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CAHNRS Department of Horticulture Genomics Lab

Undergraduate – Karla Rivera

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Karla Rivera


Your name and what is/was your background (what is your major, why science, etc)?
Karla Rivera
BS in Medical Sciences from WSU
Currently working on Master’s degree in Physician Assistant studies at UW
During the course of my undergraduate degree I worked as a teaching assistant in a cadaver-based anatomy lab, joined a research lab, and was awarded a scholarship to travel to Guatemala with a non-profit organization that provided medical care to rural residents.

Why did you decide to join a research lab? How did the experience compare to what you had expected?
The opportunity to join a research lab came up during my junior year at WSU. I was very interested in working with people of different backgrounds and working in a team environment. My experience in the lab really lived up to the expectations I had. Once in the lab I was able to apply what I had learned from many science courses; the hands-on experience was beyond my expectations.

What was cool, exciting or most interesting about your time in the lab?
Working with DNA was the most exciting!! It was amazing to work with something so small and realize that even though not visible to the naked eye it existed. Another interesting thing in the lab was getting used to working with small measurements, such as microns.

If you would recommend conducting research in a science lab to others, what would you tell them to get them interested in the idea?
Definitely try it! You will not regret it. It is a great experience and the perfect setting to apply what you have learned from other science courses.

We’d love to know what you’re up to, so please give us a brief description of where you are working or going to school now.
I am currently working on a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant studies at University of Washington. I expect to graduate in Aug of 2013 and work in a Primary Health Care setting.

Did the lab experience help you with your classes or your perspective about science? Did working in the lab help you with developing other skills like time management or communication?
Working in the lab allowed me to see the big picture of science. It put many of my sciences classes in perspective. When PCR or plasmids were mentioned in lecture I knew what they were and how they worked. Also, when taking a microbiology lab I knew what agar plates were, how to streak bacteria, and perform other procedures.

Was there anything in particular you would have liked us to do different to enhance your learning or interest from the time spent in the lab?
I feel that I got the most out of my time in the lab. I learned a lot and became more interested in the health care career I am now pursuing.

Do you feel better prepared for the workplace or future academic endeavors as a result of your time in the lab?
By providing undergraduate students the opportunity to work in a research lab they obtain a valuable experience that can be easily applied in any future workplace or academic pursuit. Not only is the science applicable but also skills such as teamwork, communication, and critical thinking. Due to the time spent in this research lab, I am better prepared for graduate-level science courses.