Sama Nanayakkara is newly graduated high school student from St. Catharines who was accepted into the Hamilton Health Sciences High School Health Research Bursary Program. This 7-week summer internship is available to grade 11 and 12 high school students interested in, or accepted into post-secondary health or life sciences programs. Students from all across Ontario apply for a limited number internship positions to become part of a research team. Top ranked applicant, Sama has spent her internship at the Thrombosis & Atherosclerosis Research Institute (TaARI) within the David Braley Research Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud, critical care physician and director of medical education at Hamilton Health Sciences.
What are you enjoying most about your internship?
I’ve sincerely enjoy learning and working with a variety of people from different educational backgrounds at TaARI. Everyone has been so kind and willing to teach me about what they do everyday. Not only have I learned a lot, but I’ve had a lot of fun. It’s nice to work in an environment where people are so willing to help each other.
“This internship has helped me become comfortable and accustomed to a lab environment.”
What have you learned in your internship?
During the short time that I’ve worked here, I quickly learned that while many don’t know what sepsis is, it’s a very dangerous reality for many Canadians. I’ve also learned about a wide variety sepsis research. I’ve been really lucky to be able to work in the wet lab and help with the clinical side of research. This includes learning how to conduct different experiments and how to use the lab equipment. I’ve also done a significant amount of work on, and gained experience with medical records to determine which patients are eligible for a particular study.
What do you find challenging about your internship?
One of the challenges I faced was keeping up with all the unfamiliar medical terminology and acronyms. However, once I looked up the unfamiliar terms, the concepts were not difficult to understand. Since I took note of these during talks and lectures, I was able to make a list of common and uncommon abbreviations and acronyms for future use for myself and the lab.
What career field are you interested in and how will this internship benefit you in your future education and career purists?
I am pursuing a career in Nanotechnology Engineering because I want to play a part in cutting-edge innovation.
Since I hope to work in a lab in the future, this internship has helped me become comfortable and accustomed to a lab environment. I’ve learned valuable skills like data collection and proper lab practices that are sure to provide an advantage in securing one of the competitive co-op positions in my field. Also, since I’m a visual learner, watching my labmates perform experiments has helped me understand the process much more than if I was listening to a lecture.