Buzzing through my time here

4 weeks. It has been a whole four weeks since I first joined the lab here at inStem/NCBS in Bangalore, and it has already been full of adventure. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling you get when are walking into a completely new life, without knowing what to expect. Will I be able to follow along and make something out of this summer here? How will my mentor and other lab members be?

Anyways, I’ll start from the moment I got of my flight. Apparently, the phone I bought earlier in India doesn’t have coverage in Karnataka. As you might imagine, that caught me off guard, like a lot. And the driver from my research institute that came to pick me up didn’t know any of the languages I knew how to communicate in. I could already see my time in Bangalore was going to be…interesting, to say the least.

Despite those minor setbacks, I came to love the campus I will be calling home for the next couple months. A wonderful surprise was that there were many other summer trainees, like me, who are here to explore what research has to offer. It’s always better when there are others to share your experiences with! I quickly began learning about the different projects the people in my lab were working on and shadowed most of them for a couple days each to figure what I’d like to work on.

From the start, I noticed many slight differences in the way research is conducted in India. Obviously, every lab is different, and this environment I am experiencing could be limited to just inStem. I simply loved the way every single person in the lab could rely on each other for guidance and aid in experiments. Plus, each one seemed almost superhuman the way they handled so many different projects simultaneously, and the amount of knowledge they had stored was incredible. Despite my previous experience, I was able to so much from their current work and their experiences in the first week alone. Another neat thing I found out was that these people also work on Saturdays, so when Sunday finally came up, I took my chance to explore the city. That day we roamed around Indiranagar, one of Bangalore’s newest suburbs; took the metro; saw one of the most beautiful temples in Bangalore; and ended the day at the Orion Mall.

The next week went by in pretty much the same manner, following those in the lab with interesting projects. However, that Thursday I had the chance to meet UMich alumni in the Bangalore region at the Arbor Brewing Company, which was established by a Michigan alumni a few years back. I met some pretty extraordinary people, and even some other Wolverines interning in Bangalore for the summer.

In the third week, I began working on my project for the summer: analyzing the effect of caffeine on the bee’s heart. Caffeine is a big part of our diet in the United States, and similarly in India. Although there have been studies on the effects, some positive and some negative, on the brain and behavior, not many consider the direct effects on the heart. With this project, I will get the opportunity to partake in research completely new to me: there is a big difference between working with stem cells and working with bees.

Now, in this fourth week, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to catch and dissect bees!! Catch my next few blog posts for pictures and exciting updates, including tips on how to catch bees without getting stung. Stay buzzing.

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Vijay Vobbilisetty

Vijay is a sophomore majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He will be spending the summer interning at inStem, an autonomous research institute in Bangalore, India. The institute is funded by the Department of Biotechnology and emphasizes collaborative research on stem cell biology. In his project, Vijay will use state-of the-art disease modeling techniques to bridge the gap in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying inherited cardiomyopathies by analyzing the effects of certain genetic mutations on the physiology and function of cardiomyocytes, muscle cells that compose heart tissue. After his undergraduate experience, Vijay would like to continue to pursue his interest in cardiovascular research and go on to medical school.

One thought on “Buzzing through my time here”

  1. I’m so happy you’re enjoying your time! It’s really great that you’re able to learn so much and from such a supportive group of people. I’m so jealous that you go to visit Arbor Brewing Company- how cool! Your project sounds really cool and I’m excited to learn more about it. However, please don’t tell me about the effects of caffeine, as I am nervous to hear what my many cups of coffee are doing to me each day…..

    Excited to learn more about catching bees!

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