When Adan Medina discovered he’d been selected for Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Summer Research Program (MSRP), he was ecstatic.
“I was in the lab when the program director called to say I was accepted. Let’s just say you could hear my excitement throughout the halls,” said Medina, a chemical engineering student in his final year.
This summer, Medina and 38 other students from various STEM majors around the country took part in this highly competitive undergraduate opportunity. Its goal is to prepare participants for graduate school through a focus on research. Medina said the three main pillars of the program were preparing for graduate school applications, networking, and conducting research with MIT professors.
The students all worked in research laboratories related to their fields and received a weekly stipend. Medina worked in the well-known Wittrup Lab that specializes in protein engineering, specifically focusing on anti-cancer drugs.
In particular, Medina focused on a different method of creating antibody-like reagents, or substances that help to bring about chemical reactions, for research. The goal of the project is to equip laboratories with efficient, low-cost methods to make antibodies. At the end of the 9-week program, all of the students presented posters about their research.
“I had to start my experiments over 3 or 4 times, which was stressful since I wanted to have data to show at the poster session. Not a second was ever lost, though, because each time I started over I knew a little bit more about the experiment,” Medina said.
Working in the WSU labs of Dr. Su Ha and Dr. John Alderete helped Medina gain the experience he needed to be accepted by MSRP. While his area of interest is biofuels, Medina’s passion for the research process gave him the desire to work in different fields.
“Adan is one of the most excitable, enthusiastic, dedicated undergraduates that my lab has had the pleasure to work with,” said Alderete.
As a result of MSRP, Medina is even more confident in his desire to pursue research through graduate school. He is applying to chemical engineering programs mostly on the West Coast that have strong bio-based alternative energy programs.
“This summer was my best experience by far. I am now confident in my ability to do research and in the huge difference that research can make,” Medina said.