ELLSWORTH — Sam Horne and Dylan Taplin recognize that scientific research can be tedious at times, carefully pipetting for hours, gingerly moving samples from one place to another. But the Ellsworth High School seniors say that’s part of the excitement.
“You’re nervous. You don’t want to make a mistake,” Taplin says.
Taplin spent this past summer working as an intern at the GenoTyping Center of America (GTCA), a biotech startup with offices in the Union River Center for Innovation in downtown Ellsworth. Horne, who is part of the biomedical sciences program at Hancock County Technical Center, is a current intern at GTCA, where he comes twice each week to satisfy the internship requirement for graduation.
The GenoTyping Center of America provides testing services to companies that want to know which genes are in a DNA sample. The company works mostly with rat and mouse DNA, but has recently started identifying genes in yeast that may extend the shelf life of beer.
Taplin plans to study biology and neuroscience in college and says that practicing scientific techniques will serve him well in the future.
“The worst part about research for me is the meticulous, fine motor skills that are required,” Taplin said. “Getting used to doing that kind of stuff is probably good, since I plan on going into research.”
He also appreciated having time alone with the researchers to inquire about topics he doesn’t get to ask about in class.
“Eventually my bio teacher would tell me to stop asking questions,” Taplin said. “But being here I could pepper Carrie (Carrie LeDuc, one of the founders of GTCA) with questions.”
Horne, who plans on studying biochemistry or biomedical engineering in college, is also interested in research. He says the repetitive nature of daily lab work can be taxing, but it doesn’t bother him.
“It’s very stressful. There are a lot of tiny things and you have to do them a lot of times,” Horne said. “It’s cool to see what the researchers who send you the sample are doing and find their results for them.”
Both boys credit their high school teachers with engaging them in science.
“I was kind of surprised when I enjoyed biology,” Taplin said. “But I had a teacher — Ms. Falabella — who made it interesting.”
“I’ve always been interested in science,” Horne said. “My teacher, Sarah Petroulis, has really made everything we’ve done interesting. She’s really shown me the other options of what you can do with a science education. It’s broadened my view of it. There are a lot more options than I thought there were.”