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Students Explore Laboratory Science in Summer Research Course

Two students working in lab

High school students from around the area, and undergraduate students visiting Johns Hopkins from other universities here to take a summer lab class, spent part of their summer learning their way around the laboratory – and earning some college credit while they’re at it.

Led by Dr. Patrick Cummings, program director for the master’s in biotechnology, and by Dr. Kristina Obom, director of the Center for Biotechnology Education and program director for the master’s in bioinformatics and biotechnology, 10 students learned what goes on in a laboratory, including the names of the tools in the lab and how to clone genes.

The course previously has been offered on the Homewood campus, but this summer was the first time it was offered at Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus. It is geared toward rising high school seniors as well as college undergraduates looking for laboratory enrichment.

The opportunity to start with the basics is what attracted Jazmyn McKoy to the Introduction to Lab Research class. While she has always found science interesting, she never had the opportunity to expand her knowledge beyond what she has learned in typical high school science courses. A 2013 graduate of Holton-Arms School in Bethesda who will be attending Colgate University, McKoy says she has been pleasantly surprised she is learning skills that will help her with her International Relations major and Music minor in the fall.

“I’m learning how to keep a journal organized and I’ve gotten back into the swing of doing homework and studying each night,” she said.

Obom and Cummings had the students do more than basic lab science. By the end of the two-week program, students used micropipettes, electrophoresis gel and microcentrifuges. They also practiced extracting and replicating DNA. Students successfully completing the program received two Johns Hopkins credits.

For Jeremy Stubbs and his classmates, the class was an opportunity to delve deeper into areas in which they were already interested.

“We don’t get real, quality knowledge like this in school,” he said. “School science lessons are much more rushed than what we do here.” Students talking with teacher

Stubbs, a rising junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, said the skills he was taught will help him in his desired field of engineering. The hands-on nature of the class has helped him get excited about what he’s learning.

“I find myself more engaged than I was in school. I’m able to stay focused because I’m learning so many new things,” he said.

Professors strived to keep every student engaged by presenting lessons in a variety of ways. During the day students watched videos, took notes from slideshow presentations, and completed lots of hands on lessons learning directly from the professors.

For McKoy, the class served as a reminder that science is becoming an integral part of everyday life.

“Biotechnology is an expanding field that is becoming more and more important in our society. Learning these basic science skills is important for the future,” McKoy explained. 

And even though she plans to have a professional career in the field of International Relations, McKoy is still excited to have the knowledge of lab science.

“Hey, you never know where life will take me,” she said. 

CATEGORY: Academics, K-12 Outreach