McLaughlin Institute

Meet MRI’s 2018 Summer Interns

This past summer, MRI was delighted to host three student interns, Joseph Guter (Great Falls High School), Oliver Chinn (Sentinel High School, Missoula), and Isabel Gough (Whitman College). The interns worked on characterizing SLC1A4 function and the function of two SLC1A4 mutations known to cause disease in humans. Understanding how mutations affect the function of SLC1A4 will help us understand human disease. Normal SLC1A4 and mutant versions of the gene were expressed in frog oocytes, and the ability of the proteins to transport D-serine was assessed. The students found that one naturally occurring mutation increased D-serine transport, while a second mutation prevented the ability to transport at all. Introducing these mutations into the mouse will let us study the effects of varying D-serine levels in the brain, and provide a model for preclinical testing of drugs targeting SLC1A4.

Joseph Guter is a senior at Great Falls High School and has been interested in science ever since kindergarten.  In first grade he wanted to be an astronaut.  In third grade he wanted to be a meterologist.  In sixth and seventh grade he wanted to be a quantum physicist.  Joseph participated in science fairs through out middle school.  He placed first at the State Science Fair competition in eighth grade by researching what food and bacteria combo would produce the most electricity in a microbial fuel cell.   It was preparing for science fairs that affirmed in Joseph’s mind that he liked conducting experiments  and presenting the results.  The experience solidified in his mind that he wanted to work in a lab finding answers to important questions.   Joseph excels in high school and enjoys every minute of the rigorous  curriculum.  Joseph has aspired to take as many science classes as possible throughout his high school career.  If Joseph gets through Honors Physics and Advanced Chemistry this year, which I am confident he will, he will have successfully taken every single advanced level science course available at Great Falls High.  Bravo Joseph!  

Isabel Gough is in her second year at Whitman College but due to the incredible amount of credits she had earned by the end of her senior year in high school, she was able to begin her college career as a Sophomore. Now a Junior majoring in chemistry, Isabel has settled into college life.  Isabel comes from a stereotypical Asian household where academics are a priority.  She excels in math and chemistry and had taken four math classes before her senior year in high school.  Isabel is so enthusiastic about chemistry that she has the benzene ring structure of serotonin tattooed on her wrist.  In addition to academics, Isabel was first chair, stand up bass in the Great Falls Youth Orchestra.  She was also the all state runner-up goalie on her LaCrosse team.  Isabel has also won various art awards for her artistic abilities.  Isabel is a dedicated youth leader and worship team member at her church and has been on two out reach trips, one to Brazil and one to Atlanta,  where she was part of a team that worked with the homeless and those in need. 

Oliver Chinn is a senior at Sentinel High School in Missoula.   Oliver’s fascination with science began early in life from watching the Magic School Bus and investigating the word around him.  Oliver’s interest in science was jumpstarted when he was introduced to Brain Bee, a world wide neuroscience competition for teenagers.  Through Brain Bee, Oliver had the opportunity to learn about the brain-from neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and dopamine to brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Oliver won the Montana Brain Bee and went on to compete in the national Brain Bee competition in Baltimore.  There Oliver had the opportunity to work with  real human brains, analyze MRIs and histology slides, and formulate a diagnosis for a standardized patient.  The Brain Bee experience created a passion in Oliver for neuroscience.  Oliver is excited to pursue his passion through a career in STEM.






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