TAV Students participate in a research project
About the project:
In surgeries, there are usually infections that are localized. People have to be on general and local antibiotics. This project aims to discover alternative ways to combat the local infections through being able to print materials that we can load with antibiotics.
The students were, first of all, trained in level 2 contaminant laboratory techniques which enabled them to work with basic human pathogens. Afterwards, they were introduced to the concept of bio-printing on a sponges type of filament which has pores in it to be able to later implement and load the printed materials with antibiotics to be able to combat localized infections. They learned to troubleshoot different techniques to be able to print discs using a 3D printer and load them with different types of antibiotics while still ensuring that they were not contaminated and remained sterile.
Over the course of the summer, they perfected their technique to be able to see the efficacy of each disc and what is the best way to print it by changing different settings such as infill, types of patterns and material. They then studied which one was able to combat bacteria for the longest.
- Elie Saadé, Lab Supervisor who trains the students and ensures the quality of the experiments.
About the students:
Zohreh Mohammadrezaee is a recent graduate of the Health Science program. She is currently studying behavioral neuroscience at Concordia University and hopes to pursue medicine and research in the future.
Lesly Nkindi is a recent graduate of the Health Science program. She is currently studying behavioral Biochemistry at McGill University.
Jialiang Li is a second semester student of the Health Science program. He hopes to study biochemistry and work in labs in the future.
How did you get the internship?
Z: Since I came to TAV, I have been interested in doing research. I always told Nima that I wanted to be involved in the research programs. Because of COVID, they had been postponed. After waiting for two years to participate, I was glad to receive an invitation to join the internship.
L: I had a 3D printing class with Dr. Rosenzweig, one of the instructors of the project. He mentioned that some students work in internships in the summer. I told him that I was very interested.
At the end of the semester, I was notified that there was an internship opportunity starting in June. I accepted the offer and started working.
J: I got the internship during the semester. Nima sent a Mio to all the students to let us know about the research program. I applied to the program and got in.
What was it like working in the research program?
Z: It was really cool because not everyone was allowed in the lab as it was a CL2 lab because we were working with specific bacteria. It felt like I was actually doing something which mattered.
We made lots of mistakes and would have to redo everything. It was frustrating at times but that is how science works. You only need it to work one time but getting there requires a lot of patience.
Most of the time, we had to discuss amongst ourselves how to proceed. We spent more time planning than doing.
It was supposed to be a 2 month internship but it ended up taking longer. They asked us if we were available to stay past the agreed amount of time. Because we knew that it could end up in publications, we all wanted to continue doing it.
L: I was expecting to have my tasks assigned to me but instead they told us that we had to come up with our own ideas, work on them and then present them. I was told not to look for instructions but rather to be more independent in my work.
We each did the same procedure but with different materials. There are many ways to approach a procedure and you can change variables to achieve different results. If I would mess up or rush, I was able to check in with the others to ask them how they did that specific task or for feedback.
J: Every morning, we’d discuss as a group what we’d like to accomplish. In the afternoon, we’d create a schedule to use the machine. We’d then project what we thought the results would be for our experiments of the following day.
In the beginning, we were making a lot of mistakes. Most of the data which is usable was collected in the last few weeks of the internship. I learnt how to fix my mistakes.
What did you gain from this experience?
Z: I learnt about the analysis of data and how to have a scientific perspective on how to approach and analyze things. It helped me to start thinking more scientifically. It taught me more about how research and experiments work.
This internship will help me because the major that I am interested in has a lot of biology. I’m more confident to now apply for a research assistant position.
L: It has taught me to be more independent. I learnt how to come up with ideas and share them with others so that they can give me feedback. I will definitely be using these skills in university.
I also enjoyed the team work. I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing so it forced me to ask for help. In turn, I learned that it was a very effective way to obtain results.
J: I learned how to work as a team for an extended period of time. Group projects in school usually last a week or so but this was the first time I had to work with people for two months. The longer you work with people, the more probable it is for conflict to arise. We had to learn how to work through that. Overall, we worked really well together and got along.
It was my first research project. It taught me how to go about the experiments from beginning to end. We had to figure everything out on our own. I learned how to think critically and independently which are necessary life skills.
It was a really cool learning experience. We had the tools and knew our end goal but we had to figure out how to get those results.