Meg Cuthbertson

Game of Clones: Exploring genetic engineering


The “Game of Clones” module shows their DNA replica. — Photo by Meg Cuthbertson

“Game of Thrones” and “Game of Clones” may sound similar. However, one is a popular HBO program and the other is a module at the Miami University Summer Scholars program. Dr. Rebecca Balish describes her wish for each of her students as “an appreciation behind the science of genetic engineering.” Balish teaches the “Game of Clones” module for the Summer Scholars 2018 program, and she ultimately achieves this goal by teaching two aspects of genetic engineering and interactive labs to help each student gain an increased understanding of each topic.

The two-week class is comprised of an agricultural unit and another unit focused on pharmaceutical matters within the genetic engineering field. Within these two topics, hands-on experience through labs plays a large role in learning. The students were performing a lab to test if certain snack foods contain GMOs. Students also went on a field trip to a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm. said “The farmer’s take on GMOs was interesting because you usually only hear from the consumer side,” said participating student Luci Becker.

When asked about careers student’s could potentially have in this field, Balish replied

The students of “Game of Clones” work on a lab.  — Photo by Meg Cuthbertson

“Wow, there’s a lot.” A few of the careers she described are a career in medicine, nursing, agriculture, and several other options. One career that she described was the work of a genetic counselor. The job takes place in a hospital, and the counselors work with pregnant women to see if diseases in their genetic history will impact their pregnancies.

Outside of the Summer Scholars program, Balish is a senior lecturer at Miami University as well. She teaches an intro biology class, microbiology, molecular biology, a senior seminar, and a lab class focused on viruses. She tried to include some of those topics in her module while considering safety and other issues. In the end, students gained a greater appreciation for the science of genetic engineering, as Balish hoped.

Luci Becker: Encountering sea life

Luci Becker, 17, from Laguna Beach, California, has had many captivating experiences with the ocean. Coming from a place where she has regular access to a beach, she has many stories unlike those of most Summer Scholars students. Most are from the Midwest and other areas that don’t border an ocean.


Luci Becker & friend pose by their local beach. –Photo contributed by Luci Becker

One particular experience that she remembers was an encounter with a whale and a calf. Becker was paddle-boarding with her friend, when they came across a whale-watching boat and asked the passengers what they had seen so close to shore. The passengers had seen the two whales, but Becker and her friend had assumed they were gone at this point, so they began to paddle back to shore. Suddenly, they saw the mother and calf and immediately paddled toward them. “We moved as fast as we could toward the pair of whales till we could almost touch them should we choose to reach our arms out.” says Becker.

This experience with ocean life and other similar scenarios have made Becker realize the special privilege she has living on a coast.  “Hearing the hum of the gigantic animals and watching them dip in and out of the ocean really brought to light how lucky I am to live where I do.” says Becker.

Lindsey Lehrfeld: Improving knowledge in kinesiology 

Lindsey Lehrfeld, 17, from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, says that her module “taught her more about her body than she ever knew.” Kinesiology has always been of interest to her, and her ambition to major in the subject has been 

In the kinesiology module, Lehrfeld learned about many topics related to the body that

Photo contributed by Lindsey Lehrfeld

she could apply to herself. Through lectures and interactive labs, she learned about her own glucose levels and overall“how the body moves and repairs from damage”.

Lehrfeld has been motivated by this module to think more about her body. Outside of the module, she was aiming to gain more knowledge on exercise science as a topic. As a rising senior, she will be taking more classes related to the medical field, including human physiology. She hopes to pursue a career in occupational therapy. The topics she learned in the Summer Scholars program helped her to achieve a beneficial starting point for what she hopes to study.

Lauren Rouse: Tap dancing for 13 years

Lauren Rouse, 17, from Wheaton, Illinois, became interested in because of “Strawberry Shortcake.”  She has now been tap dancing for 13 years, and attends nationals every other year with her team. She described the moment she began tap. “I first started with ballet, but when I walked past the tap dancing class, I saw the tap dancers do a Strawberry Shortcake dance. So I said I wanted to do tap.” Soon after she quit ballet due to her perception of the style as “boring and slow.”

Lauren Rouse dances with her tap troop at nationals. — Photo contributed by Lauren Rouse

Rouse dances at a center in Lombard, Illinois. Her dance company attends competitions regularly, but her team is very small, as well as the company. It consists of three members in her division. She continues tap because of her bond with friends she made through the company. She bonded with another girl from her high school. Rouse explains that this is the main reason she has not quit.

At nationals, she is in the duos and trios Hollywood division, which is for the oldest and most experienced dancers. Her team received high placement in the competition. “Our trio got fourth and our duet got third, which is pretty good,” she said. Rouse overall enjoys tap dancing and believes it was a good experience for her, but plans to quit after high school to be more focused on college life.

Media Matters: What I learned

Before this module, I did not realize the extent of career possibilities that I could have if I studied journalism. Outside of this class I have heard many say “journalism is dead.” From this experience, I have come to realize that this is not true. There are newer forms of journalism that have originated from the rapid improvement in technology in a more modern world. As well as this, more traditional forms of journalism still exist and have an impact on people.

Although I have come to the conclusion that journalism is not dead, journalists still have many challenges in their career paths. Traditional media has faced hardships in more recent years due to the invention and popularization of the internet. Workers involved in MSM forms of media such as print journalism used to be the most popular form of news. The internet now holds this position. Unfortunately, this has caused a decrease in viewers paying mind to the source of the information they read, which ultimately dilutes the influence of the most credible journalists.

The Media Matters module visits WCPO-TV. — Photo by Patricia Gallagher Newberry

This class has also taught me the different forms of media I could be involved with as a journalist. One long-established form of this is newspaper journalism. This form is good training due to newspapers being more credible sources. However, subscriptions and advertising have declined which leads to a loss of revenue. This eventually translates into declining coverage since staff cuts are prevalent in this situation. Another newer form of this field is broadcast journalism. Although it provides news, similar to newspaper journalism, the two have substantial differences. In broadcast journalism, style and appearance are critical, as well as action and pictures. The shows follow strict formulas, but the stories are much shorter and less comprehensive since they give an overview, rather than going too far into detail.

I have learned from the experiences in this module that my place in journalism is broadcast journalism. The work environment seemed very fitting for my personality. When we visited WCPO-TV, everyone in the newsroom was working under high intensity to create the product. My best work comes from situations where I’m under pressure, which is why this seemed most suitable for me. This class has not only taught me about the world of journalism, it has also taught me about myself and directed me toward a career in journalism.

About the author

Cuthbertson devotes much of her free time to going out with friends and family. — Photo by Ava Dahnke

Sixteen-year-old Meg Cuthbertson lives in Barrington, Illinois, with her parents and two labrador retrievers, while her older sister attends the University of Denver. She attends Barrington High School and is involved with school activities such as Model UN and orchestra. As well as this, Cuthbertson also is a member of Barrington’s badminton team, which is in season during the spring semester. “Badminton season is, by far, my favorite part of the year because I love spending time with my team.”

During summer break, Cuthbertson works at her neighborhood’s private pool as a lifeguard. She spends a large amount of her summer lifeguarding to save up money for her time in college. During her limited free time outside of work and school, she enjoys skiing, writing, watching TV, shopping, and other activities with family or friends.

In the future, Cuthbertson’s ultimate ambition is to travel around the world. Whether that would mean becoming a travel journalist or traveling for leisure, she wants to experience what different parts of the world offer. She also hopes to study abroad in London during her years in college and to eventually graduate. Soon after, she intends to begin a career that involves writing, film or both.