For 12 weeks last summer, biology student Elizabeth Cross researched with a team of doctors in the Nephrology Department at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.
As a part of the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases (KUH), Summer Research Program, she worked under the guidance of Dr. Shuta Ishibe and studied the genes that cause kidney diseases.
"I knew the function of the kidney, but taking a deeper look at it made me realize that its function is much more than filtering blood and maintaining pH balance," Cross said. "Our mentors gave talks and discussed their different areas of research and how it applied to real-life cases at Yale New Haven Hospital."
Research and laboratory experience
The KUH program prepares undergraduate students to be scientific investigators in biomedical research. The program also provides students with an exciting "hands-on" opportunity to conduct fundamental research in clinical and basic science laboratories directly investigating human disease processes.
"Many of the lab techniques I performed in the Yale lab, I have done previously in labs at Umass Dartmouth," she said. "It was so amazing to realize that the simple techniques I begrudgingly do for a grade are so critical to understanding and viewing how the body works."
Vital skills for success
Since completing the internship, Cross is looking forward to getting back into her UMass Dartmouth classes and bringing some vital new skills with her.
"I'm really excited to go back to school because this internship helped keep my fiery passion to learn alive," she said. "The program taught me almost all the tools I will need for testing my senior thesis proposal and interpreting my results," she said.
The KUH internship also gave Cross a new appreciation for her UMass Dartmouth roots.
"After being at Yale, I have grown to appreciate the close knit community we have," she said. "I think studying biology at UMass Dartmouth is special for me because the faculty and students really show that they care about me and my success."
Future steps: research & medical school
"I'll be taking a gap year doing research in Dr. Ishibe's laboratory in the Nephrology Department at Yale School of Medicine," Elizabeth said. "I'm looking to apply to medical school in the South or on the East Coast."