Get to Know TraMi
23 June 2019
Hello! My name is TraMi Nguyen, and I am a rising Sophomore at the University of Delaware. My major is Biology (in the process of adding an Anthropology minor), and I am affiliated with the Vietnamese Student Association, Phi Delta Epsilon Fraternity, and the Outdoors Club.
I am currently interested in pursuing an MD-PhD. However, throughout my first year of college, I soon found out that gaining a research internship is generally reserved for those who already had experience working in a lab or for upperclassmen. Since I wanted to expose myself to research as soon as possible, I applied to Fox Chase’s fellowship. Fox Chase was especially appealing to me as an aspiring physician and researcher because of its duality as a research facility and hospital. Not only this, but after visiting and touring the center, I got a sense of what Fox Chase really stood for. Its environment fosters a friendly, welcoming, and patient-oriented atmosphere that enticed me as a student learner.
My project concerns the BRCA1 protein expression and how that affects sensitivity or resistance to targeted-drug therapies. I really hope to accomplish a better understanding of what biological mechanisms affect molecular therapy in breast cancer, and I am excited to go on this journey with my mentors and the rest of the fellows! After my first week, I will admit, I was extremely nervous and shy. I was afraid of messing up my very first Western blot (which I did) and accidentally killing my cell linings. I have started to relax more in the lab thanks to my mentors who have been extremely understanding and open to all my questions and concerns. As I repeat each of my procedures, I can sense myself becoming more assured and interactive with my mentors in discussing the raw data. After my 10 weeks at Fox Chase, I hope to gain a substantial foundation in research skills, a close relationship with my mentors and peers, and a better understanding of the dedication necessary for the research process. I cannot wait for what the next couple of weeks entail!
Nothing You Expect, and More!
14 July 2019
I am now halfway through the program here at Fox Chase, and so far it has been a whirl of different emotions involving failures, successes, new friendships, and unforgettable experiences! I am about to start week six out of ten, and all I can say is how the time has flown! Throughout my time working in the lab, I have learned that there is always something to be done, explored, or reviewed. My current project includes examining several mutated proteins from the BRCA1 gene. Working with my mentor is an absolute pleasure; I have already learned so much about experimental design, laboratory techniques, and the multiple, complex aspects of cancer research. I failed my protocol on several occasions and was distraught over “wasting material” and upsetting the lab staff, but I have come to learn and accept that failure constantly happens in scientific research, and what matters is how you fix your mistakes and improve for next time.
In addition, I have forged great friendships with other fellows here at Fox Chase who are extremely passionate and dedicated! Aside from work, the other fellows and I have uncovered the hidden gems of the greater Philadelphia area and tried (adventurously) all kinds of new foods. We have bonded over relatable laboratory stories over Philly cheesesteaks and getting lost taking the SEPTA, and so far it has been an absolute blast being able to go into my lab and then explore Philadelphia with the other fellows. I am so glad to have made friends that are participating in similar yet different projects as I am!
I am extremely grateful for all the guidance and experiences I have been given thus far; the experience of being in a scientific community here at Fox Chase is truly unmatched, and I look forward to what the rest of my time here holds!
A Bittersweet End
11 August 2019
You know that feeling you get when you have a long beach day and at the end of it you sit back and watch the sunset and feel so satisfied, so full, and so warm? Content with the day that has past and surprised to see it go so quickly. Well, that’s how I feel right now. Except my “beach day” was my 10 weeks at Fox Chase. I remember the first time I walked into my lab like it just happened yesterday, and now here I am wrapping up my project and planning its continuing future without my daily presence.
This is my last week here at Fox Chase, and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown. I vividly remember the days of going through pipette tip after pipette tip and learning how to create protein lysates, growing my cell lines to an adequate confluency and checking on them every day to make sure they were happy and thriving, redoing countless Western blots, and looking up “film development troubleshooting”. I have felt myself mature and become more independent with all the different procedures within my project and thus began to go with my lab’s natural flow more comfortably. I am amazed at how many things I have learned and even more boggled on how much more there is still to learn. I’ll be honest; it took me halfway into the summer before I finally got the hang of things. But when I did, it felt great to design a plan, execute it, and rejoice in the outcomes without having to worry about “what could go wrong”. Instead, I began to wonder what could go so right.
I am so happy and blessed that I was able to participate in such a wonderful experience, and I think there is no other opportunity like this one that could be better for any aspiring scientist. The experience of the lab is surreal, especially if you’ve never been in the lab before. It is nothing you expect and more, and I am forever remembering my time here at Fox Chase and carrying it with me throughout the rest of my life. I am sad to see the summer come to an end and to say goodbye to all the people who I have met. However, I know it is not really the end for I will always have a part of my Fox Chase family and memories with me, guiding me to another path filled with even more adventures.