Kayla Toshie Wilhoit


Being a part of NIGINTERN 2022 was a truly amazing experience. Upon arriving in Japan, I was warmly welcomed to NIG and joined the Kitano group in the Ecological Genetics Laboratory. My colleagues in the Kitano lab were always willing to help me with any problems or questions I had, and all of the staff at NIG took good care of us during the program. During the six weeks of the internship, I was able to develop my skills and participate in some fascinating research in the laboratory. I primarily worked on a computational project to investigate the influence of diet and habitat on gene copy number in mammals, but I was also able to design PCR primers for characterizing chromosome inversions in stickleback fishes. I am planning to pursue a PhD in computational biology and genetics, and this internship has provided me with invaluable research experience and learning.

Outside of the lab, meeting the other amazing interns was the highlight of the summer. All of the interns came from different places and backgrounds, and it was incredible to spend time cooking, talking, and laughing together. We were able to travel to so many places in Japan together, from the beach in Numazu to the streets of Tokyo. While going to the fish market or climbing Mt. Fuji, I was also able to develop friendships with graduate students and professors from NIG. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet all of these amazing people, and for the schedule flexibility which allowed us to make so many memories together.

This internship has been very inspiring as I continue to develop my career in biological research, and I would highly recommend the NIGINTERN program and NIG for those interested in learning at an institution performing cutting-edge biological research. My sincere thanks to the NIGINTERN program coordinators, the Academic Services Division, the NIG employees, and the Kitano lab for making this an incredible summer!