Polk County Early College student Makayla Lail recently returned from Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics (SVSM) at East Carolina University.
SVSM is a four-week state-funded summer program designed to recognize academically outstanding participants who are pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Lail is a junior at PCEC who is currently working towards earning her Associate of Science degree from PCEC and Isothermal Community College and aspires to further her education in advanced medicine.
During the Ventures program, students live on campus and conduct research around topics related to their field of study. Lail had the opportunity to study Molecular Biology and DNA Fingerprinting, where she learned the basic experimental laboratory procedures needed both to make and manipulate solutions commonly used in biotechnology, conduct dilutions of stock solutions and quantitative evaluation of results. Lab exercises included learning how to make bacteria cultures, splice genes, and test cells through gel electrophoresis.
Lail was also chosen to participate in the Neuroscience program and work in the University’s Behavioral Neuroscience Lab. Course work for this class included learning about synapses and neurons, how to carry out histological processes and counting the number of cells in specific regions of the brain. Under the leadership of Dr. Tuan Tran, she presented a final research paper and presentation as part of a research project that seeks to slow the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.
While Lail learned a lot in the classroom, SVSM also provided several fun activities and experiences out of the classroom. After class, students were able to listen to guest speakers who presented on a wide range of topics, including a doctor who talked about his experiences in practicing family medicine. Students enjoyed visiting a temporary art exhibit displaying images of galaxies and formations of stars and later had a fun day building friendships at a nearby lake.