Gaining the experience to acquire an internship in neuroscience

Mount Holyoke College student Lucy Anderson took a deep dive into molecular research through a summer internship.

Lucy Anderson ’25 has always had an interest in science and research. The summer before her senior year of high school, she completed a research program where she discovered neuroscience.

“I found neuroscience to be interesting,” Anderson said. “I thought it provided a really unique way of understanding myself and the human experience more broadly.”

When Anderson, of Andover, Minnesota, entered Mount Holyoke, she was undecided about what subject she wanted to major in. But after taking an introduction to neuroscience class her first year, her nascent interest in neuroscience was sparked again.

Marta Sabariego made the content very accessible, even for people who didn’t really have much of a background in neuroscience or science more generally,” Anderson said. “She made the class really engaging, relating it to real-world things and experiences.”

Anderson joined Sabariego’s lab in her sophomore year, where she assisted in several research projects. Most recently, Anderson assisted in a study that looked at the working memory in an attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder animal model.

“I’m getting a good education from Mount Holyoke that’s preparing me academically for whatever I do in the future.”

“We studied rats that were thought to model a condition like ADHD. We then ran various behavioral tasks to determine their working memory function,” she said. “We were also looking at the actual brain regions and some of the chemicals that could be responsible for the working memory deficits that we saw.”

While looking for potential internship opportunities and reviewing faculty profiles within the University of Minnesota’s graduate program in neuroscience, Anderson learned about Julia Lemos’ research. She was drawn to Lemos’ focus on cellular and molecular neuroscience, which both have translational applications and can help provide more understanding and methods of treatment for conditions like drug addiction, depression and anxiety.

“Having people I’m close to affected by diseases such as these makes the opportunity to study these topics and potentially contribute to their treatment really compelling to me,” she said. “Also, I wanted to get more experience with techniques within cellular and molecular neuroscience.”

Anderson credits the research experience she gained in Sabariego’s lab with giving her the confidence to reach out to Lemos and inquire about a summer internship. She also thinks her experience in the lab made her a more attractive candidate.

“The intellectual background that I gained from the lab at Mount Holyoke and my prior research experience made me a lot more competitive as an applicant,” she said.

Lemos’ research focuses on how early life stress can affect certain brain regions. In her daily work at the lab, Anderson assists in data collection with a graduate student. She has also been looking at specific proteins and RNA to learn more information about behaviors that can be seen as a result of early life stress.

When it came to being prepared for success at her internship, Anderson said the Career Development Center helped her prepare her resume and provided her with a template to assist in composing the introductory email she sent Lemos.

“It was a useful resource,” Anderson said. “Learning how to structure an email really strengthened the one I sent to her and probably helped me get a position.” While she still has some time left at Mount Holyoke, Anderson is looking forward to continuing her education with a combined MD and Ph.D. program.

“I’m getting a good education from Mount Holyoke that’s preparing me academically for whatever I do in the future.”

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