A Postcard From: Emma Rutenberg ’19

Name: Emma Rutenberg
Class Year: 2019
Major: History
Hometown: Philadelphia

Internship Placement: American Philosophical Society Museum
Job Title: Curatorial Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

The American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned institution in the United States, and was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 on the basis of promoting useful knowledge through extensive and innovative research in the sciences and humanities. The Society will celebrate its 275th anniversary next year, and the upcoming exhibition will focus on APS Members and the many important contributions they have made to their respective fields. I have been conducting research on a vast array of objects and manuscript collections related to such diverse fields as early American history, geology, exploration, industry, astrophysics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and archaeology. This research will help to determine what items, artifacts, events, or people the Society will showcase in the exhibition.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I’m a History major with two minors in Classical & Near Eastern Archaeology as well as Museum Studies, so museum experience is extremely important in my life and in my future careers. I hadn’t had much exposure to Museum Studies before transferring to Bryn Mawr last fall (in 2016), so I wanted a great internship that would give me incredible experience in research, archival work, documentation, curatorial duties, and ways to show history to the broader public.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

My entire experience at Bryn Mawr has been incredible so far, and the search for my internship was one of the most salient ways I was reminded of Bryn Mawr’s special, unique, and uplifting community. I had no real experience in applying for academic-related jobs, having only ever worked retail before, but the LILAC people I met with were so incredibly helpful and reassuring when it came time for me to write my updated resume and cover letter as well as search the database for internships. On top of that, I met with Monique Scott, director of Museum Studies at Bryn Mawr, who talked to me about the importance of museums in academia and in life. From her personal connection to Diana Marsh—one of the Mellon Fellows at the American Philosophical Society—she was able to give me a lot of insight about the internship, and simultaneously encouraged me to apply for it and supported me through the process, which I’m so thankful for.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

Many of the disciplines I’m researching are areas of study I’ve actually never been exposed to but have always admired from afar, making the experience constantly rewarding and always very interesting. Most of the classes I take have more to do with ancient civilizations and history, so I normally don’t have the time or opportunity to research things like terrestrial magnetism, astronomy, or space exploration in such depth, and it is extremely fulfilling. By reading through rare archival manuscript collections, I’ve been introduced to so many incredible materials, people, and events that have come from the American Philosophical Society, as well as the importance of displaying these people and ideas to the general public.

I’ve also learned so much about the types of work that occur in museums and libraries — whether that involves documenting sources, handling rare and delicate items, going down rabbit holes to find thematic connections between people or events, or simply brainstorming ways to showcase important ideas in a museum exhibition. I feel that the work we’re doing is important, and it also exposes us to the very real and prominent issues of racism, misogyny, and colonialist mindsets that are inherently intertwined into the histories of old, learned institutions such as the APS. In these ways, I have loved the feeling of being able to have an effect on the way people will be able to view, learn about, and connect with history from many eras and disciplines.

A Postcard From: Jenisha Stapleton ’19

Name: Jenisha Stapleton
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology
Hometown: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Internship Placement: Epidemiology Division, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health
Job Title: Summer Intern with the Vaccine Preventable Disease Program Coordinator
Location: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Screenshot of the beginning of my first educational video.

Self-portrait with one of the Zika posters in the office.

What’s happening at your internship? 

As an intern with the Epidemiology Division of the VI Department of Health, my primary program focus is working with the Vaccine Preventable Disease Surveillance Program (VPDSP), whose goals include increasing provider participation in reporting and implementing standardized practices. The program is in the process of being launched and my principal responsibilities entail developing content for the VPDSP newsletter and website. This includes creating educational scripts and short videos. So far, I have completed and recorded my first video, which guides health providers on how to properly fill out the Notification of Infectious Diseases form. I am working towards completing scripts on other topics related to the program or overall division.

Why did you apply for this internship? 

My interest in epidemiology and public health along with my fondness for my home island inspired me to contact the Territorial Epidemiologist and create this internship opportunity. After following the state of the Zika virus in the U.S. Virgin Islands and learning that the majority of the cases came from my home island of St. Thomas, I was compelled to take action and this internship is a result of my initial concern and enthusiasm. This internship is helping to facilitate my growth as a young professional, better define my long-term career goals, and do work that will influence the community of my native island.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you? 

Learning to use software and programs, such as website/newsletter creators and video makers, has been challenging yet fun. Through trial and error and Google, of course, I have been able to gain an understanding of how to use these various programs. As I continue using them, I will become more familiar with various features and functions. This is helping to develop my technical skills, which in the future, I will be able to apply to for assignments. Being able to communicate and present information using different platforms is useful in this age and helps to appeal to a greater audience.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

In addition to doing work in launching the VPD surveillance program which will ultimately impact my community, I am grateful for the opportunity to receive mentorship and network with my supervisors and everyone on the team. They have shared their journeys to epidemiology and public health, which has informed my personal career path and has influenced my decision to pursue research opportunities and also a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology.


A Postcard From: Lillian Oyen-Ustad ’19

Name: Lillian Oyen-Ustad
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biology and History
Hometown: Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Internship Placement: Bryn Mawr College Department of Biology
Job Title: Research Assistant

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working in Bryn Mawr’s biology department under the advisement of Dr. Karen Greif. We’re currently studying the effects of a certain calcium-binding synaptic protein on the growth of axons in embryonic chickens. The ultimate goal of this study is to learn more about the way the brain creates networks during development. These highly specialized proteins are traditionally responsible for cellular communication, but we hypothesize that, by responding to local signals, the protein provides a stimulus for the growth of axons during development. To test this hypothesis, we’ve designed two experiments—the first examines the effects of removing all of the existing protein on axonal growth and the second attempts to view the effects of the protein with a decreased calcium binding ability.

Why did you apply for this internship?

At Bryn Mawr, I am majoring in biology with a strong interest in neuroscience and developmental biology. I had the privilege of taking three of my four biology classes with Dr. Greif and was chosen to work in her lab for the summer. This internship will allow me to gain experience with more advanced laboratory techniques and learn more about research as a profession.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

Through this internship opportunity, I was honored with the Frances Velay fellowship via Bryn Mawr. Through stipends and networking opportunities that encourage women’s involvement in the scientific field, I have had the chance to meet other fellows and discuss our individual research. I can say with full confidence that being a part of the collective impact supporting women in STEM fields has been one of my favorite parts of this summer.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Dynamic, Valuable, and Didactic
Developmental neurobiology research

A Postcard From: Maryanne Kihiu ’19

Name: Maryanne Kihiu
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: Kiambu, Kenya

Internship Placement: MD Anderson Cancer Center
Job Title: College Student Research Assistant
Location: Houston, Texas

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer, I am interning in MD Anderson Cancer Center with the department of Experimental Therapeutics. I am working on in vitro experiments that investigate the effects of Ibrutinib on specific proteins in cell-lines. Ibrutinib is a newly approved drug used in the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Though Ibrutinib is very potent, its mechanism for action is not known. An in-vitro model, with a specific focus on protein changes in this case, allows us to investigate on one of the possible modes of mechanism of action of the drug.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I took a Biology of Cancer class in my Freshman year, which I found to be very eye-opening on what cancer really meant. This class mainly covered the biological aspect of cancer but I also wanted to know more about the treatment aspect. This internship provides me with that experience.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I have learned a few things that I had not anticipated. One of them is how research teams do internal presentations and give “harsh” critiques for papers written by team members when doing peer-reviews. The “harsh” criticism is not done with any malicious intent. Rather, it is done to ensure that the paper presented to the public has solid scientific backing. In addition to that, it helps the researcher to grow.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Building, Insightful, Fun
Experience, Essence, Teamwork.

A Postcard From: Jialu Guo ’19

Name: Jialu Guo
Class Year: 2019
Major: East Asian Languages and Cultures
Hometown: Nanjing, China

Internship Placement: Nanjing Museum Archaeology Department
Job Title: Archaeology Fieldwork Intern
Location: Zhaozhuang Site, Sihong County, Jiangsu Province, China

What’s happening at your internship?

Live internet broadcasting is very popular in China now. What about the combination of internet broadcasting and archaeology? What do the archaeologists do for everyday work? How does the life of our ancestors look like? We broadcast our fieldwork on the internet, answered the questions from the public, and invited some archaeologists specialized in osteoarchaeology and Neolithic archaeology to spread some basic knowledge in archaeology to the audience. We hope our broadcasting can attract more attention to the field of archaeology and clear up misunderstandings of archaeology. Archaeology is not digging for dinosaurs or finding treasures; archaeology is an interdisciplinary subject that can help us to discover the truth of the past.

Why did you apply for this internship?

There are four reasons why I applied for this internship:

First, other than the major of East Asian Languages and Cultures, I also have a minor in archaeology. Of course this internship can take both my major and minor into account.

Secondly, I hope to learn how to transform what have been learned in the classroom into practical use. Archaeology is a very interdisciplinary subject and hands-on experience is an essential part of the study plan. This internship will make my study plan more complete.

After that, I hope this internship experience can inspire my future academic study. I am always very interested in doing some comparison work between the different regions in the world, and I have done some research on comparison archaeology of the classical Roman period and China Han Dynasty in my previous study. Neolithic period is a new topic for me, and I’m taking the course about Near Eastern and South Asian Neolithic revolution at Bryn Mawr. I would like to start some comparison study between the Chinese Neolithic cultures and those emerged on the Arabian Peninsula after this internship.

In the last, this internship will enhance my future professional goals. I am very interested in both archaeology and museum studies, and I interned at the Nanjing Museum for exhibition curatorial and public education during last summer. This summer’s hands-on experience on archaeology excavation will help me gain better understanding on the professional work of both fields in archaeology and museum studies, and will further encourage me to think about which area is more suitable for me in the future.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I was the lucky girl that who did not need application and interview to get this internship. There are always some potential opportunities for those persons who can keep in touch with the people from the previous internship experience, and I’m that person. I met some archaeologists from the archaeology department of the Nanjing Museum during the process of organizing some public archaeology activities in the public educational department. This spring, I contacted them, telling them what I did during my sophomore year and what kind of internship I was looking for in the archaeology department. Two days later, I got this wonderful internship!

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

I never expected that I would learn something about agriculture and plants from an internship of archaeology fieldwork. The Zhaozhuang Site is located in the countryside and our work place is surrounded by the farmland. Our archaeology team even has our own farmland next to our archaeology site and we grow vegetables there for everyday food.

A Postcard From: Ekaterina Olson Shipyatsky ’19

Name: Ekaterina Olson Shipyatsky
Class Year: 2019
Major: Independent Major in PPE: Philosophy, Politics, Economics
Hometown: Denver, Colo.

Internship Placement: Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania
Job Title: Research Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, known sometimes as the “think tanks’ think tank,” analyzes the role of think tanks in the policy making process in governments and civil societies. Us interns are each assigned to a data collection team that works on updating contacts and addresses for regional groups of think tanks and a research team that analyzes think tank data and works on collecting information for TTCSP’s Global Go-To Think Tank Index. I am on the Central and Eastern Europe Data Collection Team and have been working on collecting data on and contacting think tanks in Russia and Ukraine. I am also on the International Law and Global Governance Research Team, where I work on a wide variety of projects ranging from making PowerPoints on changes in global governance since World War II to analyzing new think tank activity in 2017.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I am interested in and care deeply about the work that think tanks do and the role they play in society. Think tanks, the way I see them, function as agents that reflect on the actions of their given governments and societies. I believe that work is incredibly important in preserving governmental ethics and transparency. Because of this, I am very interested in studying the role of think tanks and would love to eventually work for one one day.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

When I was initially assigned to the Central and Eastern Europe Data Collection Team, I did not expect to be communicating directly with think tanks in the region. However, in the data collection process, we were asked to email think tank directors directly. Though I speak Russian at home, I had never been taught how to use the sort of formal, academic language required of the task. Emailing Russian think tank directors gave a command of an area of the Russian language I had not previously had.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

This internship involves both a lot of individual and a lot of group work. Interns have to work closely with other people in their research and data collection teams, but are largely responsible for doing their own work on their own time. This unique setup has allowed me to build both my group communication skills and my skills in independent self-direction. Both of these are important skills both for my academic work and in the field of academic research and writing, which I hope to work in eventually.


A Postcard From: Romy Dangol ’19

Name: Romy Dangol
Class Year: 2019
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Lalitpur, Nepal

Internship Placement: Tech Impact
Job Title: Data Services Intern
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

Tech Impact is a socially oriented nonprofit tech organization serving and providing other nonprofit clients with necessary technological resources.

It is always exciting at work because I am learning something new every day! Currently, I am involved in a number of internal as well as client-based projects. I am working on an interactive dashboard to help Tech Impact manage its day-to-day workload, and another dashboard to track the number of cases the organization has worked on and are working on. Making these dashboards is exciting because the visualizations are arranged using data streamed real-time.

I was also able to sit in numerous meetings, conference calls, and interviews with other nonprofits. In one of the client-based project I am currently involved with, I am helping with custom database loading. This project is very interesting in the sense that there are a number of us involved in it, each bringing in our own expertise. For me, it’s a great learning opportunity as I get to see and understand how the strategic planning for those nonprofits clients are carried out and how technology consulting is done once their specific needs are accessed.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship after I learned about the company’s mission. There are not many nonprofit tech companies that work towards providing low-cost technical solutions. Because of my interest in technology and data analysis, I was really curious to learn more about their work and how they manage to provide IT and data support to over 200 organizations.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

The staff at Tech Impact are a fantastic group. They care so much about their clients and are determined to provide the best solutions. They are immensely helpful and supportive of each other and I am glad to have had this opportunity to work with them and learn from them.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

Being able to do what I enjoy and also playing a role in making a positive impact on the communities that we serve.

A Postcard From: Amana Abdurrezak ’19

Name: Amana Abdurrezak
Class Year: 2019
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia

Internship Placement: U.S. Department of State
Job Title: Public Affairs Front Office Intern
Location: Washington, D.C.

The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government.

What’s happening at your internship?

As a front office intern with the Bureau of Public Affairs, I have the chance to flex my writing muscles. Some of my responsibilities include helping draft and assemble official communications (such as memos), writing summaries on relevant news topics or statements made by important members of the administration, editing webpages, or sitting in on meetings. Each day is different, which means there is never a dull day!

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to intern at the Department of State to learn more about how the U.S. promotes democracy and progress around the world through its foreign policy. I love to read, listen, write and research domestic and foreign politics, so I figured I would dive into how the U.S. communicates its foreign policy priorities to audiences around the world.

I also applied to intern at State because it is an internship structured as a program. Besides the day-to-day work, I also have the opportunity to learn from seasoned individuals who have worked all around the world. From “brown bag” lunches to trips to different D.C. tourist spots, I have time to learn on the job and see whether the world of foreign affairs is one I want to pursue in a few years. I applied to this internship on a whim, not expecting anything, but I’m so glad I didn’t count myself out! It’s been incredibly rewarding and unlike anything I’ve done before.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

Like many other government internships in D.C., I found out about my internship through the Department of State website and USAJobs. For any other students in the Bi-Co who are interested in government internships, I highly suggest tracking these websites throughout the fall because they close early.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

By far the most rewarding part of my internship is the people. Although I didn’t have many expectations coming into the internship, I did expect the building to be filled with people who a) were too serious, or b) were too far in their careers to care about interns. In my experience, it’s been the complete opposite. My supervisors have been very warm, welcoming, and always up to answering my questions. The different Foreign Service Officers and civil servants I have had the chance to talk to—on top of being incredibly well-informed—love to talk to interns about their careers. I’m happy doing my work because I get a wealth of information and advice in return!


A Postcard From: Ankitha Kannad ’19

Name: Ankitha Kannad
Class Year: 2019
Major: Physics
Hometown: Bangalore, India

Internship Placement: Summer Science Research Program
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your internship?

I am doing atomic physics research with Professor Mike Noel in the Bryn Mawr College Physics Department. In the lab, we use lasers to excite rubidium atoms to very high energy levels called Rydberg states. We then apply electric fields to ionize the atoms and determine the energy levels of their electrons after ionization. This process is further complicated by the Stark effect that shifts energy levels in an electric field and makes it difficult to resolve closely-spaced states. A possible solution, employed by our experiment, is to vary the electric field in a particular manner so as to control the ionization process. These perturbations of the electric field are determined using a genetic algorithm that closely resembles gene transfer and mutation in biology. Our final goal for this experiment is to separate closely spaced states which will be useful for fields like quantum computing.

Currently, we are working on improving the optimization capabilities of the genetic algorithm so we can begin collecting data for an upcoming paper!

Why did you apply for this internship?

I worked in Professor Noel’s lab over winter break and really enjoyed experimenting with the various optical instruments used in their research. With some lab experience under my belt and a more solid grounding in quantum mechanics, I wanted to further explore the theory behind their work in the lab and also take part in answering some of the tough questions the field poses.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

I have really enjoyed working with our entire team at the lab. When problems arise in our experiment, we usually discuss them together and the process is especially helpful at revealing gaps in my understanding of the physics behind our research. I also like that we are given the responsibility of running the experiment and the time to make mistakes, which are always great ways of learning especially in the sciences!

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

By working in Professor Noel’s lab, I have been exposed to many different aspects of research, from computational, experimental work necessary for studying quantum phenomena to understanding the electronics and other machinery we use, which is equally important. As someone exploring physics research as a possible career path, this has been invaluable. It has also given me greater appreciation for the process of science, which can sometimes mean spending a day testing out hypothesis and realizing that it makes little change to the experiment or gives poor data. It requires a lot of patience and hard work but is certainly worthwhile in the end!


A Postcard From: Danielle Xie ’19

Name: Danielle Xie

Extracting glucose from blood samples.

Class Year: 2019
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Minor: Music
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Internship Placement: Children’s Hospital Colorado
Job Title:
Summer Research Intern with Pediatric Endocrinology
Aurora, Colo.

Putting organic lab skills to use with Dr. Melanie Cree Green ’99.

What’s happening at your internship?

I’ve been having a wonderful time here at CHC! This summer, I’m conducting translational research in the pediatric endocrinology department. I work closely with Dr. Melanie Cree Green ’99, whose research focuses on hepatic metabolism in adolescents with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

There are so many various aspects to this internship:

Research: My research project involves investigating whether the standard 2-hr OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) used to test for diabetes might have additional clinical applications in the PCOS setting. For example, whether the shape and/or timing of the glucose peak observed during this test might reflect certain physiology in these girls relating to hepatic function. We examine several metabolic markers (C-reactive protein for inflammation and the hormones adiponectin and glucagon-like peptide-1, etc.) as well as evaluate several mathematical models for assessing insulin secretion and sensitivity. By running statistical analyses on all these data, we can identify certain relationships and ultimately gain a better understanding of the physiology that causes altered metabolism in these girls.

I get to present the progress I’m making every week at lab meeting. Lab meeting is also a chance for me to learn about all the other research going on in the department.

Shadowing: The clinical aspect of this internship involves shadowing at the PCOS multidisciplinary clinic. Patients who come into the clinic for PCOS are seen by endocrinology, dermatology, gynecology, and psychology. Sometimes they are also seen by nutrition or exercise physiology, depending on their specific needs.
A video from the clinic: https://www.facebook.com/childrenshospitalcolorado/videos/10154697836376166/

Conferences and Lectures: Between Children’s Hospital and Anschutz Medical Campus (located right across from us), there are always great research talks going on. Additionally, I’ve enjoyed attending the weekly endocrine grand rounds, in which a specific patient case (problem, diagnosis, and treatment) is presented to an audience of doctors, medical students, residents, etc. The cases are always interesting, and it’s allowed me to glimpse critical thinking and clinical reasoning in action.

Research Study Visits: Currently we have two ongoing studies. Whenever we have a research patient scheduled, I try to tag along to observe how these studies are conducted. These days tend to be long, since we arrive early in the morning for the first blood draw. After the nurse draws the blood, we take it to the processing room to have it spun on the centrifuge, plasma extracted, then stored for analysis. In addition to the blood draws, there’s a lot else going on in the room: oxygen masks and metabolic carts, food frequency/mood questionnaires, collection of melatonin samples, etc.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was first connected with Dr. Green through Bryn Mawr’s winter externship program. I applied because I had an inkling that I wanted to pursue an MD/PhD and eventually a career like hers, involving both research and clinical practice. I had a wonderful time, and I was thrilled to learn that I had gotten the funding to continue with her during the summer.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many different aspects to this internship, and each experience offers something new. Throughout my time here, I’ve come to realize how important skills like writing, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking are in the medical and scientific fields.

Collaboration: Whether it’s a grant proposal, data results, a manuscript draft, or a patient diagnosis, ideas are always run by several people, sometimes across departments and fields. With the current data set I’m working on, it’s been so valuable to talk through the data/results with other team members; everyone brings unique perspectives to the table.

Communication: Through writing up an abstract and now drafting a manuscript, I’m really honing those writing skills. Additionally, I will be learning how to present research by preparing a 20-minute oral presentation on my project. This will be presented at lab meeting during my last week here.

Thinking outside the box: there’s a lot of trial and error involved in research. Data and results don’t always come out as expected; the relationships aren’t always straightforward. We’ve often had to reframe our hypothesis, or consider the data from a different perspective.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

I take advantage of the amazing public transport system to explore the city on the weekends. There’s always lots to do here in Denver — from music festivals to hiking to good restaurants. I often meet some pretty cool strangers during these solo excursions!