Summer Centered: Juliana Benitez '20 Doubles Down on Biological Research
The biology major and health studies minor is conducting research in two on-campus labs.
For Juliana Benitez ‘20, spending a summer on campus is a chance to flex her research muscles in not one, but two biology labs.
A Marian E. Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center Summer Scholar, the biology major and health studies minor reached out to Professor of Biology Rob Fairman and Associate Professor of Biology Rachel Hoang, who were both eager to take her on as a research intern.
"These internships allow me to learn in-depth material about protein science and evolutionary development that is pertinent to my major,” said Benitez. “They also let me forge mentoring relationships with professors in the department I'm majoring in.”
Researching alongside two professors means Benitez gets to explore multiple sides of the field. While Fairman’s focus is protein buildup in the brain of individuals with dementia, Hoang studies evolutionary development in fruit flies. Due to the often unpredictable nature of scientific research, no two days in the either lab are alike for Benitez.
"My day depends on what experiments need to be run that day or soon into the future,” she said. “That means that I am working with my colleagues to schedule our experiments for the week and waiting for model organisms, like C. elegans or fruit flies, to be at the right age for certain experiments. If no experiments are planned, I'm usually reading up on papers relevant to the lab I'm working in. This gives me ideas about new experiments to run or results I want to confirm or try here at Haverford.”
A rising junior, Benitez is excited to be able to use her summer internships to become more comfortable in a lab setting before diving into "Superlab" in the fall.
"I'm hoping to learn how to conduct rigorous, collaborative research,” she said.
Those lessons will help her in her coming course work and senior thesis, and perhaps, even her future career.
"I'm tentatively planning on going into research in some disease-related field,” she said. “Although it's still very early in the summer, I am immensely enjoying my work so far and continue to feel that research might be a good career for me.”