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West ’16 Confirms Interest in Chemistry Career

Korbin West ’16 - Since I started my internship, I’m quickly learning how little I really know about chemistry. And that is a fantastic feeling. While my internship is flying by, I’m trying to pick up as much as I can because there is no better learning environment than an immersive one, like that provided by the Indiana Internship Program. For the past month I’ve been working at Perfinity Biosciences, a small bioscience company in West Lafayette. Perfinity mainly focuses on proteomics, the study of proteins. Every person is made of tons and tons of proteins, just like the hemoglobin in our blood or the insulin in our pancreas. However, there is still so much the world doesn’t know about proteins, which is where Perfinity steps in.

Without getting too technical, we find ways to break down and analyze these proteins so others can discover more information about them. Imagine you find a newspaper that has been crumpled up into a ball, this will be our example protein. To be able to read the paper (a.k.a. extract information from the protein), we have to find a way to un-crumple it without ruining it. In a way, this is what Perfinity does for other researchers/drug companies, so that they can find new ways to battle disease and discover more secrets of the body.

West '16 transfers a protein solution to test tubes, allowing him to simultaneously monitor a dozen reactions over the course of a day.

West ’16 transfers a protein solution to test tubes, allowing him to simultaneously monitor a dozen reactions over the course of a day.

As an intern, I spend a lot of my time helping out wherever I can. The majority of my time is spent in the lab, where I have various responsibilities. My daily activities range from making stock solutions for our spectroscopy equipment, to validating old protocols and researching new ones. My time here has greatly helped me develop my chemistry skill set, as well as strengthening my abilities in many other aspects. Although some of my work is quite challenging, I’m continually learning from my co-workers how to approach these issues and I’m picking up plenty of new techniques and methods. However, just like any liberal arts experience, I’m learning much more than just the chemistry behind it. Whether it’s discussing the economics behind our product, presenting results at company meetings, or anything in-between, I’m constantly rounding out my experience.

The past couple weeks have been an absolutely incredible time for me. I continuously wonder if I’m going into the right field, as I’m sure is also the case for many of my fellow classmates. I would ask myself “What if I can’t stand working in the lab all day?” or “What if I don’t have what it takes to make it?” Now, I’m happy to say, that I don’t find myself asking these questions anymore. I’ve enjoyed every second of my time here at Perfinity and although I’m not nearly done with working to improve my skills and proficiency in chemistry, I feel confident in my decision to pursue chemistry.

 

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