A Postcard From: Victoria Berke ’19

Name: Victoria Berke
Class Year: 2019
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Exeter, N.H.

Internship Placement: Bryn Mawr Summer Science Research
Job Title: Laboratory Assistant
Location: Bryn Mawr College, Burgmayer Lab

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working in Dr. Sharon Burgmayer’s Bioinorganic Chemistry lab. We are a synthetic lab, doing small molecule modeling of the molybdenum cofactor, specifically the pyranopterin dithiolene ligand. My job is to synthesize starting materials for right now, although by the end of the summer I hope to be synthesizing the actual cofactor anologue, which is the molecule we study.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I have worked in this lab for three semesters, and am passionate about chemistry. I applied to stay for the summer because I want to improve my laboratory technique and advance to higher-level synthesis before the school year starts.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship has been building relationships with the graduate students in the Chemistry Department. During the school year, everyone is very busy with their own projects and classes, which makes it difficult to bridge the gap between the undergraduate and graduate experience. During the summer, we are all in the lab full time together, so there are many chances for mentorship and relationship building.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

It has been very rewarding to see my skills improve at a pace that would be impossible during the school year. For reference, during the school year I am in the lab only about 10 hours a week, and I am only able to get a fully purified product about once every 1.5 weeks, whereas I can complete these reactions in one or two days during the summer. This has enabled my technique to improve greatly, especially as it is easier to take and remember feedback about a reaction when you are doing the same reaction the next day as opposed to a week from when the feedback is given.