April 24, 2013, by Yvonne Teoh

Life of an Intern – Research in Animal Behaviour (Part 1)

Working in Cerca Insights, Penang gave me a brand new experience in the field of psychology. Before this, what was taught in class about animal behaviour and psychopharmacology could only be read in textbooks and articles, but here in Cerca Insights, I was exposed to the devices and methods used in these areas of research. For instance, the forced swim test, locomotion activity, rotorod, catalepsy, and other experiments related to animal behavior.

I was taught how to handle animals in a proper and ethical way, especially with mice and rats. In addition, I gained more understanding about these rodents such as the optimum environment for their living, their most sensitive body parts, their life cycle, and ways to monitor their health. I was lucky to have witnessed a female rat gave birth to her pups, which to me was a rare experience. The only downfall of the job was that in the end of an experiment such as cardiac puncture, the rodents were culled in a humane way.

The most exciting part of this internship was the opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions in carrying out the studies, and becoming a part of the team responsible in conducting the studies. For example, I was able to improve the methods of keeping the rats healthy, prepare protocols and conduct statistical analysis for diet restriction studies on rats, and testing methods in sexual dysfunction studies on rats. However, due to the fact that data collection in sexual dysfunction studies was rather time consuming, I was unable to be fully involved in the data analysis.

Overall, the working environment encouraged me to acquire lots of new knowledge and gained new experiences. It also led me to work in a more disciplined manner because it was one of the most crucial elements when carrying out tasks during this internship. Apart from the working experience, I also had the privilege to try lots of good Penang food and visited many wonderful places after work. It was indeed an awesome summer break!

Tan Xing Yeing
(Year 3 Student in BSc (Hons.) Psychology, UNMC)

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