W&J senior works on NASA project at Johns Hopkins

Created: July 19, 2019
Last Updated: December 17, 2019

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WASHINGTON, PA (July 19, 2019)—Completing a study sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) may seem daunting for an undergraduate student, but for Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) psychology major Brach Herzig ’20, it’s all in a day’s work.

This summer, Brach is interning with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, working on a project that examines the effects radiation exposure has on the central nervous system, in particular focusing on astronauts’ potential exposure to radiation.

“To simulate a space mission that extends beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere, many Long-Evans rats were exposed to certain amounts of controlled radiation for different lengths of time,” Brach said. “The behavior of the rats after exposure to radiation is then observed at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine through many different tasks that the rats must complete.”

In the lab, Brach has worked with the rats through memory testing, collecting biotic samples, and observing affected cells under a microscope. He’s been able to work with and learn from W&J alumna Catherine Davis-Takacs ’04, Ph.D.

With the support and encouragement of W&J Professor of Biology Candy DeBerry, Ph.D., Brach was able to get in touch with Dr. Davis-Takacs and ultimately join her lab. The experience is one he couldn’t have done without W&J—and something he immensely appreciates.

“This internship has provided me not only the opportunity to explore a topic that interests me but also allowed me to explore a potential career path,” he said. “I credit this opportunity to Dr. DeBerry and her class during JayTerm that helped tremendously with applying to science-related internships. I highly recommend it to all future students who are interested in finding a science-related internship.”

Brach’s internship experience is supported by W&J’s Franklin Internship Award.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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