Senior Ashley Cousin Conducts Hands-on Research During Max Planck Internship

Senior Ashley Cousin’s love for science began as a young child.
“I was always curious and enjoyed science kits over more traditional toys,” said Cousin, now a Benjamin senior. Fittingly, she spent her summer conducting research for the Max Planck Florida Institute as part of their internship program for high school students. 
“The internship I did this summer was one of the best experiences I have ever had,” said Cousin. 
Cousin joined five other interns in a lab setting, conducting hands-on research. Cousin’s research focused on morphological abnormalities of neurons in models of Autism Spectrum Disorder. 
“During this process, I mainly performed immunostains, took images at the confocal microscope, traced the dendrites of the cells in a program called Neurolucida and then analyzed the traced images using Neurolucida Explorer. I also observed and performed other techniques such as making an ACSF (artificial cerebrospinal fluid) solution and attempting to patch and fill cells,” said Cousin.  
Each week, the team would meet with Education Outreach Coordinator Dr. Ilaria Drago, to discuss their findings. She also enjoyed exploring different aspects of Max Planck including electron microscopy, light microscopy cores and the machine shop. 
“Benjamin definitely helped prepare me for this internship experience,” said Cousin. “The knowledge and laboratory skills I gained in my AP Chemistry and Biotechnology classes gave me important background knowledge and experience with certain laboratory techniques . . . My teachers at Benjamin fostered my love of science and were always supportive and encouraging.”
Cousin said the opportunity to gain real-world lab experience and see what a career in research would be like was an invaluable experience that she would never forget. 

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