WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- This summer I had the privilege of working with my advisor and faculty golf affiliate, professor Steve Swoap. I took Physiology with him in the spring and his research (also physiology-based) was a nice way to apply what we learned in the classroom to lab work.
Professor Swoap works with mice and studies their physiological response to environmental as well as internal stressors in the form of "torpor." "Torpor" is a highly debated topic but I usually describe it as hibernation for a small animal whose temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure drop due to lack of food and time of day.
I walked into the first day of the summer lab expecting to shadow as I always do and help out with busywork. My role in the lab, however, was much more hands on and intellectually stimulating. I was pleasantly surprised to find my involvement in the work, assisting with surgeries as well as performing some myself, troubleshooting problems, data analysis, and providing the occasionally cheesy joke.
|Prof. Steve Swoap|
"Cori has been an integral part of our lab this summer," stated Swoap. "Cori and the rest of the crew made some new key discoveries about the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar during a fast as well as the cardiovascular changes that occur when a mammal dives under water. It turns out that fasting and diving have several conserved physiological components, such as the reduction in heart rate and constriction of blood vessels to the skin. Cori has a great intellectual curiosity for understanding how things work, and was able to channel that curiosity towards furthering our understanding in integrative physiology."
Outside of lab, I filled my time on the links, watching Netflix, and studying for the Dental Admission Test. On the weekends, I would explore the surrounding areas traveling as far as Crystal Springs in New Jersey, Boston, and even a trip back home to Canada. We, as a lab, also hung out quite a bit outside of our time down in the animal facility and of course there was the Annual Biology Department Mini Putt-Putt Tournament, where the six-person team I was on won.
Professor Swoap spent his sabbatical year partnering with a lab at the University of Bologna and invited a PhD student there to work with him. Our lab became very close to Alice Valli and her delicious Italian pasta meals!! I loved my summer exploring the Berkshires and hope to do it again!
Cori Chan is a junior from Windsor, Ontario who plays on the Eph women's golf team and writes for Eph Sports Info. She is a two-time All-American and a two-time Women's Golf Coaches Association Scholar-All-American. She also writes for both the Eph men's and women's ice hockey teams, and women's golf, in her work-study job in Eph Sports Info.