Fellows across each training stage share their accomplishments and moments of growth as they advance to their next level of training.

Each fall presents a fresh chapter for fellows at the NICHD. Often at a time of transition we allow our focus to dwell on the uncertainty that lies ahead, quickly forgetting even our most recent (and pivotal) milestones. The NICHD Office of Education recently asked departing postbac fellows and college and high school summer interns to reflect on their individual training experiences in hopes of inspiring a moment of pause and active awareness to their accomplishments.

“I’m most proud of the progress I’ve made in understanding our work in the Hoffman lab. I sometimes forget and don’t give myself enough credit for how much I’ve learned since joining the lab. I’m really proud that I am now able to ask relevant questions and think critically about the work in our field.”

Ashley Pratt
Training level: Postbac
Next step: Brown-NIH Graduate Partnership Program

“I feel accomplished having finished my first research internship. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I feel proud about not only being accepted but completing it. I have a fear of public speaking so presenting multiple times throughout this program was incredibly nerve wracking. However, after doing it so many times this summer I feel like going forward I won’t feel as anxious and that I have a bit more confidence.”

Jeanine Henry-George
Training level: Summer Intern
Next step: Brown University, Senior Year

“A major accomplishment from this summer was making and presenting a poster about my work! I learned a lot about what goes into designing and building a poster, as well as valuable insight on poster presenting and communicating effectively about research to a broad audience.

Throughout the summer, I also gained a better understanding of not just research and laboratory techniques, but also important skills such as reading research articles and interpreting data.”

Katalina Li
Training level: High School Summer Intern
Next step: Johns Hopkins University, Freshman year
Area of study: Public Health and Molecular & Cellular Biology

“I have been really excited in these last few months of my postbac to take part in a collaboration with Dr. Tom Dever’s lab by starting a mouse colony and characterizing phenotypes for a mouse model of a rare sex-linked disorder known as MEHMO syndrome. It has been incredibly rewarding to generate a model for more research into this disorder.

Separately from my postbac, this past week my former advisors and I submitted my undergraduate thesis work to Frontiers in Plant Science, which, if accepted, will be my first publication, and a first authorship at that!”

Rachel Muti
Training level: Postbac
Next step: Emory University, PhD Program
Area of study: Genetics and Molecular Biology

“It was amazing meeting so many diverse people and learning from them. I spent a lot of my time optimizing and exploring different strategies for single-particle Cryogenic Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) computational processing. I'm excited to share that I resolved a 1.65 Å apoferritin map! It was only possible with all the amazing, patient mentorship I received. I am grateful to have gained valuable research experience while having fun and learning so much!”

Jasmin Wu
Training level: High School Summer Intern
Next step: High School, Senior Year

“One accomplishment that I am proud of from this past year is presenting at Postbac Poster Day and getting an Outstanding Poster Award.”

Summer Khan
Training level: Postbac
Next step: Albany Medical College, MD Program

“My time in the Matthies Lab was the most fascinating, mind-blowing experience I have had thus far, to say the least. The members of the lab, my mentor Dr. Louis Tung Faat Lai, and of course Dr. Doreen Matthies, are some of the kindest, most brilliant individuals I have ever met. From the second I stepped foot into the lab, they ensured that I was learning and absorbing as much knowledge as I could. From our lunches in the kitchen to our weekly lab meetings, they made every effort to make me feel part of the group and made it feel like my second family. Special shoutout to my mentor Dr. Lai, who so kindly supported me through every step of my internship. He will always hold a special place in my life given how much he has taught me from both a research lens and from a practical aspect. He always encouraged me to learn new techniques and fostered my curiosity. From conducting protein purifications and performing different assays, I was able to master new techniques and contribute directly to experiments. I was delighted to present my work at the NIH Summer Poster Day where I also saw the incredible work of other summer interns and spoke to other knowledgeable researchers. I am so honored and grateful that I could help contribute to one of Dr. Lai's papers which is now under review in Nature Communications. I could not have asked for a better mentor and am so happy I had the opportunity to intern at the Matthies Lab at the NICHD/NIH. I am headed back to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for my sophomore year in college, carrying the wealth of knowledge I gained from this experience.”

Jayashree Balaraman
Training level: Summer Intern
Next step: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Sophomore Year

“I will bring with me the fascinating interplay between evolutionary genetics and biomedical problem solving. During my internship I made friends, valued my hands on mentoring experience with postdoc Dr. Rachel Cosby, and gained enormous confidence for my future graduate studies. I aim to present this research at national conferences, such as American Society for Cell Biology and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists, and plan to stay in touch with the Macfarlan lab long after my summer here in Bethesda.”

Training level: Summer Intern
Next step: Stanford University, Biology PhD Program