Maryville College student Ravyn Thompson interns at the Mote Marine Laboratory
From Maryville College
Earlier this month, Maryville College junior Ravyn Thompson completed a 10-week competitive internship at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla.
The experience, offered to only 10 undergraduates from across the country, was made possible by the National Sciences Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.
Students who are selected for the program conduct independent research projects under a mentor’s guidance.
“It is an excellent resume-building experience that will help Ravyn gain admission to graduate school in the future, regardless of whether she stays in marine science or shifts to another field in biology or biochemistry,” said Dr. Jennifer Brigati, associate professor of biology at MC and Thompson’s academic adviser.
During the internship, Thompson performed a series of experiments using the white blood cells of the clearnose skate, a member of the cartilaginous fish family that includes sharks, skates and rays. The purpose of these experiments was to collect preliminary data that will be used later in researching the effect of environmental quality on the species’ immune system.
“In class labs, the professor generally knows the expected results, but the research I’m doing here has never been performed using skates,” Thompson said, in an earlier interview. “I’ve spent most of my time working on methodology through trial and error by tweaking one thing or another.” Founded in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent nonprofit organization and has seven centers for marine research, the public Mote Aquarium and an education division, specializing in public programs for all ages. The laboratory staff numbers more than 190 people, including 30 doctoral-level scientists.
Throughout her summer internship experience, Thompson became proficient in a diversity of cellular and molecular research techniques and gained the confidence to work independently in the laboratory.
The hands-on approach that the REU program provides has allowed Thompson to hone in on her career plans.
“My goal for the future is to get my Ph.D. after I obtain my undergraduate degree and then do some type of research,” she said. “There are so many different types of fields within science, but this internship has helped point me towards biomedical research and possibly continuing with marine organisms.”
Thompson, the daughter of Allen and Shasta Thompson of Knoxville, is a 2011 graduate of Halls High School.