Kara Conlan is an ideal lab member. She has an incredible knack for troubleshooting, volunteers a large portion of her time every week to lab work, and brings an air of friendliness to the lab. She picks up new skills and concepts very quickly and molds herself easily into whatever project you put her on.
Kara is our go to IT helper in the lab. She has fixed connection problems on several pieces of equipment, some of which everyone else in the lab has tried and failed to fix for a year until she set her mind to it and fixed it in an afternoon. She is a chameleon and can work on any component of any project that needs to be completed in the lab. In her time in the Vazey lab, Kara has built electrode arrays for single cell in vivo neuronal recordings, analyzed and presented data that she collected in complex behavioral paradigms with rats, trained and tested her own cohort of rats in operant conditioning, prepared brain samples using immunohistochemical protocols, taken high quality images of these samples using an epifluorescent microscope, written protocols for the lab, and on and on. Kara’s work in each of these specific areas is high quality.
Maybe most importantly, she enjoys learning the theory behind each of the tasks that she performs in the lab. Kara asks excellent questions when she is unsure of an underlying mechanism and shows an eye for detail because she understands why these details are important in the big picture. I often come back to lab after a meeting to find her still there, hours after I left because she is so devoted to doing the full job, doing it right, and helping out in any way she can. She’s always looking for new ways to make other people’s lives easier and takes initiative when she sees a task going undone. She is organized and punctual.
Everyone in the lab enjoys Kara’s company. She folds into a team seamlessly and becomes a uniting member that brings people together. I am confident that Kara will be an asset to any work environment due to her interpersonal and problem solving skills, along with her incredible work ethic. We will definitely feel her absence from the lab when she graduates and are sad to see her go despite our excitement for her very bright future.
-Emma Dauster (Mentor in the Vazey lab, UMass Amherst)