My Summer with C. elegans

By Alexa Allen, Summer Research Intern in Dr. Joel Meyer’s Lab

This summer, I worked in Dr. Joel Meyer’s lab and learned a ton about environmental toxicology. I studied C. elegans, a small worm, that is often used in toxicology experiments. Specifically I studied what happens to their mitochondria when they are exposed to environmental toxicants, which can help us learn more about risks to people who are exposed to the same or similar chemicals.

C. elegans
Alexa Allen

I previously worked with C. elegans, but this project allowed me to learn about them in greater depth. I faced a lot of challenges – there were times when I messed up experiments, but I learned from those experiences, and successfully did them the next time. By the end of my internship, I got the hang of the lab work, and now I really enjoy it, even the really simple tasks.

The lab environment helped make this summer so much fun. People might think that working in a lab is boring, but the Meyer lab always had engagement activities to do together. The hands-on aspect of the work was the perfect way to help me better understand molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and toxicology. Because of my work this summer at Duke, I have a greater interest in environmental toxicology.