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Backyard Brains Welcomes Newest Chilean Intern: Conduction Velocity in Different Plants

conduction velocity in different plants
Tim and I talking about our experiments at the Peruvian Restaurant “Ajicito” over Ceviche, Maracuya juice and pisco sour

— Written by Carla Contreras Mena —

Hello, I’m Carla Contreras Mena, a student of Biochemistry at the University of Santiago of Chile (which we locally call Usach). I currently work in a Neuroscience Laboratory with professor Dr. Patricio Rojas, where we are investigating the neurophysiological difference of electrical activity in the mouse hippocampus between a control and a model of autism. Here is a picture of my research:

mouse hippocampus

Section of the hippocampus, specifically in the dentate gyrus of a C57BL/6 strain mouse; E = stimulating electrode; R = recording electrode

In search of an internship for my degree, my professor recommended Backyard Brains. In my first meeting with Backyard Brains, I listened a bit about this interesting way to learn electrophysiology in plants and how a simplified amplifier works to learn and teach at the same time.

I decided to learn more about it, so I accepted the offer letter!

First Steps


Paid Virtual Summer Internship for Neurodivergent Teens or Young Adults (Apply Through 7/1)

neurovivid internship for neurodivergent

Are you a teen or young adult (13-30 years old) who identifies as neurodivergent, ADHD, autistic, or having dyslexia — or do you know someone else who is?

If yes, the opportunity of spending July and August on a paid virtual internship with NeuroVivid could be something you’re looking for. As a co-designer for their museum maker program, you’ll dive into the world of brain differences, circuitry, brain-machine interfaces, coding and more, while helping ensure that the fun is accessible to all.

The internship lasts 8 weeks (from 7/5 through 8/30), but you may get a chance for an additional 15 weeks of internship this fall. The only requirement is a high-speed internet connection as all activities will be conducted online. Note that the deadline for applications is July 1!

NeuroVivid is a program ran by EdGE, a nonprofit ran by research and education enthusiasts whose aim is to broaden the STEM talent pool by empowering middle schoolers to engage in maker activities and make their own EEG headset. It’s funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Chilean High School Interns Say Goodbye (For Now!)

Editor’s note: This is Part II. You can read Part I here.


Hello, I am Danae Madariaga, a senior at Alberto Blest Gana high school. I have participated in a data collection project with Etienne, Tim, and Derek for three months. Throughout this time, I have learned many things such as the use of Google Colab to analyze my data that I uploaded to the cloud. This makes it easier for scientists from around the world to analyze my data as well.

Really though, the most important thing that I have learned is that being a scientist is not easy! It is a very hard job that requires perseverance and patience. I have also learned how to optimize my time to perform my experiments in a consistent manner. Working with Backyard Brains was my very first job and a very pleasant experience, especially with all the new tools and plants I have now!

chilean high school seniors say goodbye
My Home Experimental Setup with Basil Plants and Venus Fly Traps