Student Profile: Michael Kelly ’20

Michael spent the summer of 2019 conducting research on neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease) at the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center in St. Paul.

What were some of the responsibilities of your internship? What did it entail?

As an intern, I was initially responsible for conducting in-depth literature review to familiarize myself with the projects and research the lab was currently working on. After two weeks of literature review and becoming CITI certified to work with animal models, I began conducting pre-clinical, behavioral and medical research – specifically focusing on neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Throughout the internship, I was responsible for dosing animals with medication, intranasally, while also conducting behavioral tests. I performed neurosurgery on animal models and also was responsible for imaging brains under high-magnification microscopes. After producing brain images, I analyzed the different animal model treatment groups via immunohistochemistry. I was also responsible for creating and constructing experiment protocols and writing a review paper on the medications our lab used during the experiments.

How did CSB/SJU prepare you for the internship?

As a CSB/SJU student, I was able to confidently enter the research environment, knowing that I was going to contribute to the research with a unique integrative science background. Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s application-focused science labs taught me not only how to successfully complete science experiments, but how to attack science with an open-minded approach. Because CSB/SJU has labs with a small student-to-faculty ratio, I was able to get the assistance and attention I needed to fully understand the science. Thanks to a plethora of opportunity for tutoring and faculty office hours, I always felt confident that I could receive the extra clarification or help I needed to understand the sciences as best as I could.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

My favorite part of the experience was the opportunity to meet some brilliant and compassionate people in the field that I hope to become an expert in someday. CSB/SJU is known for its expertise in networking, and my internship experience demonstrated that. I met some wonderful individuals who, in a way, took me under their wing to help me get one step closer to reaching my goal of mastering the science that is medicine.

Advice for students interested in neuroscience?

If my two cents are worth anything to students interested in neuroscience, I would suggest the following: Neuroscience is an exponentially growing field and provides so much opportunity for exploration, growth and discovery. Going into neuroscience with an open mind and unbiased perspective is essential for successfully approaching the science. Neuroscience brings together many of the core sciences, such as chemistry, biology and physics. Thus, a solid foundation of knowledge in the core sciences will absolutely strengthen one’s progress in neuroscience.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I plan to take a year off school to work as a medical scribe, EMT or research assistant for a lab. Following that ‘gap’ year, I hope to attend medical school. More than anything, I hope to be an influential leader in the science world, while fulfilling my potential in medically benefiting as many communities as possible. I value compassion and altruism above many things, and I hope to exemplify these characteristics in my life after my undergraduate collegiate experience.