Sarah Liskowicz '23: Growing as a Scientist

This summer, I participated in the SURE program at Rowan University’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (NJ). When I was applying for research experiences in my freshman year, Dr. Waldeck provided me information about this program.

Although I was not accepted that year, I applied again this year and was accepted! SURE is a 10-week long research program in which you work in a lab next to your primary investigator (PI), lab technicians, and/or graduate students in a variety of fields such as cellular biology, molecular biology, and neuroscience, gaining skills in many laboratory techniques. Housing is not offered, but a stipend of $3,750 is provided. 

My Experience

Ten to fifteen students typically participate in the program and scientific seminars are advertised; however, due to COVID, I was only one of five students, and the lectures did not occur.

I worked in Dr. Kumari’s lab, which focuses on signal pathways of taste sensation. The two projects I was involved in were investigating postnatal taste organ development and the mechanism of Docetaxel-induced taste alterations in a mouse model. I learned several techniques including immunohistochemistry, fluorescent microscopy, PCR, electrophoresis, RNA extraction, single-cell suspension, and cell counting and sorting.

Using Knowledge From the Classroom in the Lab

The Neuroscience Program prepared me extremely well for this experience.

Having the opportunity to participate in self-directed research during my freshman year provided me with skills in a number of techniques, including a few used in the Kumari lab; an understanding of how to problem solve in the lab; and simply taught me how to think about research.

Furthermore, each neuroscience course beginning with how to read literature and talk about science in NEUR 110 and 111 to learning how to write scientifically and to formulate and execute an independent research project in NEUR 330 greatly helped me throughout my experience.

What I Gained

This experience has been immensely helpful to me, and I am so glad to have had this opportunity. I have grown as a scientist, become more confident in the lab, and learned so much about research. I was also exposed to new fields that I would have never encountered like Dr. Kumari’s tongue research and was able to talk to many people about their research and their paths into science.

Moreover, living away from home; getting to meet new, wonderful people; and elucidating my career goals made my ten weeks even more valuable than I could have hoped. Participating in Rowan’s SURE program was a great experience, and I would highly recommend to anyone thinking of a career in research to participate in this program or one like it.