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Boston Leadership Institute: Ryan McCann

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Boston Leadership Institute: Ryan McCann

Ryan McCann, right, got to explore Boston during a course at Boston Leadership Institute.

Ryan McCann spent part of his summer taking a course through Boston Leadership Institute.

Why did you choose to participate in a STEM summer program?

I have always been fascinated by genetics and the tools scientists use to modify genes. The introductory genetics lessons in the Biological Research course at Boston Leadership Institute gave me a good background which made me feel more confident as we moved further along into the more difficult and advanced topics

How did you decide which STEM field was right for you?

I have eclectic interests which bridge many branches of STEM, but I knew the biological sciences were more interesting to me because it combines all the other sciences. Chemistry is useful in the study of proteomics and genetics, while physics is useful in understanding motion and why a species may have evolved in a particular way.

What was a typical day like in your summer program?

Each day, classes would start with the teacher, Jim Dixon, giving a lecture. We would study some principle or revolutionary technology in genetics. Then, after lunch, we would go down to the Dana Hall Labs, and the teaching assistants would have a lab prepared. We would spend time doing the lab in groups, and during waiting periods, we would be able to work on our presentations.

What was the most memorable moment of your program?

My favorite moment was the last couple days of classes, when we all gave our presentations. Every student had been working hard, and I learned a lot about different problems. We could do a research project, where we just discuss a problem, or a design project, where we could research a problem, and propose a solution using genetic engineering.

What advice do you have for teens looking at STEM degrees or summer programs?

Follow your interests and look for a project or path that can give you a combination of things that you want. I’m currently in a lab that combines neuroscience and genetics research for Alzheimer’s, my main points of interest. This just shows that you can do stuff that makes a difference, while also focusing on the stuff that really interests you. Boston Leadership Institute helped me realize what I wanted, and gave me the confidence and knowledge needed to go out and reach my goal.