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Michelle Koh

Year: 2021

Concentration: MCB or HDRB

House: Lowell

Q: What program are you in, where is your lab, and what does your research involve?

A: I am part of the PRISE program, working at Harvard Medical School, working in the lab of Dr. Joan Brugge. Along with my mentor, I am researching and analyzing the effects of a knock-out mouse study that aims to analyze the effects of depleting a core antioxidant and seeing how it interacts with different tissues in the body and seeing how we can use this to target breast cancer.

Q: Why did you guys apply to HSURV?

A: As someone who did not have very much research experience before, this allowed me to explore this field at a new depth and interact with different researchers, but at my workplace and at Winthrop, where I could talk to people who had different interests and just learn from my peers and my mentors at the lab. And because it's a summer program, because everyone doesn't have school work or anything, unlike term-time research, you can really enjoy your time with other people and just really focus on learning the research when you're in the lab but when you're out of the lab really getting to know the other people in HSURV.

Q: How has the summer played out so far?

A: I thought that even though there were a lot of other young student researchers living with me, I thought it would be much harder to find the time outside of lab to really get to know people and talk with my peers, but I really enjoy how I've been able to both explore my interests in biological research and to get to know a lot of my peers, a lot of whom are visiting fellows from England.

Q: What has been something that you've learned this summer?

A: One thing that I've learned, and one thing that's really changed my perspective about research in biology in particular has been something the mentors in my lab both told me and showed me. I know that a cell, or the human body and all these organ systems and all these tissues, they're not meant to work perfectly like a machine like they seem to be in textbooks, they're not meant that's perfectly engineered, and we're supposed to figure out the buttons to push, but I think coming out of our classes at Harvard and high school biology classes, I really expected if we were able to find that one trigger, that one thing that I could change or target, I could make this whole machine and this whole pathway fall into place, and through my experiences in the lab, that's certainly not true, and that can be frustrating. But while I've talked with the researchers in my lab and in the research community, I can see how there's such excitement, there's such passion about finding any solution, whatever works, and what might be frustrating and what might seem super difficult is all the more exciting, because there's so many different things you can try and so many mistakes you can learn from.

Q: What element would you bend?

I would bend fire because on the East Coast, I'm constantly cold, and if I could bend fire, I would be warm in these cold, soul-crushing New England winters.

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