By Stephanie Wang
Hey all! I'm glad to have the chance, as I begin my new summer blog series, "Experimenting With the Life of a Scientist(a)" to introduce myself. I'll be living the life of a researcher this summer, going to lab full-time--five, sometimes six days a week-- in search of the potential mechanisms behind muscle aging. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning.
My name is Stephanie Wang. I love walking barefoot in the grass, eating fruit, and playing frisbee (the simple things in life). I am concentrating in Chemical and Physical Biology, which gives me ample space to explore all the hard sciences. Crazy as it is for me to realize, I will be starting my senior year in a few months.
Speaking of lab, it's been a long journey, but the saying's true—the third time is the charm. The Wagers Lab is the third research group at Harvard that I've worked with, and I can finally say that I love what I do day-to-day at the bench.
Now I am doing thesis research under the guidance of a graduate student, Julie Oh, in the Wagers Lab, working with both aged and transgenic mice to determine the role of two specific proteins in the aging of skeletal muscle. Although much of the process of aging results from imbalances within the cell, these intracellular changes occur due to age-related alterations in the extracellular environment. My hypothesis is that these extracellular alterations result in changed levels of an inflammatory marker, IL-6, and a heat shock protein, HSP72, that ultimately induce the process of aging in skeletal muscle (as shown in lowered abilities to regenerate injured muscle and reduced skeletal muscle stem cell differentiation). I can't wait to share more about the project in future blog posts and introduce you all to my mentor, Julie!
One last thing: in the middle of sophomore year, I found myself declaring myself a pre-med. There are a ton of stereotypes that are attached to the term, most (if not all) negative, and so I usually like to keep my pre-med status on the DL. However, for what it's worth, my interest in medicine goes hand-in-hand with my other interests in the hard sciences, and even creative writing and art. I came to the choice in an unconventional way (a story for another blogpost) and it is my hope that I continue to be unconventional in the medical field, bringing something new to the role of physician.
So, what can you expect from this blog? Stories about PRISE a great, community-oriented summer research program; an inside look at an incredible stem cell and aging lab led by a rising superstar in the field; some guidance on applying to medical school; the experiences of a thesis researcher and writer in real time; and maybe a poem here or there. I'm excited to share this summer with you, and hope you'll join me for the ride!