Summer Internship Series: Summer Full of Science!

Tovey Nederveld ‘20
Cruz-Monserrate Lab Research Assistant, The James Cancer Center, Columbus, OhioThe james cancer hospital and solove research institute

My name is Tovey Nederveld and I am a sophomore at Denison this year. I am an anthropology/sociology major from Columbus, Ohio, and I am also pre-med. This past summer, I had an internship through The Ohio State University in The James Cancer Center.

I worked in a biomedical research lab which was centered around the pancreas. The scientists in the lab researched pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis, obesity, and exercise through its relation to the pancreas. I was given my own research project to work on for the summer, learning about chronic pancreatitis, pancreatic fluid, and a protein in the pancreatic fluid called SerpinA5. SerpinA5 is only present in the pancreas when a patient has chronic pancreatitis. The major questions that I tried to answer were: What is the relationship between chronic pancreatitis and SerpinA5? Why is there only SerpinA5 in patients with chronic pancreatitis (CP)? How can we identify if SerpinA5 is a biomarker of CP and how can we use that to detect CP before it is too late to reverse the effects?

When I first got to the lab, this was a difficult task because I had only taken one biology class before. My supervisor emailed me five papers to read the night before my first day of my internship and I was overwhelmed and nervous about understanding the material and being able to have conversations about it. I got through the reading though, and each time she gave me material to read I was better able to understand it and apply it to what I was doing in the lab. I was charged with the responsibility of finding and ordering my own materials, figuring out how to go about the tests, and analyzing the results, with some guidance from my supervisor. She treated me as just another part of the team while still being hard on me, and that really helped me to develop my skills as a scientist. About a month in, I felt confident in myself and rarely had to ask for help.

In the end, all of my results were negative, but I gave a presentation to my coworkers about what I learned. This was another challenging part of the experience for me. I put together a PowerPoint with all of my results and presented it to people who were much more qualified and knowledgeable than me. I went through it with confidence, and although I had a few rough patches, I finished the presentation feeling good about all that I accomplished during the summer.

I have gained many skills that I will be able to apply to my chemistry and biology labs at Denison and have learned about all of the research that is done for the medical field. I had a great experience this summer through my internship and I am grateful for the great opportunity that I had to learn while school was not in session.

I would like to thank Dr. Cruz-Monserrate, Nikki Badi and Andrew Dangel for all of their support and mentorship this summer.