GREAT FALLS — Kendal Blades knows mice. The CMR graduate and MSU sophomore spent the last eight weeks studying gene mutation as part of the McLaughlin Research Institute's summer internship program.
"I didn’t really know what to expect since I’ve never been in an environment quite like the one at the McLaughlin Research institute,” said Blades. “I really loved the experience and I thought that it really helped me a lot in my future endeavors in school and everything.”
Blades is one of ten high school or college students from Great Falls taking part in the 66th edition of the internship program.
High school juniors, seniors and college students are eligible for the program. They apply in the spring and if selected, spend time under the watchful eye of the institute’s leading researchers and assistants, focusing on neurogenetic research topics ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to ALS and more.
For California Institute of Technology sophomore and Great Falls High graduate Cameron McNamee, a math major with a biology minor, the internship served as his introduction to research.
“They did an extremely good job of easing us into the process, teaching us the fundamentals before letting us go in the lab,” said McNamee. “I thought that was wonderful. They did a very good job of accommodating for the different levels of education and experience between the interns. You have juniors in college down to juniors in high school. It’s a very difficult thing and they managed it very well I thought.”
Great Falls High graduate and Pacific Lutheran sophomore Camilee Boland is considering majoring in pre-med. She says the experience is helping her as she decides between the research or medical clinical side.
“The experience has been great, all of the staff has been terrific,” said Boland. “All of my fellow interns helped me understand the things I didn’t understand. And they were really good collaborators in general.”
McNamee calls the opportunity to intern at McLaughlin a life-changing experience.
“To have the opportunity to do something as profound as this, to meet the people that you meet here at this age is more than anyone could ever ask for,’ said McNamee. “I think that this is a wonderful opportunity and everyone who gets a chance to take advantage of it should. I think this has the ability to change your career as a whole.”
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