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Saul Kushinsky

At the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester I began to think about summer activities.  I set myself two goals at that time: find a scientific internship, and find a way to be in Israel.  A few brief Google searches later and there it was, The Kupcinet-Getz Undergraduate Summer Program at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.  The application was straightforward and easy. I needed to submit a transcript, a resume, at least one letter of recommendation, and a one page letter of motivation.  A few months of waiting, and then I received an email saying I was accepted.

The Weizmann Institute is a scientific institute where only graduate students are enrolled.  Therefore, to be an undergraduate at the institute is a special honor, and provides unique opportunities for learning.  I worked with Dr. Eran Hornstein investigating the roles of microRNAs in neuron cells.  I worked closely with a Post-Doctorate student and was able to perform my own experiments after some initial instruction.
At UMass I explore questions related to structural biology.  What surprised me most about my experience at the Weizmann Institute is the similarity of the experiments.  Many of the experiments utilized the exact same principles I utilize at UMass, even though the area of research was very different.  Additionally, I was able to learn new techniques, and expand my knowledge of how biological systems work.  At the end of the program, I presented my work to the other members of the program and also wrote an abstract.  This was a slightly challenging as many of the mathematicians did not know much about biology.  On the weekends I travelled around the country with my new friends, the other participants in the program.  They were from all over the world we had many interesting discussions and debates that ranged from philosophy to music.  The combination of working in the laboratory with insightful and enjoyable discussions created an amazing summer I will not soon forget.