Dymonn Johnson is a Jackson State University student studying biology who originally hails from East Saint Louis, Illinois. This past summer, she worked in the labs of Drs. Morten and Hanna Jensen along with U of A graduate students, undergrads, and several Brazilian students participating in the Summer Research Internship program. Below, she answers questions on the nature, scope, and challenges of her summer research, and shares how her goals have shifted moving forward.
UArk BME: What were the goals of your research project?
Johnson: The research goals this summer were to cell culture cardiomyocytes, heart muscle cells, and to create a cardiac cell culture. After I am gone, the cardiomyocytes will be placed inside the cardiac cell culture and ischemia will be induced at will, which means to create a heart attack in vitro.
UArk BME: What was the greatest challenge you faced?
Johnson: My greatest challenge this summer was not getting the cardiomyocytes to beat as planned. Even though it took longer than expected, we waited out and the cardiomyocytes did start beating.
UArk BME: Name three things you learned while researching:
- To perfect the cell culturing technique
- How to build a perfused bioreactor
- Detailed information about hearts and heart attacks
UArk BME: What was it like working with grad students?
Johnson: I loved working with the grad student in our lab because it was easier to get receive help when I did not understand something.
UArk BME: How has this experience impacted your personal goals/plans?
Johnson: Before the start of the program, I was set on pursuing a degree in the field of optometry. Graduate school nor research was even slightly an option, but things have changed. The program has opened my eyes a lot more, and has challenged me to get out comfort zone. I have learned that even though the medical field is the path that I want to pursue, becoming a doctor is not the only way. The summer [SRI] program, the faculty and staff, and the research have changed my mind and overall outlook on graduate school. I plan on applying to the University of Arkansas next fall [and] pursuing an MS or Ph.D.
UArk BME: Anything else you’d care to add?
Johnson: I would like to thank Drs. Morton and Hanna Jensen for bringing me on their team.