Carrie Anne Jones ’20 researches the gene related to addictive habits and behavior in mice at Veteran Affairs Hospital in Portland, OR

Hi! My name is Carrie Anne Jones and I’m in the class of 2020, so this year I will be a senior at Whitman! I am a Psychology major, and this summer I’ve been working in a neuropsychology lab at the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Portland, Oregon. The lab I work in is specifically focused on research surrounding drug addiction, which is something very important to me after growing up in Portland and seeing the direct effects of illegal drug use. Though I cannot share full details about my research, the lab I am working in is known for the discovery of a gene directly related to addictive habits and behavior in mice, and many of our studies involve running experiments on mice with and without this gene. This summer, I have been working on two different experiments. The first of these focused on self-administration of methamphetamine in these mice, meaning we observed how much meth they chose to ingest when left with a supply of drug over the course of time. The second experiment I’ve been working on involves directly injecting the animals with meth and bodily responses in addition to levels of various neurotransmitters in their brains.

I have worked in many different labs around Portland in the past, and have learned a lot about animal research in the last few years. Though the practice initially seemed inhumane to me, my time spent working in animal research has shown me how important these studies are, as well as how well the animals are treated in the facility during research. Working with these mice has been a very rewarding experience for me, as it has helped me learn more about the process involved in research (specifically animal research) and has helped me open my mind to the benefits and the drawbacks of animal research.

Prior to this last year, I had declared a Biology major at Whitman. During my junior year, I realized that Psychology was my true interest, and switched departments. I didn’t think that lab work would interest me much, and I was pretty focused on clinical psychology, but decided to work in a lab again this summer due to the connections I’ve made in the OHSU/Portland VA community in past years. Though I wasn’t really considering lab work as a potential career path, I thought this internship would be a great learning opportunity regardless, and would make a nice bridge between my past biology research and my future psychology research. Now that I am halfway through my internship, I can say I am now considering research as a possible career path. Not only is it very interesting and fun to work in, but hearing about all the new information and results that has come out of past studies and knowing that this work is helping other people has been very rewarding.

Experiences like Carrie Anne Jones’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez


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