab is super fun and stimulating. I love being in an environment full of innovators and scientists who all share a common goal and working with them to solve a problem. Being in the lab is a great way to get hands on with my science education and solve problems beyond the classroom!

Though each lab is a little different, each WISP lab gives students the opportunity to get hands-on with their learning and work with professors, grad students, and other undergraduates. Working in a lab is a great use of time and I recommend it to anyone interested in science! I'm looking forward to the further analysis of the data I've been collecting as well as sharing what I've discovered with others. More updates to come!

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