Sophie’s Summer Service Experience

This summer I spent two weeks as a volunteer research assistant to Dr. Markel Allaberia at a the Goldman Lab at Columbia University. The Goldman Lab works specifically on Alexander’s Disease, a fatal neuro degenerative disease similar to MS found in young children. With Dr. Allaberia, we extracted the spinal cords to diseased and healthy mice and immuno stained the spinal cord slices. We stained the spinal cords for myelin basic protein (MBP), a protein essential for oligodendrocyte function, Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), what is believed to be indicator of Alexander’s Disease, and the DNA, so we could locate each individual cell. After performing the stains twice, we looked at the slides under the microscope and obtained the image below.

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All the blue is DNA, in order to isolate each individual cell, the red is MBP, and the green is (GFAP). The work I did with Dr. Allaberia was very preliminary. Most researchers of Alexander’s Disease study the brain, however Dr. Allaberia wanted to see the results of similar stains that he usual preforms on the brain on the spinal cord, as it is essential part of the nervous system.

Teaching Children to Swim

This summer I helped teach children to swim at a local pool. The kids I worked with specifically were 3-7 years old and were very beginner swimmers. All of them had to wear “bubbles”, flotation devices that were strapped onto their backs, whenever they swam because otherwise they could not stay afloat on their own. Each lesson session was 2 weeks long and at the first lesson the kids were often so nervous they would cry the entire time in the water. I taught each kid how to kick, swim on their front, swim on their back, and jump off the side of the pool. Maybe, if they were brave enough, they would jump off the diving board at the end of lessons. Near the end of the two weeks, we would have the kids swim a lap of the pool without the bubbles or a noodle, all by themselves. We were right next to them walking alongside the entire time, just in case they needed help but almost all of them could swim by themselves by the end of the two week which was a huge improvement from crying on the first day.

I think my work is reflective of Woolman’s quote “Stewardship is a coming together of our major testimonies. To be good stewards in God’s world calls on us to examine and consider the ways in which our testimonies for peace, equality, and simplicity interact to guide our relationships with all life.” Being a competitive swimmer and knowing to swim myself started with swimming lessons at a town pool as well, I feel it is necessary to give back to a community that gave me so much. Additionally, teaching these kids to swim is only a step further to making drowning no longer the leading cause of death in children.