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Things I Never Knew – Summer 2023 Skin & Biosubstrates Research Internship

My name is Casey Posner, and I am a rising senior studying Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design at the University of Toledo in Ohio. I have spent the past three months as the intern for the Skin & Bio-Substrates team, and let me tell you, I was exposed to a whole other world.

As a kid, I was always intrigued by how things were made. This curious nature of mine continued as I grew. My infatuation with chemistry flourished as I went through my classes, but I truly had an admiration for the hands-on applications. Something about mixing things together and seeing what happens fuels a fire within my soul.

In studying cosmetic science, I knew there would be a chance for me to create. Through my course work I get to see the formulation and testing processes, but here at TRI I got to experience creativity in an analytical sense. Here I got to utilize techniques such as spectroscopy and chromatography to analyze hair, skin, and cosmetic formulations. I learned more about hair and skin in my three-month tenure than I have in my entire life, and I still have much to learn.

TRI has shown me that no matter how much time one has spent on a subject, there is still so much to uncover. Research is a world of unknown. Scientists chip away at pieces of these unknowns and develop well-formed stories to explain why. In my time at TRI, I was lucky enough to help in method development across a couple different forums. One being the identification of active ingredients through the epidermis via HPLC. Others including penetration of different materials, such as amino acids and dyes, through hair fibers. As well as learning about clinical methods, microscopy, protein analysis and many other analytical techniques.

While I have gained many skills at TRI that I can place on a resume, there are others I cannot. Throughout the method development process, I learned to let my creativity be an asset and not a hinderance. I have grown to accept failure and let it guide me towards success rather than letting it deter me from figuring things out. Being surrounded by such incredible scientists and people is an experience for which I will always be grateful.

During my first week, I met with David, and he said something to me that I truly took to heart. He told me to “be a sponge” and to “soak up as much as you can”. Three months is a relatively short period of time, but I did my best to learn as much as I possibly could. I wish I could say all my questions have been answered, but their answers have only sparked more curiosity inside me, and I cannot wait for that cycle to continue.

Moving 450 miles from home was a difficult choice, but now I know it is the best choice I could have ever made. A big thank you to Dr. Jessica Turner for being an incredible mentor and taking me under your wing this summer as your intern. Thank you to the director of the Skin & Bio-Substrates team, Dr. Samuel Gourion-Arsiquad for believing in me and choosing me as the Skin & Bio-Substrates intern this summer. Another thanks to the Skin & Bio-Subs team; Dr. Larry Senak, Vanessa Castro, and Dr. Marcella Gabarra. Lastly, a huge thank you to TRI as a whole for all your support and kind words.

I have genuinely enjoyed my experience here and have an insurmountable sense of pride and pleasure when I reflect on my time at TRI and all it has awarded me.


For more information about TRI and our internships click here.

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