Summer Centered: Federico Perelmuter ’21 Returns to Science and South America
The rising sophomore returned home to Argentina for a summer internship in a biology lab at the Fundación Instituto Leloir.
When Federico Perelmuter arrived from Argentina for his first year at Haverford, he was interested in studying biology, but soon realized the breadth of his academic passions after taking courses in disciplines like English, comparative literature, and philosophy.
"I was able to open my eyes to fields of study that I found immensely more satisfying and fascinating, and so have seen my interests shift to the humanities and away from the sciences,” said Perelmuter, a rising sophomore. “However, this internship was, in part, a way for me to experience the life of a biologist and see if, having seen that, my newfound interests [in other areas] remained steadfast.”
Supported by the Center for Career and Professional Advising’s Liberal Arts in the Workplace grant, Perelmuter is interning at the Fundación Instituto Leloir (FIL), Argentina’s premier center dedicated to research and advanced scientific training in the life sciences.
As a research assistant in Pablo Wappner’s lab, Perelmuter works with Drosophila (fruit flies) to construct images and prepare experiments that explore the intricacies of cellular biology. Wappner’s lab is focused on the larval lymph gland of the Drosophila, so Perelmuter often finds himself exercising his hand-eye coordination levels by dissecting the gland, which is about 200 micrometers in size.
"I hope to obtain a richer picture of what everyday life is like for a biologist and scientific researcher, and the ways in which experiments are thought and built,” he said. “I believe this hyper-rational way of approaching problems will be useful in intellectual pursuits in any field. I also felt, as I went into the experience, compelled to familiarize myself with my country's scientific and higher-education systems, since I left Argentina to attend Haverford.”
One of the most valuable lessons Perelmuter has learned from this internship is the massive amount of collaboration and intense attention to detail that scientific research mandates.
"This internship has definitely shown me how much work it takes to create an image in a paper that is around a quarter of a page in size, as well as the daunting complexity of every single small phenomenon observed in the human body, and the extents of exhaustiveness required to thoroughly understand them,” he said. “I’d also like to thank everyone at the Wappner lab, but particularly Pablo Wappner; Maxi Katz, my day-to-day boss; and Tali Kiperman. They've all made me feel extremely comfortable since day one, no matter how many flies I've accidentally killed or released into the wild.”