Undergraduate Lab Experiences

I had the privilege to participate in research concerning frog brain anatomy and frog ABR during my senior year in Dr. McCullagh’s lab. Reaching out to my other co-mentor, Dr. Jodie Wiggins, during the summer of 2020 to ask if any research teams were available for me to join was one of the best decisions I made throughout all of my college years! In Dr. McCullagh’s lab, I joined Team Frog and was able to collaborate with and learn from graduate students. My duties in the lab consisted of slicing frog brains and staining them to try to identify key structures we believe to be associated with the binaural response frogs have to sound processing, and assisting with ABR recordings. My favorite part of my research was learning how to slice brains on the sliding microtome, because it is a hands-on technique that produces beautifully thin-sliced sections. Second to that, I had the opportunity to present our lab’s work at the Karen L. Smith undergraduate research symposium, which was a fulfilling way to end the year’s research. I will truly miss participating in the lab’s work, and the graduate and undergraduate students I met along the way. Dr. McCullagh has been a wonderful mentor and has helped to develop my appreciation of science and its process, and has provided me with a space to apply new lab techniques I had not anticipated I could excel in! (Molly Hood)

I joined Dr. McCullagh’s lab in 2020, during my junior year at Oklahoma State. I had never done research before, so I wasn’t totally sure what I was getting myself into. Been a science major allowed me to have experience in a lab setting, but to be honest I hadn’t loved most of the lab classes I’d taken. I think this was probably due to the fact that in many lab classes it feels like you get very little explanation of how to do procedures or experiments correctly, why you’re doing a particular experiment, and that you can’t make any mistakes because they will affect your grade. Fortunately, in Dr. McCullagh’s lab the experience is completely opposite. I’m actively engaged in research, not just trying to hit certain checkpoints so that I can turn in an assignment, get a grade, and move on.

I’m a part of Team Mouse, and specifically throughout the last year I have been working on a project concerning Mus spicilegus mice. I deal with the anatomy of their brains, which means slicing, staining, and analyzing them. Throughout the past year I feel like I’ve gotten to put the knowledge I’ve learned in classes to practical use. I’ve learned about antibodies and hormones multiple times over the years, but through actually understanding their practical implications in the brain and using them to stain areas of interest I have a much deeper understanding of them. I’ve also gained skills such as using a vibratome, staining techniques, and using software to measure areas of the brain that I wouldn’t have learned in my classes or labs. I feel like I can ask questions and make mistakes without fear of repercussions, and I actually have a desire to learn about what I’m doing, not just to get through it for the sake of getting a grade. Participating in research is an experience that I wouldn’t get anywhere else in college, and I can’t wait to see what the next 6 months before I graduate hold! (Addi Gaut)