Summer Centered: Tala Qaraqe '25 Builds Biotechnical Skills in the Medical Lab
The prospective molecular biology major is gaining hands-on experience with medical technology at the Central Public Health Laboratories in Ramallah, Palestine.
Tala Qaraqe ‘25 is spending her summer immersed in the technical side of health services. The prospective molecular biology major is working in the Molecular Diagnostics division of the Ministry of Health’s Central Public Health Laboratories (CPHL), located in Ramallah, Palestine, with the support of the Center for Career and Professional Advising’s Liberal Arts in the Workplace fund.
“I shadow lab technicians as they draw blood and tissues from patients and perform molecular diagnostic tests for nucleic acid targets found in a variety of clinical, environmental, and food samples,” Qaraqe said. She also helps organize samples and prepare them for DNA/RNA extraction by performing techniques such as KingFisher Flex and Maxwell RSC.
Qaraqe explained that she was drawn to CPHL by both an interest in studying biology, and in gaining experience in lab processes, including micro-pipetting and preparing reagents.
“In addition to learning the important lab techniques, I wanted to be introduced to the different machines and equipment used in extracting and analyzing DNA/RNA. That is what I was interested in the most, due to its importance in finding solutions for existing genetic problems,” she said.
Qaraqe is currently the only undergraduate in the laboratory. While the experience differential can be challenging, she notes, she appreciates “the opportunities to ask questions about a career in molecular biology, and to learn from colleagues’ wealth of experience working in a lab.”
“My supervisors gave me good feedback about the molecular bio major, and they even opened my eyes to different concentrations that are highly needed in this field generally,” she said. “This internship helped me to develop a good understanding of the work environment and technicians’ responsibilities. It has definitely shown me that pursuing a career in biology is a perfect fit for me.”
Qaraqe, who grew up speaking Arabic in Palestine, had never taken a biology course in English before coming to Haverford. Since CPHL conducts work in English, she has found the opportunity to learn the language of the field particularly useful. She plans to use her internship experience to pursue a career in biotechnology, continuing to make use of the techniques and skills she is learning at CPHL.
"Summer Centered" is a series exploring our students' campus-supported summer work.