August 30, 2011

Summer vacation in a science lab

Krissy Lyon ’12 is one of many students who spent the summer conducting scientific research.
  • Krissy Lyon ’12

For Lewis & Clark students, summer break isn’t a time to kick back. Instead, many students seize the opportunity to work alongside faculty on campus and beyond.

Krissy Lyon ’12 spent most of her summer at Johns Hopkins University, conducting neuroscience research. A psychology and biology double major from Gilbert, Arizona, Lyon participated in the Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP) sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

The competitive program provides summer research experiences for approximately 80 talented, underrepresented undergraduate students, who are nominated by faculty from HHMI-funded undergraduate programs. Learn about the Lewis & Clark HHMI program.

I am thankful that, at Lewis & Clark, information has not just been handed to me as a list of facts to memorize. Krissy Lyon ’12

EXROP participants work in the labs of HHMI investigators and professors, attend meetings at HHMI headquarters, and network with peers and researchers from various backgrounds and stages in their careers.

Learn more about Lyon’s experiences in the responses below:

How did you decide to attend Lewis & Clark?

When choosing colleges, I hoped to find an environment where I would easily connect with professors and other students. At the time I was applying, I was not sure what I wanted to study. I was interested in environmental studies, foreign languages, art history, biology, and psychology. At Lewis & Clark, I have been able to study all of these while receiving personal guidance from professors in defining my interests for a career path.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your summer research experience?

Lewis & Clark prepared me for this experience by providing fundamental knowledge in biological processes and by fostering the kind of critical thinking that is necessary for scientific inquiry. I am thankful that, at Lewis & Clark, information has not just been handed to me as a list of facts to memorize. Rather, I have spent time understanding the process of discovery, how to ask the right questions to find the solutions you are looking for, and which directions to take when things don’t go as you expected.

In the summer of 2010, I participated in the Rogers Summer Science Research Program with Professor Yueping Zhang and another undergraduate. We had the opportunity to plan for our research project, carry it out, and analyze and present our data. Yueping never told us what to do; she wanted us to think deeply about our project and reach conclusions on our own. The Rogers Program really helped me to understand the entire scientific process.

What drew you to this internship program, and what do you hope to take away from your summer research experience?

HHMI researchers are known to be both extremely talented and creative within their fields. I felt that the opportunity would allow me to experience the pinnacle of research science. Working within the lab provides insight into what it would be like if I choose to pursue a PhD There are many graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and MD/PhD students in the lab to answer questions about the path to a career in science.

My main goal for this summer was to learn techniques and improve my scientific thinking skills. The hands-on experience I gained will be vital to my future research endeavors. Additionally, working with HHMI and Johns Hopkins has given me the opportunity to meet some scientists with great insight and advice to share.

How have your overseas experiences enhanced your liberal arts education?

I studied abroad in Italy during the spring 2011 semester. I would say that living in a different culture is an invaluable experience for anyone, but what was particularly interesting to me was meeting individuals with a passion for science while I was abroad. Science is the same in all countries and languages. I think cross-cultural understanding is crucial as a member of the scientific community.

Visit Admissions Lewis & Clark HHMI Program