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King University News :: Christina Melcher Interns at Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital

Orlando, Florida native Christina Melcher has always been interested in the science of the brain. When she came to King University in 2011, she knew Neuroscience was the program for her. This past summer, Melcher, a junior who will graduate from King in 2015, participated in a six-week internship at Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital in Boston, Mass. 

Melcher’s interest in Neuroscience stems from the loss of her brother to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). During the summer of 2012 while she was performing charity work for the Florida SIDS Alliance, Melcher met a researcher who introduced her to the possibilities of interning at a SIDS research lab.

While at Boston Children’s Hospital, Melcher interned with the Kinney Research Lab, overseen by Dr. Hannah Kinney, an associate in Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital and professor of Pathology with Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kinney’s research focuses on clinical/translational neuroscience and brain injury in the premature infant. Much of Kinney's research is directed at defining the causes of SIDS, focusing specifically on the arcuate nucleus in the ventral medulla area of the brainstem. 

During her internship, Melcher served as a lab technician. She also worked on her own research project called the foot length project, where she determined the correlation between an infant’s foot length and gestational weight. Melcher also had the opportunity to spend time in conferences alongside Harvard Medical School residents. 

“It was a great experience.  It opened career possibilities to me that I’d never thought of before,” says Melcher. “I’d never really thought about research before, but this experience has opened a whole new door.

“King prepared me well for the experience.  I was confident in my knowledge and didn’t second-guess anything I had to contribute,” adds Melcher. 

Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis, Associate Professor of Biology and Program Director for the Neuroscience major at King, notes that Christina’s willingness to meet opportunities head on contributed strongly to her successful summer. “Many students are a bit nervous to go somewhere new, and to challenge themselves at a level that is entirely out of their comfort zone. But Christina saw this as an adventure, and as a chance to see what she could really do. This is exactly what helped her make the most out of a wonderful research experience.”

During Melcher’s internship, Dr. Kinney informed King’s Career Success Center that Christina was doing a fantastic job. Kinney noted, “She is consciousness, engaged, and a pleasure with which to work.  She has two projects she is working on, and they are both going well.  What has really been remarkable is that Christina has just taken the bull by the horns and moved analysis in one particular project along in important ways by coming up with ideas herself.  This kind of independence and initiative and thoughtfulness by a college student in a summer project is just not the norm around here.  It is wonderful to see.”

Just prior to the completion of her internship, Melcher presented her research project to the lab’s researchers and investigators, several of which attended via conference call from Northern Plains South Africa and South America. Upon completion of her project, all were pleased with her progress. 

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime that I couldn’t pass up. Dr. Kinney told me I was welcome to come back anytime. It’s possible I may go back next summer,” concludes Melcher.

For more information about internship opportunities, contact King’s Director of Career Services Finley Green at 423.652.4865 or flgreen@king.edu, Regional Director of Career Development Donna Felty at 423.652.4752 or dhfelty@king.edu, or in Knoxville contact Andrea Hurst, director of Career Success Center, at 865.769.3123 or andreachurst@king.edu.  For information on King’s Neuroscience program, contact Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis at 423.652.6322 or vafitsan@king.edu.

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