Ashley Ravnholdt is a senior biology major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has been working with NSRI scientists to grow her knowledge of the fundamentals of Polymerase Chain Reaction, cell culturing as well as the basic principles for the upkeep of a laboratory.
What is most interesting about the work with NSRI?
The most captivating thing about the work I complete at NSRI is understanding that all the minor tasks I complete each day play a role in contributing to a major project that assists in defending the United States. I have felt a stronger sense of patriotism because the projects we handle ultimately support our military and the United State's defense. Since I lack a military background it has been fulfilling to work under projects that do aid the United States Armed Forces.
What have you learned so far through this work?
I am very new to NSRI, but I have already learned a lot. Prior to this internship, I had only experienced a laboratory setting in school. Since starting at NSRI I have learned many techniques including, but not limited to, aliquoting, pipetting, sterilizing and labeling, which are all essential techniques to avoid contaminating samples. These techniques will allow me to process future samples without adding undesirable elements that hold the potential of altering results.
How has this work moved your education forward?
Being assigned to a laboratory at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has allowed me to familiarize myself with a research lab setting while also surrounding myself with professional scientists.
I have learned so much about PCR that I have been able to apply my knowledge to my current classes. Learning about PCR in a lab setting has allowed me to understand it beyond a novice level.
What is it like to tell your friends, family and peers that you're working on a project for the Department of Defense or federal agency?
I feel proud to tell people that I work under such a great organization. The National Strategic Research Institute has really built a name for itself. It is always a treat to tell my friends and family who I work for and what I do. When I first told my best friend about NSRI she had mentioned that I radiate while talking about it and that it doesn’t sound like work, but rather something I enjoy to do.
Why should other students intern through NSRI?
Every undergraduate student interested in science should have an internship experience like this. It has provided a great opportunity to go beyond my textbooks and actually apply what I have been learning to my work. This position has allowed me to find more value in my degree, and therefore provided me a strong drive to excel in my curriculum.