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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
By Liv Combe
I have quite a passion for fashion. So when I found out about the unique opportunity that is Winter Term, my thoughts immediately flew to some sort of internship at a fashion magazine in New York. It was a bold aspiration to aim so high, especially as a first-year, but I got lucky and ws hired by the Accessories department at W, one of the foremost fashion magazines in the world. It was decided that I would spend the month of January in the big city, handling shoes and bags and jewelry that undoubtedly cost thousands of dollars and that, under normal circumstances, I would never get my hands on. When my flight took off from Columbus, I was just sure - OMG! - that this would be the coolest experience ever.
Did you ever see "The Devil Wears Prada"? Remember the bitchy boss, the eating disordered coworkers, the ridiculously long hours, and the kind of unhealthy, life-controlling, obsessive hold that the job takes on people? Unfortunately, this film was not too far-fetched. But at least Anne Hathaway got to go places and get free clothes.
I would wake up before the sun, ride 45 minutes on the subway, work for up to 13 hours without any time or space to myself, go back home, have fitful dreams about sorting endless piles of Christian Louboutin shoes, then do it all over again the next day. For the majority of my time in New York all I got to see was the A and 7 subway lines and the couple of blocks between the Grand Central stop and the Conde Nast building on Third Avenue.
I'm definitely focusing on the negative aspects of my internship at W. Although I definitely hated it with a burning passion at some points, it was still a good experience. Like I said, I got not only to see but handle/try on/toss around more designer merchandise than a girl could ever dream of. All the other interns were great, and it could be a lot of fun just hanging out with them, checking in items and bitching incessantly about the Accessories editors. I also got to drink Starbucks every day.
I definitely still love fashion. But now I realize that I love writing and travel even more. I thought that it would be a dream job to work at a magazine like W, but it turns out that it's not for me. I'm too sarcastic to take people seriously when they flip out about jewelry trays not being stacked straight. This winter term helped me realize that, and for this reason I am so glad that I was able to temporarily assume the revered title of "Conde Nastie". One month, I found, was quite sufficient. And now I can move on with my life.
When I heard that watching "animal porn" was one of the necessary responsibilities of working in Professor Cruz's lab, I thought twice about my choice of winter term projects. I was relieved to learn that this task simply consisted of tracking the matings of our lab opossums, so that we could date the age of the embryos we were studying to the minute of their conception. My winter term project was conducting research in the developmental biology lab on campus, and learning basic laboratory techniques, including dissection, dehydration and preparation, and staining of slides for microscopic analysis. I also learned about several current research topics in the field of developmental biology.
My research pertained to progesterone receptors in opossum uteri. Female opossums do not have a progesterone peak during the second phase, known as the luteal phase, of the estrus cycle. This may be due to more progesterone receptors in the uterine tissue, creating the same response that a peak in progesterone would initiate. Alternatively, there may be a different hormone that fulfills the role of progesterone. It is possible that this hormone is early pregnancy factor (EPF).
EPF is interesting because it is an immuno-suppressant. Logically, a mother's antigens would attack the foreign tissue of the embryo that is in her body. However, EPF prevents the immune system from attacking the embryo, allowing for her pregnancy. The same situation arises in certain autoimmune diseases, such as MS, in which an individual's immune system attacks self-cells. Expression of EPF in this situation could inhibit attack and prevent degeneration of the tissue.
I will continue my research this semester, and hope to come to a conclusion by the end of the school year. However, this will not be the end of my research experience. My professor has helped me to network with Oberlin Alumni and I have been offered an internship at a professional proteomics lab in Spain this summer. I would never have imagined that my winter term research would provide me such a great opportunity!