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Bypassing Summer Break for Science

Studying How Hamster Cells Heal


The highlight of senior Kaitlyn Lein’s summer? The beach? Maybe. Soccer? Could be.

How about using different dilutions of a drug to determine its effects on the healing of microscopic scratches on Chinese hamster ovary cell lines? Definitely.

While Kaitlyn’s summer adventure may seem a little unconventional to most teens, for her it was a chance to participate in scientific research with professors and teaching assistants at University of Chicago, her top college choice. Kaitlyn was one of 40 high school students and just three from Michigan who participated in the four-week Research in Biological Sciences Program. She was accepted because of her high achievement in science classes.

The RIBS program gives high school students the chance to learn techniques used in the most cutting-edge biological research facilities while earning college credit. It’s real-world, hands-on stuff that Kaitlyn sees as helping her pursue her dream of becoming a pathologist at a research hospital.

Senior Kaitlyn Lein learned about techniques used in top research hospitals over the summer
Senior Kaitlyn Lein learned about techniques used in top research hospitals over the summer

Holding a thick portfolio of her RIBS work, Kaitlyn said presenting her final project, completed with three other students through independent research, was the best part of the program. It was one of her first tastes of the type of work she hopes to do someday — increasing knowledge of how diseases work and better treating them.

“Pathology is exciting to me because of all of the different possibilities and opportunities available to study science and help people in a big way,” she said. “I love that I could possibly ease people’s suffering from diseases around the world with something that I might do in the lab one day.”

Byron Center AP Biology teacher Doug Adema said he is delighted and impressed by Kaitlyn’s accomplishment in RIBS. “She is very inquisitive, a good trait for a budding researcher. She processes concepts on a deeper level and loves the challenge,” Adema said. “While it’s a bit humbling to see a student surpass the teacher, I am really proud of her accomplishments and feel great that we teachers had a role in getting her to this level.”

At school, Kaitlyn plays soccer, is in National Honor Society and Pride Pack, the student-led organization formed to build school unity and community pride.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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