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Intern of the Week: Noel Getachew for BioChem!

Check out his research position at HHMI Dr. Summer’s Lab

March 8, 2018 10:45 PM

Name:Noel Getachew

Internship, Co-op or Research Site: HHMI Dr. Summer’s Lab

Position Title: Researcher

Major(s)/Minor(s):Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Work Term:Summer 2017

Tell us about your internship, co-op, or research opportunity, including your day-to-day responsibilities.

I work in a structural biology lab that studies HIV. I work under my PI Dr. Michael Summers and my grad student, Christy Gaines. My group focuses on tRNA and Matrix (a domain of an important HIV protein) interactions. I often work with trying to purify proteins and isolating certain tRNAs so that they can be used for experiments. Synthesizing these molecules take many days

Describe the process of obtaining your position. When did you hear of the position and submit your application?

I have many friends who are in Dr. Summers lab and they spoke highly of their experience working here. After hearing about how much they enjoyed Summers lab, I eagerly applied to be a researcher there. I was interviewed by Dr. Summers and even though his lab was pretty much full for the summer, he was kind enough to offer me a spot.

What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization?

I love feeling like I am part of a machine that works towards understanding and curing HIV. As I work more in the lab I begin to realize that I really am on the "front lines" of HIV research and knowing that makes me feel honor to work in research. I also love working with my peers in my lab. Some of my closest friends are my co-workers in Dr. Summers lab and they have been a great support both in and out of lab.

How do you believe you have made an impact through your work?

I have helped my group characterize tRNA-matrix interactions. Understanding this complex is a step towards us figuring out the structure of this interaction which will provide information for drug companies. Once drug companies obtain this information they can potentially design some sort of molecule to structurally prevent the interaction or come up with some other treatment method.

What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?

Don't get worried if things don't go right the first time! HIV research is complicated and errors are be expected but even from mistakes knowledge is gained so just keep persevering! I remember during the summer I struggled for a period of time with getting a certain experiment to go right. At the time I felt sad because I was not able to help my group progress through our project and guilty because I was holding the group back. But thanks to my perseverance at the experiment and the continuous positive support of my group, I was able to succeed and get the data we need and that achievement was worth the struggle to get there.

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