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Spotlighting Wistar’s Cheyney University Student Scientists 

Read some reflections from the Cheyney University students who participated in Wistar’s Biomedical Research Methods course during Spring 2022.

Lights, lab coats, action! The click of pipettes and low murmur of voices fill the open lab space as students set up experiments. Each undergrad is seated at their own lab station equipped with a row of pipettes, colorful tube holders, and other tools they need for today’s lesson. It is one of the final weeks of Wistar’s Biomedical Research Methods course, taught by Dr. Kristy Shuda McGuire, The Wistar Institute dean of Biomedical Studies, and Dr. Ian Tietjen, research assistant professor in Wistar’s Montaner Lab.

This educational collaboration between The Wistar Institute and Cheyney University engages STEM undergraduates in a hands-on laboratory experience focused on practical bench skills including cutting-edge biomedical research techniques. The students are working on real Wistar science with a focus on cancer biology. The curriculum uses a project based on Wistar research from the laboratory Dr. Maureen Murphy, program leader, Molecular & Cellular Oncogenesis Program, Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center, which centers on African-centric variants of the p53 tumor suppressor gene—the most frequently mutated gene in cancer. Once students successfully complete the course, they have opportunities to continue conducting research through summer internships at Wistar.

Below are some students’ reflections of the BRM course.

“I got to do some of the things here that we only spoke about in virtual lab, so actually pouring the agar plates was really cool. I really liked that, and it was so fun.”

– Sophia Kurian, sophomore. She is studying biology with an interest in pursuing a career involving forensic science and plans to continue research at Wistar through the summer internship program.

“I took this course because I wanted to get a research background. It’s a very fun environment and a program that really showed me practical applications of science. It made me realize science is a lot more of an art. … My favorite skill to learn was definitely working with cell lines in the cell culture lab. I loved using the aspirator.”

– Abdiel Mandella Reynolds, sophomore. He is studying biology with a pre-medicine focus and plans to go to med school. He plans to continue research at Wistar through the summer internship program.

“I picked Wistar’s course because of the hands-on experience. I started school during the pandemic, and it was so different. But here, we get that in-person, hands-on experience, that allows us a broader understanding of science in a lab.”

– Michelle Lucas, sophomore. She is studying biology and her current career goal is to be a travel nurse.

“This course really makes you think about how people use certain tools or mechanisms for all these different applications. It shows you how to use different devices and use your knowledge in a lab. I heard that researchers from UPenn come over here to use some of these really advanced tools which is something I’m happy that I’m around.”

– Mohamedanwar Idress, sophomore. He is studying biology with a pre-medicine focus and plans to go to med school.