SGA Chaplain’s Scientific Research at Yale University

August 6 was my last day here at Yale University.  I have been pleasantly consumed by my scientific research internship for the last two and a half months.

I must say that Yale in all its “Ivy-ness” did not fail to meet and beat all my expectations. I have dinned in New Haven’s finest cuisine in and around the campus cafeteria and been exposed to diverse cultures.  In addition, I’ve been hard pressed between a grueling learning program and an altogether new work experience.

For the last 10 weeks, I have been working in Dr. Patrick Sung’s DNA recombination lab as a Sackler Fellow and a research intern. I have worked alongside several post-doctoral research fellows, a grad student and other undergraduate interns. My mentors, Dr. Dorina Saro and Dr. Valeria Busygina, and I have been tackling several projects in the line of DNA repair and I have learnt a great deal.

My life has revolved around the DNA repair proteins I work with and the fun residents of Arnold Hall with whom I lived with and shall fondly miss.  The coordinators of our program, Dr. Regan and Dr. Blaho, along with their team managed to make this experience truly rewarding and quite unforgettable. After the events of my last blog, I have since participated in several activities that were designed to make our Yale experience as beneficial as possible.

Smack in the middle of our 10 weeks, we held oral presentations of our work thus far and managed to do this with the aid of PowerPoint slides. My presentation was entitled, “Protein FAAP24 is Essential for DNA Binding in its Complex with FANCM”.   I gained insight on aspects of my project that I needed to pay attention to because of the critiquing I got from my peers and the professors in attendance at the function.   In loom of the final presentation, this session like the weekly journal club meetings held by Dr. Panasik at Claflin, improved my ability to present and boosted my confidence as a scientist among his peers.  Just before we buckled down to the grand finale poster presentation session, we managed to relax and let loose with a friendly game of cricket! The match was quite possibly the most fun any group of nerds has ever had and allowed us all to bond in an area other than science.

When the final presentations came, it was a bittersweet moment for all the fellows. It was an absolutely brilliant opportunity to evaluate and critic each projects and gain insight into areas different from our own work but it also signaled the saddening end of our time together.  More than 15 beautiful and informative posters reflected the fruits of our collective hard labor. The internship ended on a happy note with the surprise award of prizes for the best posters and each of us were given a custom designed T-shirt to immortalize our ‘Yale Experience’.

I am grateful to the James and Beverly Sackler Institute with whom my program is funded by, for their organization and thoughtfulness throughout this experience. My sincerest appreciation goes to the Sung lab led by Patrick Sung for their generosity and hospitality throughout the course of my stay. Most of all, I would like to thank the three people I worked so closely with and whom I learnt a lot from. When I do pursue my Ph.D. all I pray for is that I work with scientists as intellectually inspiring and ‘cool’ as Dorina, Valeria and Xiao. Thank you all for making my stay at Yale memorable.  I now return to Claflin with renewed ambition and valuable skills all that I plan to utilize back at the Hilltop High.

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