Bericht 2014 Michelle Keller

To the Board of the Swiss Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science

Dear Board members,

This past month was truly incredible – there's no better way to describe it. When I attempt to recall everything I experienced in Israel, my mind is flooded with countless unforgettable memories and pure happiness. I've made so many friends for life, with whom I had the opportunity to conduct real research at Weizmann and to discover the country of Israel. I'd like to show my greatest thanks for enabling me to participate in the ISSI 2014.

Before takeoff heading to Israel, it already felt like we Swiss participants had known each other for ages as we could immediately relate to one another and were headed to the greatest adventure together. Although I had heard and read a lot about ISSI and Israel, none of my expectancies met what we experienced even closely. After arrival, we immediately were welcomed warmly to the Youth Village by the counselors and the other teenagers from across the globe and dived into the world of Weizmann. I could hardly believe I was so fortunate to make all these wonderful friends who come from completely different cultures but still have so much in common: The fascination for science and the eagerness to discover the world.

For the scientific part of the program, my two lab partners and I studied how "SARAF", a negative regulatory protein for calcium signaling processes, affects the proliferation rate of mouse embryonic fibroblast cells and the movement control in mice. As our lab work consisted of two main experiments, we utilized a broad array of scientific methods such as the infection and transfection of cells, immunohistochemical staining and locomotion experimenting with mice. Our mentor, our supervisor and all members of the Reuveny lab kindly introduced us to their scientific research with great patience and were always there to advise us if we happened to encounter any obstacles. I am extremely grateful to have had such great lab partners and lab members who motivated me even more to become a researcher in biology or chemistry with their passion for their research.

Despite the special security situation, we were still able to make our wishes to the Western Wall, discover the history of Caesarea, go snorkeling in Eilat, sunbathe in the Dead Sea, go hiking in the Galilee, the Judean and Negev desert and so much more thanks to the ISSI coordinators' planning. A memory I greatly cherish is the concert we held at Chaim Weizmann's house with the president of the Weizmann Institute during repeated alarms. Everyone was singing the "ISSI fourteen" song we composed together, holding hands while seated on the floor in the safest area of the house. There are millions of people in the world that have to deal with military conflicts, but nevertheless try their best to continue with everyday life. The situation surely was unfamiliar to me at first, but at the same time it was very bonding among us participants and made me realize how fortunate we are.

My favorite part of the program, however, was the night hike and sleeping under the stars in the desert. It was so incredible to gaze at shooting stars together with the other participants and the counselors, which have become like a family to me. We've experienced so many things together and will surely stay in touch in the future.

In short, ISSI was the best summer in my life. I would like to thank you for making this incredible month at Weizmann possible. This experience has changed the way I see the world and opened many doors for me. The Weizmann Institute of Science felt like home; a place I would have loved to stay for a couple of years longer. Now I am certain the world of research is where I want to be.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Michelle Keller

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