(Fish) Food for Thought

By Jasmine Thompson, 2014 summer intern

Jasmine in Carrboro with the loveliest of ceramic eggs

My name is Jasmine Thompson and I’m a rising senior here at Duke University. My experience with fish more or less peaks at once having a pet fish that jumped out of its tank, prompting me to swear off fish as pets for the rest of my life. With that in mind, it may seem a little strange that I’m a trainee in a toxicology lab focused on fish. On a broad level, being an intern in Dr. Di Giulio’s lab is especially exciting for me because as a biology major it’s a really nice opportunity to see a lot of the concepts I’ve been introduced to in class actually applied. It’s also a great way to expose myself to situations and ideas I haven’t thought about before. The lab’s focus on pollution, specifically on the response of a little fish known as Fundulus heteroclitus to environmental contaminants, poses a lot of questions about the way we as humans affect our environment and how that in turn affects other organisms. Many of these questions are issues that I’m thinking about for the first time, and I owe at least part of that to these interesting fish.

While I’m here I hope to learn many of the basics of working in a toxicology lab, since this a completely new field for me. I’m also interested in learning the skills needed to work with Fundulus heteroclitus, as I’ve never been involved in research focused on an animal subject and I’m learning that there are a lot of considerations that need to be made when working with fish. Another important goal I’d like to achieve is simply becoming familiar with all the steps of performing research. I think it can be easy to read a published paper and forget the planning, process, and even the missteps that go into conducting good research and I’m really excited to be able to experience it all firsthand.

Since I’m also a pre-med student, I ultimately have the goal of conducting research in addition to being a practicing physician. I think it’d be exciting to combine my two areas of interest both for my own interests and hopefully to the benefit of others. I’m really looking forward to learning a lot in this program and exploring each new question that the Fundulus heteroclitus bring up!