Beyond the Classroom: a Biophysics Lab Experience

Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, conducts research at his summer research internship at Rowan.

Meet Gaspare Carollo, a senior from Marlton, NJ (Burlington County) majoring in Biophysics from the College of Science & Mathematics. This summer, he was able to partake in an research internship at Rowan. Today, he will share with us his experience working at the lab and some of the projects he worked on.

Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, conducts research at his summer research internship at Rowan. Gaspare is a transfer student from Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC). He earned his associate degree in Chemical Engineering and now plans to get his bachelor’s in Biophysics.

“Biophysics is a combination of many sciences — biology and physics for the majority. It looks at things on a molecular level. And it takes the physics on what’s going on, why is it happening and you kind of figure out why and how things work,” Gaspare said.

After talking to Dr. Nathaniel Nucci, assistant professor from the departments of Biomedical & Translational Sciences and Physics & Astronomy about the different summer programs he was looking into, Dr. Nucci told him about the summer internship offered at Rowan.Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, works at his summer research internship at Rowan.

“I told him I was a senior and hopefully going into the workforce soon. I was just trying to get my foot in the door and get hands-on experience because you can get all the A’s and B’s you want and have a 3.3 or 3.6 GPA, but without the hands-on experience you’re going to go onto the working field lacking,” he explained.

This summer, Gaspare got the chance to work on two projects. The first project had to do with purifying proteins, which Gaspare explained it as:

“One of the things about the protein purification that we’ve done is that they fluoresce. It’s one of those things we do for bioimaging. If we want to know where this medicine is going or where this disease or tumor is located, you inject the patient with a particular protein that we know fluoresces at a certain wavelength or fluoresces at a certain light. Basically, the thing you want to see will glow, and that is the whole point of the proteins we are looking at. There are many other reasons for purifying proteins, but that’s the one we were looking into.” 

The second project Gaspare worked on had to do with quantum dots. Quantum dots are used in a lot of electronics and medical issues. “What we are trying to do is find a better, more feasible way to find quantum dots,” Gaspare said. “They are made in high pressure and high temperatures, which is very expensive and dangerous, and we’re trying to find a way to make them in room temperature and atmospheric pressures.”

Gaspare Carollo, a biophysics major from Marlton, NJ, works at his summer research internship at Rowan. Gaspare is doing his work under a hood at regular temperature and regular pressure, because it’s much safer and financially achievable for most labs.

“If we can perfect and control the size of quantum dots then we can control what kind light it fluoresces and from there fabrications are all over the place,” he said.

Gaspare would like to do research and development after he graduates. He would love to be part of a team that would eventually come up with something to make a difference in the way people are medically treated. He says, “What if we can do chemo where it doesn’t hurt the individual, what if we can do chemo where it only hurts the tumor and doesn’t make them sick? To be a part of something like that and make a difference would be amazing and to be a part of that would be a dream.”

Gaspare’s advice for anyone wanting to major in Biophysics is to not expect an easy ride, but if you are willing to put in the time and the effort then the outcome and final result will all be worth it.

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Story by:
Iridian Gonzalez, senior journalism major

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