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Shivani Agrawal

An Advance Look at Research Careers: Intern Shivani Agrawal

One of the best ways to learn about a career is to experience it yourself, so Shivani Agrawal, a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy, is excited to be doing an internship with Northeast Ohio Medical University  researcher Denise Inman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and director of the Integrated Pharmaceutical Medicine graduate program. Shivani began her internship at the start of the Bio-Med academic year and will finish it when she graduates in May.

You are one of the many Bio-Med students doing an internship at NEOMED. How did you find out about the opportunity?

I found out about NEOMED internships from a former Bio-Med senior. I emailed Dr. Inman and asked for an internship, and she accepted me.

 Tell me about her area, and what you’re doing.

Dr. Inman works in the Neurodegenerative Disease and Aging research focus area. Her lab is studying glaucoma, a condition that causes blindness in the eyes. The experiments that we’ve done are to see how ketogenic diets (high-fat, high protein diets) could benefit people with glaucoma.

What do you do on a daily basis?

It depends. I always help out where needed, but I sometimes get to do stuff by myself. Sometimes I work with the mouse models – I take pictures of the tissue under the microscope and trace around it for analysis.

Tell me what the lab environment is like. Do you work on your own or with other people?

I mainly work with one other researcher, but if other people have work they need me to do, I’ll help them. A lot of other students work with us, too.

It’s pretty cool! It’s a steep learning curve but everyone there is really helpful and fun to be around. The people are super nice and helpful. I can always just ask if I have questions. I was really confused at the beginning of the year but now they trust me enough that just last week I was able to teach someone else how to do something.

Do you feel like you’re learning skills that you could apply later?

Yeah, there’s a lot of problem-solving that goes on. If something doesn’t work, you have to do it again.

For example, when I’m running gel electrophoresis a lot of the times the process doesn’t work – the  tissue in the brains may have holes in it, or it’s torn, so we have to work around it. When that happens,   you have to run the process again.

What’s your plan for the future?

Right now, I’m leaning towards medicine and being a doctor, but this internship has been really helpful. We use a lot of the skills from school in the lab, and working in a lab relates to a lot of things in my future career. As for college, right now I’m applying to a lot of medical programs. We’ll see where I get in!

Liam Martin, a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy and an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications, contributed this article.