Do the Best to Enjoy the Moment

The early morning following the day that I submitted my first blog post, an earthquake happened in the northern area of Osaka City, a region right south to Kyoto. The magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit Osaka and Kyoto was significantly affected as well. Japan is known for frequent earthquakes, but it was my first time experiencing an earthquake at this level. The earthquake itself lasted approximately 30 seconds, and it took me about 10 seconds just to realize that it was an earthquake.

I was at home while the ground suddenly started “jumping” up and down, and then, moving horizontally. In fact, some of the lab members and I were planning on heading to Hiroshima for an annual genome editing conference at around noontime that day, but all available public transportation  in the region was completely stopped. I managed to get to the lab on foot as usual to meet up with the other members. I did not observe much panics from the faces of people passing by me on the streets. While the lab members were in the lab waiting for the updates on public transportation, we were even talking about staying over in the lab and leave for Hiroshima the next day as it was unknown when the transportation will return normal.

On the Platform of Hiroshima Railway Station
Arriving in Hiroshima in the crowd after 8pm on the day of earthquake

The Materials and My Name Tag for the Conference

The 3-day conference was shortened into 2 days due to the earthquake


The earthquake was not the end of the story, a heavy and constant rainfall hit western Japan beginning on July 6th. Kamo River and Katsura River in Kyoto were severely flooded and so did many other rivers in western Japan, especially those in the south-western region. A significant numbers of people lost their lives due to the flood and the sequential sediment disaster. According to the news, it was the most devastating rainfall and flood since Japan entered the current era, “Heisei period,” which means it was the most severe flood on record in the past 30 years.

Flooded Kamo River Next to CiRA on July 6th


While I am writing this blog during this long weekend, the famous Gion Festival is going on just outside of the window despite of the record-breaking high temperature these two days.

Besides the busy laboratory work, all these unexpected or expected events have become the spice of a monotonous daily routine. Though I have felt the significant personal growth in a lot of dimensions because of the laboratory part of this experience, the other parts were also the essence. They certainly added diverse colors and flavors to this unique cross-cultural and cross-field internship experience.

For every day I am at work, I tried my best to enjoy and make the most out of it. Indeed, I started my independent works last week after only a month of “intensive training.” Still, I cannot believe that half of my internship has passed already. I am definitely going to miss my life here in Kyoto and at CiRA a lot.

A reflection of my time at the Farm

The last day of my internship has gone and past but I can’t help missing the daily routine of working at a place that I have grown to love. With this being my last post, I think it’s appropriate to take a step back and look at the history of the farm and its mission.

During the last few weeks at the farm, we interns got to learn about the history of the farm and the ongoing volunteer efforts from Drumlin’s Volunteer Coordinator. I was fascinated to learn how Drumlin Farm came together from the foresight and charity of a single woman with a dream to keep nature alive and thriving. The story of how Drumlin Farm came to be is a significant and interesting piece of the town of Lincoln’s history. It all started with the building of Gordan Hall in 1915 as a summer home to Louise Ayer Gordan and her first husband. Louise later remarried and became Louise Ayer Gordan Hatheway and willed the property, farmland and surrounding lands to the Mass Audubon society in 1955 with the wish that it would remain a working farm and nature sanctuary in the years to come. From then on, the farm has kept its promise to Louise and is continually advocating for the protection of wildlife and providing local agriculture.

Picture of Gordan Hall, Image courtesy of “Images of North America: Mass Audubon”

Drumlin’s Volunteer Coordinator also explained how Drumlin Farm has grown with Louise’s mission in mind. She has helped to coordinate various volunteer opportunities within Mass Audubon and the Bobolink Project. The Bobolink Project is a Mass Audubon effort to help protect grassland birds and recuperate their population numbers. Many of these birds are disappearing in the Northeastern U.S. due to hayfield mowing during the Bobolink nesting season. The Bobolink Project provides farmers the financial assistance to delay their crop mowing until the Bobolinks and other grassland birds are fledged (out of the nest). This project is just one example of Mass Audubon’s mission to help preserve and educate about nature.

Picture of a male Bobolink, image courtesy of ‘All About Birds’

I feel incredibly lucky to have played a part in this institution’s mission. Drumlin Farm’s Wildlife Sanctuary has taught me how to face my fears and to come to the realization that a future in the veterinary field is possible. With the finale of this internship, I have come out with more knowledge about wildlife care, made connections to help me in the future, and have discovered how to take action in preserving wildlife and nature in my local community. My advice for those of you who haven’t quite figured out what path you want to take when you leave college: I would say to go and explore any internships or volunteer opportunities that even remotely interest you. You never know if an interest is a passing fad or something waiting to be explored as a future. So, go out there, explore your passions and thank you for following our stories throughout this summer!

Photo of Drumlin Farm Staff and Summer 2018 Interns

It takes life-long passion to be in academia

 

My teammates and I (third person from the left)

Many people think that doing research in the medical field is about constantly gaining more knowledge, keeping up with advances and new findings in the field, and coming up with the meaningful unanswered questions. Research is also known to involve continuously doing experiments, analyzing and gathering data. From my personal perspective, I have discovered that research is a great learning environment. In order to contribute to any research project, the learning process never stops. The deeper your understanding is, the better your hypothesis will be. You are constantly learning while doing experiments and looking at your data. The hands-on experience is a crucial part to help me understand the projects.

In the Lichtman lab, people learn from each other on a daily basis: when the principal investigator and the postdoctoral researcher teach students new techniques or when students discuss underlying concepts with one another. It takes kindness to spare time to help other people learn. It takes cooperation and effort for everyone to be involved. Most importantly, it takes passion to keep all of this going.

The World of Work is not like university life. At school, students are taught by lecturers, assigned homework, get checked on for completion of homework, and get tested during exams to be evaluated. In the World of Work, how much you can learn and how much you can achieve entirely depends on you. There isn’t any limit about what you have to learn. There aren’t any criteria for you to be evaluated upon. People will not tell you what you should be doing, and they will not keep track of your work. However, they will evaluate your performance. They will want to know whether you can set up and carry out experiments independently, whether you can generate accurate data, and whether you can effectively analyze data. Furthermore, your performance is not the only thing that will be taken into consideration. It is also very important to maintain a good relationship with other people in your workplace and to be helpful to team members.

The most important skill that I have learned this summer is how to do research. I have learned how to come up with a question and how to set up the experiments and different techniques that can be used to do research. This will help me in the future whether I take lab courses at Brandeis or I do research as part of my career in the medical field. Besides my passion in patient care, I really appreciate the enormous impact of research in medicine. It may take a lifetime effort of scientists to do research, but the impact could be life-changing for improving patient treatment and health care services for all people. The World of Work has also taught me a lot about what I should do in order to be a worthwhile person and valuable team member. It’s all about having the passion and the resilience to pursue your passion.

Learning more about the Farm and Sanctuary

Hello again! It’s been a while since I last posted but my internship is halfway over and I have learned so much in the past few weeks. Besides the daily routine of cleaning animal enclosures and preparing diets, I have had the chance of learning about a lot of other different aspects of wildlife care, education, and conservation.

I spoke last time about my part in an internship project. I decided to focus on designing and building new enclosures for some of our species here on the farm. Our American kestrel needed a new enclosure design because we had moved some of our animals around into more suitable enclosures. I got the chance to research and design all the new perches and the layout of the interior of the enclosure and then with some help, built them. I learned that the falcons needed flat perches to rest on as well as rounded perches that mimicked what they would find in nature. Our kestrel at the sanctuary had a prior wing injury so she has limited flight and needed a lot of low lying perches in order for her to climb around. With all this new research about enclosure designs, I have come to appreciate how difficult it is to keep captive wildlife and be able to care for them so that they are able to live comfortably.

Left: A picture of the kestrel enclosure I designed. Right: The American Kestrel, photo courtesy of Mass Audubon.

One amazing opportunity that this internship allows for is the chance to handle some of the animals at the wildlife sanctuary. All the interns that come through Drumlin’s Wildlife Care get a chance to do some

Handling one of our screech owls who was molting. Below is an audio recording of an Eastern screech owl’s call. Audio courtesy of National Audubon Society.

raptor handling under the supervision of our amazing Wildlife Program Coordinator, Flavio. Raptor handling entails being able to take a bird of prey or a raptor out of their enclosure and keep them on a gloved hand for educational presentations and then bring them back into their respective enclosures. I have been able to work with one of our broad-winged hawks and a screech owl here at the sanctuary. These birds have all been trained to be handled in such a manner and we always handle the animals with their safety and level of stress in mind.

In our downtime, interns also get the chance to learn more about Drumlin Farm as an institution and all the different fields of study and professions that go into the everyday management at Drumlin Farm. We got the chance to meet with Senior Naturalist, Tia and Visitor Education Manager, Sandy.

Talking with Tia, we learned about the efforts of conservation, especially in the lens of keeping invasive species in check. We helped clear out black swallow-wort, an invasive species native to Europe, in a small field on the farm. Tia explained how the swallow-wort plants were outcompeting and reducing the number of local species in the area. Swallow-worts are especially detrimental to monarch butterflies as female butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed which looks remarkably similar to the black swallow-wort, but monarch caterpillars cannot feed on black swallow-wort, leading to declining monarch populations.

A picture of Black Swallow-wort, an invasive species.

We also met with Drumlin Farm’s Visitor Education Manager, Sandy. Sandy walked us through the daily programs that happen on the farm and what a schedule for teachers that work with the farm looks like. Visitor education programs often showcase conservation and biodiversity efforts that the visitors do not immediately see. There are programs about different bird wings, the different weasel species of America and, of course, animal exhibition shows in which a teacher will take out one of our wildlife species and talk about that animal’s habitat, eating habits and their importance to the New England ecosystem. It was a very enlightening experience and Sandy even hinted at having the interns do some animal showcasing in the future as well!

Being able to see all the different parts of how the wildlife sanctuary work and how the farm functions has been extremely educational and I’ve had so much fun learning and gaining experience working in this field.

The Woods of Weston, MA

I’m am at the midpoint of my internship with Brandeis Professor Eric Olsen, studying the relationship of deer, ticks, and Lyme disease in the city of Weston, MA. I have learned and experience a lot since my first days with the tick surveys. When I first came into this internship I viewed it as being a traditional internship where I would just be doing minor things like helping prepare the tools that we needed for a routine survey, assisting in the input of data, filing things etc. Now as I am in the midpoint of this internship I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The way that Professor Eric Olson coordinated the internship, it was as if I was conducting my own research. We both did the same amount of work, followed the same procedures, and both worked towards a common goal. After a regular day of collecting and looking at the information I collected, it left me with a feeling of accomplishment. Knowing that I was finally getting the resources that I never had leading up to my involvement in the WOW fellowship program is like a feeling of liberation.

I have also been learning about different tick species, the history of our seven different locations, how certain terrains form naturally and other interesting facts. It’s is weird seeing how different it is learning things about nature from a professor outside a classroom setting. It’s a lot less stressful and more like a gift rather than a chore. I found myself listening to what he had to say and retaining the information more than I would have in a classroom. I started to see myself noticing different types of plants like bedstraw, and milkweed. While my knowledge on how to identify the all the different types of plants there are, it has gotten a lot better just hearing him talk about them.

This internship also allowed me to really see how much I love being in nature. The city of Weston has some of the most beautiful forests I ever have seen. Just walking into one you can see the lush green vegetation of the forest, the smell of pollen and wildflowers, hear the scuffle of animals in the leaf litter, and think about just how peaceful it is being in the woods. It’s sort of a distraction from our daily lives and to just become apart of an ecosystem that many of us have lost touch with.

It reminds me of a class that I took during the fall semester of my freshman year where we had to observe a specific place in the woods that we chose and just try to connect the place as much as possible. We were told to observe the trees, notice if anything change, to use it as something therapeutic in our lives, and this internship is just like that. I have been able to use this internship as a way to take time away from working two jobs, having to worry about paying for things and helping my family.

All in all, I have really been enjoying the internship. It has been a good experience so far and I have been able to learn about many different things that I probably wouldn’t know about if I didn’t do this internship.

The People First

Working at ImprovBoston has taught me that the most important aspect of any job is the people you are working with. I have the pleasure to work on a team of funny, easy going, and passionate people who are so supportive and make even the hardest days enjoyable. It has been incredibly reaffirming to work at ImprovBoston because it has shown me that comedy is not just about the art you are making but the people you are making it with. I now know that I want to be part of teams that are supportive and push me to think more creatively.

The infectious creative energy that permeates through the staff of ImprovBoston is what makes this work different from my university and academic life. There is a professionalism to the creativity at ImprovBoston that is not present at my life at Brandeis. For example, a creative project to start a new musical improv group goes through all the steps to find a director, music director, and producer so the results are professional and polished. At Brandeis, I have started many a creative project that has been missing the key components of professionalism and follow through. I hope to take these skills to projects at Brandeis. The WOW experience has also differed from Brandeis and academic life because I live in an apartment and cook my own food. I love it and it will be very hard to go back to living in the halls because the independence I have found in my life has made me happier and more confident.

Not only have I built on my skills of professionalism, follow through, and independence but also in networking. In comedy, networking is closely tied to being friends with folks within the community. During my semester in Chicago, I got the note that I should be confident and take up more physical and emotional space. I have been going to shows and hanging out with people before them to really connect and forge friendships. By fostering friendships with the people I work and perform with I am hopeful to create more opportunities for creative collaboration. I have more fun performing and working with people when I also know them as friends.

The most important thing I have learned at ImprovBoston and through working in comedy is that you have to, “be around.” Being around means reading everything; going to shows; staying up to date on global and local current events; and collaborating with as many different types of people as possible. I will transfer this to my academics by collaborating with my classmates, seeking more reading on the subjects I am studying, and going the extra-mile to connect my comedic work to what I am learning in the classroom. My work has also proven to me that for my future career plans it is essential I work with people who challenge and support me, while also being enjoyable people to spend forty hours a week with.  On and off campus I want to be part of projects that challenge and excite and have a level of professional organization and pride in the work they is doing.

– Mina Bond

 

One step closer to the world of medicine

This summer, I have the opportunity to work in Dr. Lichtman’s Immunology and Cardiovascular research laboratory of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Pathology.

Me (right) and my coworker (left)

I have never worked in a lab before. In my mind, I thought working in a lab would be similar to my experience in college’s lab courses. However, the first day I came to the lab, I was amazed by how basic science research can potentially lead to huge development in the medical field in terms of diagnosis and treatments for patients. As the post-doc, Eva, I work with briefly explained to me the projects that were going on in the lab, I realized that I needed to read and self-study much more so as to be able to understand the research and ultimately to be a part of it. My impression about the lab during the first week is that doing research is challenging, but at the same time very intriguing and that I would be able to learn so much from not only my supervisor but also from other talented people in the team. The picture above is me (right) and one of my coworkers who is actually a Brandeis alumni (left).

As I get a better idea of the lab, I have set some goals for this summer:

Regarding academic goals, I want to establish a solid background in basic immune system functions, and how such immune responses can cause diseases. In preparation, I have discussed the basic science underlying this project with Dr. Lichtman and spend a portion of my free time on the weekends reading and taking notes from the textbook he published and recommended to me. I was surprised to learn that the book is also used as a learning tool in many medical schools!

Furthermore, I also aim to master the molecular techniques used in the lab and in day to day research, such as immunohistochemistry and tissue slicing on the Cryostat. This will allow me to not only make progress in my project but to effectively assist other team members in their research by generating accurate data.

Thus, I will learn how to use empirical scientific research in order to contribute to the medical field by learning from the PI and other team members.

Considering career goals, I plan to pursue a career in medicine that includes patient care and clinical or lab-based translational research. As I work in a clinic-based laboratory as a summer research internship, this experience will also allow me to explore different aspects of medicine. As I will attend department conferences and seminars throughout the course of the summer, I will be able to develop a more well-rounded understanding of medicine and the interconnection between its different aspects. I can furthermore establish a professional network at Brigham and Women’s Hospital by meeting with the professionals such as physicians, researchers and educationalists who make enormous impact on people’s lives and on the community in their everyday work.

As for my personal goals, I hope this summer experience will help me to grow intellectually, think scientifically, and be able to contribute to important work relevant to human diseases. I look forward to emerging myself in the Longwood medical area – a hub of biotechnology, of research and ultimately of medicine.

-Phuong Anh (Phoebe) Le-

Post 2: Clinical Research at SERI

Driving in the simulator. Taking an exit off the highway to our digital ski resort – see the snow-capped mountains on the right?

Here at Schepens Eye Research Institute (SERI) in Boston, I have been working on four research projects. In the first project, we are investigating the relationship between visual impairment and auditory distraction as well as the effects of age on these interactions. In order to test this, we have subjects from two different age groups (young = 20-40, old = 60+) drive in our driving simulator (see picture above) while wearing goggles that simulate visual impairment and performing an auditory distraction task. The visual impairment goggles use dispersion filters to blur vision and simulate eye conditions such as cataracts. The auditory task involves listening to an audio book and repeating back certain words (such as “the”) every time they are said. This is a lot harder than it seems. Try it at home! But not while driving. During these drives, pedestrians appear, and the driver must honk each time they see one. Response times are recorded as well as data about the control and motion of the vehicle. [Note: If you or someone you know is a current driver in the Boston area, age 60+, you qualify to participate. We are still recruiting. Contact me.]

The second project I am helping with is related to the first. In this project, we use the same auditory task, but we leave out the goggles so that we can track head and eye movement. Our eye tracking device is unable to track eyes through the dispersion filters on the goggles, so in order to examine the effects of auditory distraction on gaze movements we must do without the goggles. The eye tracking device utilizes six cameras and infrared lights around the simulator. The data we receive from this is in the form of graphs of head and gaze movements surrounding pedestrian events. Here is an example of one of these plots:

This plot shows the head and gaze movements surrounding the presence of a pedestrian. The red line represents head movement, and the blue line shows gaze movement. Yellow and green lines along the blue line show glances. The two black vertical lines indicate the time that the pedestrian is on screen. The green dash at the top is the moment the horn is honked.

The third project I am helping with involves driving with a bioptic telescope, a device attached to glasses that people with visual impairments may use to help them drive and read street signs (see picture below). Unfortunately, the telescope creates a ring-shaped blind spot around that impairs vision. Therefore, during our experimental drives, we have signs that participants look at through the telescope and honk at pedestrians they see. We then examine the timing of how the head and eyes move to look through the telescope as part of a bigger study that examines the effect of this blind spot on pedestrian detection.

Bioptic telescope

In these three projects, I help to run subjects through our experiments, which involves obtaining consent, doing vision measures (including visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and central visual field), and running them through the drives in the simulator. I also help to process and analyze the data we collect.

The final project I am working on is a telephone questionnaire that we are designing in order to gather information about how much drivers with visual impairments use in-vehicle assistive technologies (such as cruise control) and whether or not these devices are helpful. This project is in the beginning stages, and I have been helping to design the questionnaire, fill out paperwork, and pilot the questionnaire to make it clear and usable.

So far, I have been having a lot of fun and have learned a great deal about each step of the clinical research process. During my final few weeks, I hope to continue running subjects and learning more about data analysis.

For more information about the lab, visit the lab’s website here: http://bowerslab.eye.hms.harvard.edu/

If you are in the Boston area and are interested in participating in experiments here, let me know!

Post 1: Seeking Justice in Worcester County

My name is Andrea Bolduc and I am a rising sophomore studying Politics, Legal Studies, and French Language. This summer I am interning at the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office in Worcester, Massachusetts. I am working in Community Outreach and have also been paired with an Assistant District Attorney.

The DA’s Office has two missions: to seek justice for the victims of crime through fair prosecutions and to prevent crime through community outreach programs.  The DA’s Office prosecutes felonies and

This internship is especially important to me because it is a way to serve my community in Worcester County.

misdemeanors, such as arson, homicide, domestic and/or child abuse, gang activities, and financial crimes. Several specialized units, led by Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs), work together to prosecute cases in court.  The DA’s Office is active in community outreach programs and offers quality victim advocacy efforts.

 

 

For community outreach, myself and several other interns contact schools and police stations across Worcester County and try to establish outreach programs for all age groups on topics ranging from bullying prevention to the opioid crisis. This past week, we traveled to a local Boys and Girls Club and helped the Outreach Coordinator give a presentation on bullying prevention and cyber safety to several groups of kids.

It was interesting to see how, even though the message (follow the Golden Rule, telling a trusted adult is not the same thing as being a “tattle-tale”, never disclose even seemingly insignificant information about yourself to a stranger online, etc.) was consistent across age groups, the delivery evolved as the audience matured. This demonstrates the importance of reaching out to community members of all ages as a means of prevention. By establishing a positive relationship with the community, the DA’s Office is able to equip even the youngest child with the tools to keep themselves and others safe.

The exterior of the Worcester County District Courthouse.

 

I also serve as an aid to an Assistant District Attorney. Their job is to prosecute cases on behalf of the Commonwealth. My ADA focuses on cases that appear in the Central District Court. Each ADA will be assigned around 200 cases per year, so there is a lot of work to do to prepare for each one. I assist my ADA in pretrial preparation, where I help them organize discovery (police reports on the incident, relevant documents and information about the defendant), and evidence. Because a fair trial is essential, the prosecution and defense are in constant communication with one another during preparation. If my ADA doesn’t need any specific task done at the moment, I can assist other ADAs, which means that I have been getting exposure to a breadth of different cases. I can also observe different proceedings around the courthouse, such as arraignments, trials, and sentencing. The amount of work that goes into ensuring a fair trial for each defendant, while also maintaining a commitment to the laws that make our society safer, has given me a greater appreciation for our legal system.

My goal for this internship is to develop an understanding of how the law works in practice. By helping lawyers conduct research for their specific cases, it is my hope that my time at the DA’s Office will also provide me with some direction in terms of the careers through which to pursue my interests. I have always wanted to be involved in an actual case, and this summer I have the opportunity to immerse myself in legal research and trial preparation.

Stay up to date with the work that the DA’s Office does in the community and read up on cases currently making their way through the court!

 

 

A Dream That Finally Come True

After being involved in undergraduate research for almost three years, working as a Japanese peer tutor for 2 years, completing a clinical research project abroad in Denmark, and browsing and researching different websites for hundred and thousand hours, I am finally here: Center of iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University in Japan.

Outside View Of the 1st Building of CiRA


I arrived in Kyoto on June 8th, the Friday before the week I officially started my work at CiRA. My mentor, Peter Gee, offered to pick me up on the platform of the Kyoto Railway Station even though it was past 9pm right before the weekend. He walked me to the hostel that I booked for a temporary stay before I moved to the long-term apartment the next morning. He was so nice that he even bought me a bottle of iced tea and some snacks in case that I was thirsty or hungry. I was so grateful for his help that allowed me to settle in a new city very quickly and smoothly.

On Monday morning, Peter came to the place that I will be staying at for the next 2-months and we walked to CiRA together. Everything that I have seen in documentaries and on TV numerous times were all right in front of my eyes. Peter quickly showed me around the building and introduced me to the other lab members in the Hotta Lab. Everyone I met on the first day, including those from on the labs, was very nice and gave me a warm welcome. Indeed, I was very nervous going to work on that day. I was stressed about meeting and remembering a lot of new people while getting oriented in the lab in order to start working as soon as possible. With lots of new information and knowledge, that day definitely turned out to be intensive and heavy-loaded for me, but I was glad that I was able to start the experiments and to work with actual cell lines that we will need data from on the first day.

I felt extremely supported and trusted being the youngest student researcher in the lab. Peter carefully went through the possible projects and experiments I could do in these two months and asked for my thoughts and opinions on the first day. He said that the lab hopes for me to have an experience where I learn the knowledge and techniques that will be the most useful and beneficial for me. We decided that I will be working on not only the main focus of the lab,  the induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)  patients, but also on differentiating cortical neurons, which is closely related to my neuroscience major, previous research experience, and the research that I would like to pursue in the future.

One of the Exits of the Closest Station Next to CiRAMany People Working at CiRA or Other Facilities of Kyoto U as well as Students of KU Get to School from Here Every Morning


Starting from the second day, the remaining 4 days of the first week were all packed with experiments, but I was much more relaxed compared to the first day. Surprisingly, while I still felt like I was dreaming, I adapted to life in Kyoto and in the Hotta Lab quickly.  Although I received extensive mentorship and support from the lab members throughout the week, I was also given significant freedom to think and work independently just like an experienced researcher. It was a great research, academic and cultural environment where everybody is open for discussions and different opinions. I could hear active conversations not only in Japanese but also in English as a significant amount of people working at CiRA came from all over the world.

Along with Dr. Akitsu Hotta, the principle investigator in charge of the lab, the lab held a welcome party for me on Wednesday night. It was a casual pizza night where we got the chance to learn about each other a lot outside of work。

Part of the Drinks and Pizzas from the Welcome PartyIt has only been a week since I started my work at CiRA, but I have learned so much academically and experienced many new things in daily life as well.

– Xiou Wang

Week One at ImprovBoston

I just started my internship at ImprovBoston and it has been a wonderful experience thus far. ImprovBoston is a nonprofit located in Cambridge, MA whose mission is to serve the community through laughter. With a regular performance selection of New England’s premiere improv, sketch, and standup and an acclaimed comedy training program, the theater dedicates itself to inspiring, developing and sharing comedy in all its forms. Through exploring the many important applications of the creative process, ImprovBoston seeks to improve the lives of diverse audiences both onstage and off. To accomplish this goal, ImprovBoston offers classes in sketch, standup, and improv as well as workshops addressing workplace success and anti-bullying. 

My title is “Comedy School Intern,” and, as the Comedy School intern, I will communicate with current and incoming students; assist with the registration of classes and Comedy Clinics; build and maintain logistical paperwork; schedule make-up classes; and manage the distribution of performance records of the student showcases. In addition, I will assist my supervisor in new Comedy School initiatives such as assistant teaching, taking classes in the curriculum, and a new project called “S.H.E” (Sisterhood.  Humor.  Empowerment.) to support women in comedy. In fulfilling these responsibilities, I will learn about the importance of arts education, and the connection between social justice work and comedy.  

 My academic goal for the summer is to connect my learning from WGS to comedy and arts education. My supervisor started S.H.E. at Second City in Chicago, and is now hoping to launch the program at ImprovBoston. I will be conducting outreach to introduce people to improv comedy as a way of promoting mindfulness and confidence building.  In this way, I will be achieving my goal of connecting feminist theory to real-world applications.

 My career goal is to figure out if I would like to teach comedy after graduating. I currently perform at ImprovBoston and love that, so I want to see if I also enjoy teaching people how to perform. By shadowing teachers at the Comedy School and doing administrative work for the Comedy School I will learn about comedic education, working with aspiring comedians, and the Comedy School’s initiatives to support all students especially women and persons of color. The Comedy School internship is a perfect fit for me because it focuses on teaching students to find their voices and gain confidence.

I want to make connections with comics in the Boston community. I am a current cast member at ImprovBoston and despite this I still do not always feel confident or like an important member of the community. Success in comedy is all about confidence and networking. By taking on a bigger role in the comedy community I will be connected to comics who are working on projects which I may have the opportunity to join.  Ideally, I will become much more confident and consequently a more respected member of the Boston comedy community.

– Mina Bond ’19

 

Week One at Schepens Eye Research Institute

Outside of Schepens

This summer I am doing an internship in clinical research at Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston. Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and one of the largest research organizations in the nation. Their mission is to eliminate blindness, and their labs perform research on all aspects of vision and vision loss. I am interning in a lab that researches the safety and considerations of driving with various visual impairments, particularly hemianopia (loss of vison in half of each eye). I am currently being trained to help with a project investigating the effects and interactions of three factors on driving: age, visual impairment, and auditory distraction. Experiments are conducted using a very realistic driving simulator. Before learning how to help run the study, I got to be a participant. Here is a picture of me cruising down the highway on the simulator:

Me driving the simulator

The simulator consists of five giant monitors giving it 220° of view surrounding a genuine car seat, steering wheel, pedals, and dashboard. It contains all of the components of a real car, including working digital rearview mirrors and speedometer. The seat moves to mimic the physical effects of turning or accelerating in a real car. The scene portrayed on the screens is from a virtual world where conditions can be manipulated, such as weather, time of day, and the presence and actions of pedestrians and other cars. These conditions are controlled in specific ways depending on the experiment being performed. The simulator is also equipped with cameras that can track head and eye movement data.

This week, I read articles to become familiar with this field of research, and began learning how to perform vision tests on subjects, how to run the driving simulator, and how to process data. Eventually I will be performing all of these tasks on real subjects in order to collect and process data. For this study, we perform two visual tests on all subjects: visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Visual acuity is the overall accuracy or sharpness of one’s vision (a normal acuity is 20/20), and is measured by reading a chart of different sized letters. Contrast sensitivity is how well one can distinguish between light and dark, and is measured by reading a chart that has gradually fading letters.

Chart used to measure contrast sensitivity

 

Eye chart used to measure visual acuity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From this project, we hope to gain valuable information about the interactions between visual impairment and auditory distractibility. This information could be useful in the consideration of the safety of visually impaired drivers, or those considering obtaining a license.
I have known since high school that I have a strong interest in pursuing a career in ophthalmology. I hope that this internship will give me the opportunity to learn more about ophthalmology in both a clinical and research perspective. My goal for this summer is to gain experience that will affirm my decision to pursue a career in ophthalmology, and provide insight to help me to refine and discover my interests.

– Eliana Ellenberger

 

 

Finishing up at Encyclopedia of Life

Through my internship at Encyclopedia of Life, I gained great insight into biodiversity documentation, project management, and real-life work experience. I learned a lot about citizen science through classes at Brandeis, but I had not had many opportunities to see the behind the scenes operations of a citizen science organization and learn how these organization use their platform to engage the public. Interning at EOL provided me with a great opportunity to see these things first hand and make an impact in the organization.

Some observations from our August Monthly iNaturalist challenge!

My favorite part about my internship was taking everything I learned in my environmental studies classes and working with a great group of people to increase environmental education and documenting the biodiversity living around us. Although just in the beginning stages, the Boston challenge that I am helping to plan will bring together people from all across the area and get people outside to observe the nature around them. Last year’s challenge was a success and I hope to continue that trend and see Boston as a front runner.

For students interested in interning at a citizen science organization like EOL, I would recommend really taking ownership of projects assigned to you and making the most out of the experience. One of the great things about working for a smaller office is that there is a large opportunity to work on projects that interest you, and it is easy to communicate with different members of the team. Whenever I had a question, other team members were really receptive and helpful. Also, even though I was intern, the work that I was doing had an impact on the organization and I know it will help their current efforts. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn on a job and the people in the office where more than willing to provide advice.

I enjoy looking at images on EOL of species I like

I am most proud of working with a wonderful group of Boston area organizations invested in increasing biodiversity documentation and environmental education awareness. Working with these organizations allowed me to see all the different opportunities that are available in the citizen science field and what goes behind making these projects possible. It also helped increase my confidence when running meetings and learning how a small office setting works.

Even if I don’t go into the citizen science field, I will still take away an appreciation for the Earth’s biodiversity and EOL’s mission to capture as much of it as they can. I am appreciative to have had this opportunity and the real world experience it gave me.

Gerrianna Cohen ’18

Last Reflection on My Summer at Yale

As a psychology major, my academic goal this summer in my internship was to expand my knowledge of developmental psychobiology and psychopathology through understanding the current state and gaps of the clinical and developmental neuroscience literature. In the weekly lab meetings and clinical case conferences that I attended, there were presentations by lab members on articles on psychopathology and current projects. I reached my goal through exposure to current research in these meetings as well as through engaging in discussions with lab members and academics. I was assigned to present a research article in one of the lab meetings, which gave me more exposure to the literature, and helped me improve my presentation skills. I thought the experience helped me grow so much that I requested to present another article, and it really helped me with gaining confidence.

Clinical assessment is a very essential part of child clinical psychology and this internship gave me the opportunity of training in clinical assessment and administering tests which is very rare for undergraduate students. I administered and scored the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence-Second 
Edition (WASI-II) to children, adolescents, and adults as well as administered questionnaires about anxiety. I definitely reached my goal through this exposure to clinical assessment questionnaires and through entering information collected from clinical interviews. I was exposed to patients with different levels of affective symptomatology, trauma exposure, resilience, emotion regulation, stress, family functioning, and executive control. Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illnesses, and being exposed to diagnosis, learning about assessment tools, and contributing to the research for a very promising future treatment method for these disorders was very exciting and useful for my future career. Through participation in this internship I realized that I am specifically very interested in diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in children and adolescents.

Through administering intelligence tests, helping anxious and non-anxious children, adolescents, and adults feel comfortable, working directly with participants to ensure positive experiences throughout their participation, and through phone screens I reached my goal of improving my communication skills with people in general.

I would advise anyone who is looking for a Research Assistant internship in the field of psychology to email the Principal Investigators of labs.   You should choose the area that you are the most interested in and make sure you reflect your enthusiasm about the research and the lab in your email. When you are working in the lab environment, I learned that it is very important to look for more responsibility and to ask for the specific things that you want to be exposed to. I really liked working at Yale University as an institution because they really cared about the interns in terms of supervision and in terms of becoming a part of the culture of the university. They were also very careful about patient/participant confidentiality, which made me feel like a part of a serious health care facility. I would recommend this internship and I would love to do it all over again! Thank you Hiatt Career Center for giving me this opportunity!

Selen Amado  ’18

Reaching the summit: climbing with the burden of pain

My fellow science geeks, sadly, this will be my last World of Work blog post.  However, rather than focusing on the fleeting nature of summers, I wish to walk you through my achievements, insights, and trials and tribulations of working in a biomedical research lab with a severe chronic pain condition.  Since the age of twelve, I have endured an excruciating nerve pain syndrome known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)[i].  Here, I will briefly mention how CRPS affects me, with the hopes of encouraging students living with disabilities and adversity to pursue their career passions and dreams.

One of the most common questions I am asked regarding my pain is “how?”: “how do you attend college?”  “How do you participate in a research lab?”  “How do you live with the pain?”  My response remains steadfast; human beings (and life in general) possess a remarkable ability for adaptation, even in the bleakest of circumstances.  I believe in challenging the notion that extreme adversity cannot be triumphed in some form.  As you read this blog post, I hope you will view my experiences as evidence for why your hardships should never preclude you from actualizing your dreams.

Shapiro Science Center (SSC) of Brandeis University. The SSC is the annual location of SciFest, an undergraduate poster session [ii].

A few weeks ago, I presented a poster of my summer research findings at Brandeis University’s SciFest VII [iii].  SciFest is an annual poster session showcasing undergraduate student research hosted in my favorite building on campus, the Shapiro Science Center.  In this very building, I learned a cursory understanding of journal style science writing in Dr. Kosinski Collins’s (Dr. K-C) Biology Laboratory course (thank you Dr. K-C!).  I only had a taste of journal diction, yet I relished the opportunity to learn the art behind science writing.  Generating a poster presentation of original research presented my next learning opportunity.  Thankfully, the post-doctoral fellow (“post-doc”) I worked alongside and my principal investigator (PI) were ecstatic to hear about Brandeis SciFest, and strongly encouraged me to create a poster of my summer research.  Thus, I began crafting selected “mini” sections of a journal style paper, beginning with an abstract, followed by a curtailed introduction and figure descriptions of my experimental evidence.  I was fortunate to receive invaluable advice from my co-workers; I passed my writing along to my supervising post-doc, asking her to tear my writing apart.  I wanted her to know “I mean business” when it comes to learning.  I circulated my writing amongst lab members, also gathering my PI’s sage advice.  This gave me a small taste of the manuscript writing process, an essential component of every research laboratory.  This process culminated in a poster, which, upon entering this summer, I knew little about.  My poster explored the role of cysteine restriction in energy homeostasis, focusing on a key metabolic pathway known as the trans-sulfuration pathway.

Pictured above is the intersection of the methionine cycle (from methionine to homocysteine), the folate cycle (far left), and the trans-sulfuration pathway (bolded in red). I focused on the enzyme CGL, or cystathionine-gamma-lyase. This figure was created with assistance of Yang et al. 2016  [iv].
I am immensely proud of my poster and presentation, given that my success represents triumph both over internal and external doubts regarding my capacity for achievement in the face of debilitating pain.  Given that my physical disability effects my left hand and arm, I was concerned regarding my ability to efficiently learn new experimental techniques.  However, with patience, I successfully completed methodologies such as Western Blotting [v], including the pain-inducing sonication step [vi].  Sonication involves “shooting” high energy sound waves into a sample containing proteins and nucleic acids.  The sound waves shear DNA into small chunks, thus liberating nuclear (nucleus-bound) transcription factors (proteins) for proteomic investigation.  I may have taken a few extra minutes to complete this step, but I obtained pure proteins, which I was able to immunoblot for [Western Blotting] analysis.  Another technique I am proud of learning is mouse dissection.  Although simpler than the microscopic Drosophila (fruit fly) dissections I have attempted at Brandeis, mouse dissection still requires significant dexterity and focus.  I was concerned I would lose control over my left hand, or that the pain would inhibit my precision.  However, I excelled, even learning how to excise “speck-like” structures such as the pituitary glands in the brain and the thyroid gland in the neck.  I also improved upon techniques such as RNA tissue extraction, reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) [vii], study design, statistical analyses, and more.

Altogether, I am quite proud of my tireless work this summer, both experimentally and regarding my pain condition.  I see my work as another step towards achieving my career goals in medicine.  There is an expanding pile of evidence that my pain will not write my story; I will.  I wish to convey this simple fact to other students living with disabilities and adversity; you can achieve your greatest dreams and more.  Although I have yet to accomplish my goal of becoming a physician scientist, I know I will get there.  You will reach your goal too.

 

-Josh Lepson

 

References

[i] American RSDHope. 2017. CRPS OVERVIEW/DESCRIPTION. Accessed on August 17.

http://www.rsdhope.org/what-is-crps1.html

[ii]  Brandeis University. Integrated Media – CAMPUS BUILDINGS. Accessed on August 17.

https://www.brandeis.edu/communications/media/mediaresources/buildings.html

[iii] SciFest. 2017. SciFest VII Abstracts. Accessed on August 17.

https://kb.brandeis.edu/display/SCI/SciFest+VII+Abstracts

[iv] Yang, M., Vousden, K.H. 2016. Serine and one-carbon metabolism in cancer. Nat. Rev. Cancer. 16(10): 650-662.

[v] ThermoFisher Scientific. Overview of Western Blotting. Accessed on August 17.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/life-science/protein-biology/protein-biology-learning-center/protein-biology-resource-library/pierce-protein-methods/overview-western-blotting.html

[vi] New England Biolabs. DNA Fragmentation – Application Overview. Accessed on August 16.

https://www.neb.com/applications/library-preparation-for-next-generation-sequencing/dna-fragmentation

[vii] ThermoFisher Scientific. Basic Principles of RT-qPCR: Introduction to RT-qPCR. Accessed on August 17.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/brands/thermo-scientific/molecular-biology/molecular-biology-learning-center/molecular-biology-resource-library/basic-principles-rt-qpcr.html

Reflecting on Research at CANDLab

So far, my internship at the Clinical Affective Neuroscience and Development lab has been an amazing experience. I have always loved the lab environment, a place where everyone is continually learning and helping each other grow, but this lab has a particularly great environment. Everyone is supportive of each other, the graduate students are a source of positivity and advice for the interns and the lab manager is always looking out for the interns to get more out of the internship.

It is very different to work as a summer intern research assistant compared to being a research assistant during the year. As a summer intern, I can see what a full time research assistant job would be like in terms of the hours and work that is done. I am a part of a team, and I see how, in the world of work, interactions with your co-workers are extremely important and valuable. It is different from the academic life in that you are not working for your own goals and achievements, you are working with people for a common goal. As a person who likes working in a team, I am really enjoying this aspect of the work.

A career in child clinical psychology requires a very long process starting from an undergraduate psychology degree to the postgraduate internship after your PhD. First of all, the experiences you have as an undergraduate majoring in psychology are very important. In order to be a good candidate for getting accepted to a PhD program in clinical psychology, which is what I want to do in the future, you need to have a lot of experience in the research field. This internship is giving me exposure to clinical research in the field of anxiety disorders and also giving me exposure to anxiety disorders in children. It is the most challenging lab I worked at, and I had the ability to get trained on things that will be extremely important in my future career as well as in future jobs right after college. I  administer intelligence tests, trauma questionnaires and anxiety inventories. These skills will help me in my future career. Another experience that is important to have in undergrad is clinical experience with children. This internship is giving me the opportunity to interact with healthy children and children with anxiety disorders. It is an amazing chance to improve my communication skills with children and their parents. This has been one of the best aspects of this internship and I think it will give me an advantage in the future when applying to jobs.

Selen Amado ’18

 

 

Slow Season for Broadway? DKC/O&M Keeps Busy!

One of the other interns and me at the Tony Awards after party at the Carlyle Hotel!

Experiencing the Tony Awards, from the red carpet to the hottest after party at the Carlyle Hotel, was nothing less than absolutely fantastic! It always seemed like a distant dream to me and there I was, attending the same party as so many of my idols. Even though it was about a month ago, it’s still crazy to think that I was in the same room as celebrities such as Bette Midler, Olivia Wilde, Ben Platt, Sally Field, Anna Kendrick, Kevin Spacey, Darren Criss, Corey Cott, and about four hundred others. By the time I went to bed, I had been awake for over 20 hours but I didn’t even feel tired. I was very grateful for all of the adrenaline I was running on! That following week, the interns were kept very busy as we archived every mention of our shows from the Tony Awards on every news and media outlet, along with preparing for the opening night of “1984,” a new Broadway play based on George Orwell’s book adapted by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. “1984” recently premiered on June 22nd, so there was very little time after the Tony Awards to get everything together. Much of our time was spent on picking up and preparing tickets and press lists for the following week.

At the beginning of July, I moved into an apartment only four blocks from my office, which has cut my 2 hour commute into 10 minutes! I love being so close to work because I’m not exhausted while there and can really focus on what I’m doing. I’m also able to see many shows on Broadway since I live so close which is how I love to spend my evenings.

Soon we will be preparing for the opening of Michael Moore’s new play, “The Terms of My Surrender.” I feel more prepared having already done work for the opening of “1984” and hope that I will be able to help even more than before. The summer is typically a very slow time for the Broadway world but we are lucky enough to be part of two shows that begin during the summer.

Working with DKC/O&M has solidified my desire to go into Arts Administration after college. Since we don’t offer courses around Arts Administration at Brandeis, I really didn’t know what it was or that it was even an option for me. I am very grateful for my internship because it is very difficult to truly learn what it is a press agent does in an academic setting. So much of the work is hands on and it’s great to be able to get that experience with DKC/O&M. Getting to see how different situations are handled first hand is invaluable. I love the environment I’m in, the people I’m working with, the work I’m doing, and the experiences I am lucky enough to have. If you find yourself interested in working in Arts Administration, my suggestion is that you apply for every internship you can get your hands on. The theater community, especially in New York, is so small and close knit that no matter where you end up, you’ll be connecting and working with people from all different areas of Arts Administration. You’ll make extremely valuable connections and it can’t hurt to try something different than what we’re always studying in school!

End of my Internship

I ended my internship working with the Program Services and Survey department at FCD. For the survey department, I finished the lit review I was working on for background information about parental supervision and permission to drink and supply at home. Hopefully they can use what I have researched to help with the publication of some of their research that they have already done using the surveys they give to school and the data they have collected from it. I also helped my supervisor in the survey department scan some of the last surveys they got from the 2016-2017 school year using their scantron.

For program services, I completed a few assignments and I was able to work with the high school interns that arrived in July. They are working on these videos that FCD will send to individuals that have signed up for the weekly newsletter. Each video talks about a certain topic, for example, one of them they talk about normative beliefs and they are also hoping to be able to interview a prevention specialist. I met with them to talk about some of their ideas and sat in on one of their practices to give them a different perspective. It was  interesting to get their perspective of what they thought of FCD as high school students, which is part of the grade level that FCD works with. In addition, I looked over a research update one of the other college students worked on earlier this summer and contributed a bit of data that I found from my research on parental supervision of alcohol. I provided some of my ideas and opinions on it and our supervisor will attempt to use what she created and some of the edits I did to make a finalized version of this. I also worked on a PowerPoint that prevention specialists will be able to use as one of their resource. This was actually a request from one of them after one of their students asked them what the inside of a human brain looks like after using substances. FCD wanted to give accurate data but also did not want to use scare tactics and say things like “these are holes in your brain” when really it is just less blood flow to certain areas. I found some images like this one under the alcohol section. I used these images to create a PowerPoint and wrote some summaries and discussion questions for the prevention specialists to use.

Student Comments: So many are positive!

Coming into this internship, I did not have the most specific goals and I think that was good because I came in with an open mind and did not think that only certain things were worthwhile to do. I had wanted to learn more about prevention in general because that is what FCD specialize in. I definitely think I met that goal after interning there this summer. They were open to questions and were so willing to explain things to me about FCD. I also wanted to get a better sense of how a health-related organization is run. I was able to work in all four of the departments over the summer and that gave me a good idea of how each department is critical and necessary to a health organization. I liked having this background internship where the prevention specialists are the ones who talk to the schools while people at the administrative building at FCD provide them with the support they need to make everything work and run smoothly. I wanted to see how a public health organization can affect the community it works with. Seeing how many schools have worked with FCD and reading student comments about FCD showed how much they have impacted the lives of these students.

 

FCD works across the globe to teach students about prevention.

I still am not quite sure of what I want to do after graduation. I don’t know if it made me want to work specifically in a substance abuse prevention organization even though I enjoyed my time at FCD immensely. At the same time, FCD is so unique, I don’t think I will find something that is quite like it. I did enjoy working at this small non-profit and I felt welcomed into their community. I have always known I do like working individually for the most part on assignments. But after interning at FCD, I realized I do like being able to bounce ideas of my supervisors and fellow interns have the space and ability to ask questions and get suggestions. One thing I noticed is that sometimes I just have a hard time getting started with a new assignment or project. I have this feeling of not wanting to mess it up already and just not being very confident in myself to produce exactly what my supervisor is expecting. After FCD, I realized that sometimes I just have to make the plunge and start it after I have asked all the clarifying questions, and it will usually turn out fine.

I think that a student who wants to intern at FCD should know that the people who work there welcome all questions that you have. They encourage interns to ask questions and to question things they do in order to learn. They value an intern’s input and will ask for their opinions and ideas. At FCD, an intern has to realize this is a smaller organization and people are very passionate and motivated about the work they do. Prevention, to them, is not just a class but an environment they hope to create in communities. There will be independent work but supervisors are always willing to help and ask questions. I think in these health non-profits in general, people have to realize, for the most part, the people who work there are extremely passionate about the mission of their organization. At these smaller non-profits, everyone has to help with everything. Although my supervisors and other all helped when the need arose. I think that is something people have to realize when going to work at a smaller organization; although you may be going in to do something specific, you also have to help with the general running of the organization.

I think the thing that I am most proud about after this internship is the fact that I was able to produce things that was not just for an academic grade but could actually be used in the real world. I’m just really glad I was able to help the organization with their mission. I think it really helped that my supervisors were always willing to explain to me why I was doing something so it never felt like I was just given a random task to do as busy work. Knowing why I did something gave it value. I am proud that, for example, the intern evaluation I made for FCD will be used in the future and the PowerPoint I made could be something a prevention specialist might use in the classroom in some distant school. FCD was a lovely organization and I am so glad I found them and that I was accepted into their organization with so much welcome and support.

Setting up a challenge

For the past couple of weeks, I have been diving deep into planning for the City Nature Challenge for 2018. The CNC is a week long competition between cities across the nation to document the most biodiversity in their area. It is an exciting way to get the public outside and observing the local life around them. This year, the competition is expanding all over the world with participants in six continents in over 60 cities. I am confident the Boston area will be a top contender.

Ending a successful day at EOL

For the Encyclopedia of Life, we are focusing on creating educational materials to support high school educators and students during the challenge. The Learning and Education group at EOL has developed many resources throughout the years focused on getting students involved in citizen science and open science. My personal favorite is the species cards that can be used out in the field or in EOL created lesson plans. The hope of getting students involved is to spark interest in the environment and become inspired to change some of the issues facing us today. If students can feel a connection with nature then they will feel more likely to protect it.

Our goal for the CNC is to create a comprehensive source of materials including lessons plans, species cards, and tutorials that formal and informal educators can use to get their students outside making observations that contribute to science. With these materials, students will feel empowered to make meaningful observations and contribute to a larger database of species data. Scientists then can use this data in research and published papers, which I think is pretty cool.

Logo from the 2017 CNC

One of my favorite moments so far from my internship was leading a group meeting with three other Boston area organizations. I have been communicating with this group throughout the summer and it was exciting to talk with them again. Our role as a committee in the CNC is to generate interest in the Boston area and get people excited to participate. We have to think about things like communication, fundraising, and outreach to other local organizations to make this year a success. It is fun working with them and learning about how a committee works.

Overall, I have been enjoying my time here at EOL and am looking forward to my last few weeks of the summer. National plans for the 2018 CNC are on their way and I am making sure the Boston area is prepared and ready to go. As for the education plans, I am excited to see how many students and educators we can reach to use our materials!

Gerrianna Cohen ‘18

 

The Final Metamorphosis from Caterpillar to Butterfly

Jacksonville, North Carolina is home to more country music stations than all other radio stations combined, has the best fast food chain in the world, Waffle House, and is also known for its most beloved non-profit, Possumwood Acres. The two months that I spent there were filled with a million new experiences–I tasted grits for the first time, learned how to determine if a bird is dehydrated/emaciated, and saw a wild horse colony on an island. Now that my experience is quickly coming to a close I can say that I was really lucky to be exposed to the inner workings of a non-profit, the techniques necessary to take care of injured wildlife, and the “southern mentality.” It’s amazing what one person can do when they set their mind to it. Or when they get an unpaid internship and want to get as much out of the experience as they can. Either way you can’t go wrong.

Baby birds cuddle up really close to keep each other warm

Having completed a whopping 245 hours at Possumwood Acres, I am really proud to say that I learned beyond what I initially anticipated. I met all of the requirements for the “General Checklist” and went on to begin to complete the “Advanced Intern Checklist,” a fact of which I am very proud of. I am extremely satisfied with the experience I got interning at Possumwood Acres, and I can most certainly say that it helped me determine what I want to do with my future. Although I very much enjoyed my involvement in animal care (despite the stress associated with the job), I can honestly say that though I will not be continuing this specific avenue for a career, I am definitely invested in continuing my path in the environmental field. This internship has solidified my interest in protecting the environment in the many forms that that may come in. From this experience I learned that I am even more passionate about animals than I originally anticipated and that I am capable of learning a great deal in a short period of time.

A juvenile American Robin excitedly hops out of the incubator every time I open the door

For anyone interested in getting an internship, I would apply as early as possible. I managed to get this internship in early November. The earlier you start looking for internships, the more likely it is that you’ll actually get one. Employers will also be more likely to hire you for the job because the application pool is much smaller in early November and December. I would also try to narrow down your search to a specific type of internship, so you aren’t wasting your time applying for a position that you aren’t interested in. I knew that I absolutely wanted to work with animals so I bypassed anything that seemed like a glorified office worker position.

An osprey gets a physical examination by some of our experienced staff members

I think I am most proud of myself for doing something that was outside of my comfort zone because although I knew that the work would be tough, grueling, and hard at times, I also knew it would be extremely satisfying.

Sabrina Pond ’18

Halfway Through (well a bit more) and Still Having Fun

It is a bit more than halfway through my internship and I have been enjoying my time at FCD immensely. As mentioned in my first blog post, for the first half of my internship, I worked with Client Relations and Administration. One of the main things I did for my supervisor in Client Relations was look for community coalitions in different parts of the U.S. FCD has worked with substance abuse prevention community coalitions in the past, but they wanted to expand their relationships and see if they could cultivate more contacts with these different groups. I focused on finding groups in New England, New York, California and the Chicago area and tried to find their contact information and contact person for my supervisor in Client Relations.

In Administration there were a few projects that I was involved in. I consolidated line items on their financial statement that Hezelden sends over to them monthly. I did that for 2016 and part of 2017. That involved spreadsheets and moments of panic when the totals I found for each month did not match up to the financial statements we received, which led to backtracking and trying to see where I entered the wrong amounts. I was also tasked to do was create a form for interns to evaluate their internships and to foster discussion between a supervisor and their intern. FCD has had interns in the past but had never had that many. This year, there were three interns including me. Two of them have left but two high school interns will be coming in. The director of FCD wants to make internships more systematic and to create a way to evaluate both the interns and allow interns to evaluate their experience at this organization. I was sent a few links that had information about evaluation forms schools used and some other examples that businesses had. I did some of my own research and then created an evaluation form based on these examples. It is still in the working stages but they have used it with the two interns that have left and we will see if they have any comments on it.

The second half of my internship I will be working with Program Services and Surveys. From what I have been told, I think I might be helping with the editing and updating of some of the educational materials they use in the classroom and I might be working with the high school interns.

Posters that have been presented

I worked with Surveys this past week. The first day, I was introduced to the survey they give to students whose school opt to do it. After the data is collected, the results are given back to the schools. I learned about how it was created and how schools might use the data. I also looked at some of the posters they have presented at the APHA using data they have collected. One of the first assignments I will be doing is a literature review. Individuals at FCD have presented their findings about adult supervision when using alcohol and other substances and how that affects usage. It seems that contrary to what is widely believed, adult supervision may be protective in short term effects but long term effects of usage are not protected against. Their findings are summarized here. I will be looking more in depth about this and hopefully do a literature review about it.

Interning at FCD is different from school and it so far has been a very good experience. I like not having a structured day and just having a list of tasks that I have to do per day. I can divide up my own time much more easily and it just feels easier as time management goes. There is also a lot of collaboration in this organization. It might be because it is a smaller one, but I often hear people calling to each other from their rooms to ask questions or solicit advice from each other. To me it is just interesting that individuals who specialize in different departments and areas can come together and drive FCD’s mission forward. Being only one of the three interns, and for a week, the only one, I also feel like they give me a lot of time and space to ask them questions. I can just walk into their office a lot of the time, or they will come visit mine, and we can just sit down and talk. I ask them about FCD, about public health issues and even about how they got to where they are and they are always so open and encouraging. I never feel suffocated here, or mollycoddled, but I never feel intimidated when I have questions to ask; I really enjoy the freedom I am getting at this internship to not only do the tasks I have been assigned but also to ask questions and learn from them.

Some research for the lit review

I also have felt immediately welcomed into their group. During a few of the group meetings they have once a week, I have sat in and the director of FCD has always asked how I was and for my opinions about different topics or problems they are discussing. I am always allowed to jump into the discussion if I have any input or questions and it has made this internship a very comfortable experience. I have been even allowed to sit in on in person interviews and a phone interview for prevention specialists. They have asked for my opinion about each one, and if I don’t talk, the director will ask me to speak and give some feedback.

At this internship, I do think I have been learning and gaining some new skills that I can definitely use in the future. In general, I do think my organization skills have increased so much after having to keep track of so many files and line items when making spreadsheets. I also have learned how to be more deliberate and precise with my wording when creating documents for them. When I listen to how they talk about things, they pay so much attention to the wording of what other people say and how they say things. Having a proper tone and using the right words is not some new idea for me exactly, but the precision they have makes me think twice about how I word things now; it just never hit me exactly how much it can affect how something is seen or presented. I also think that sitting in on interviews has given me evidence that being deliberate and precise is so important. Being able to sit in on these interviews has enlightened me on how interviewers look at a potential candidate during an interview and what things are liked and what things are frowned upon in this setting. A bit more than halfway through my internship, I am having an incredible time at FCD and I definitely believe that the rest of my time will be just as enjoyable and will be a great learning experience.

The Panacea for Obesity: Fat!

Hello fellow science lovers!  Since my last blog post[i], I have been quite busy and have generated exciting and perplexing data.  As a brief reminder, I am working within the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School[ii], focusing on hydrogen sulfide signaling using genetic knockout mouse models.  In particular, I am focusing my research on a knockout (KO) mouse strain for the major hepatic (liver) endogenous hydrogen sulfide producing enzyme, cystathionine gamma lyase (CGL). When I wrote my last blog post, I was beginning to examine key gene expression and protein expression levels between wild type (WT) control mice and CGLKO mice by reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR)[iii] and Western Blots[iv] respectively.  I continue to rely on these powerful molecular biology methods, where I attempt to connect the dots between differential gene and protein expression levels.  Recently, my data has lead me towards a nutritional framework, where I have been particularly interested in dietary-induced and dietary-resistant obesity.

Pictured on the right is the ob/ob mouse strain compared to a normal, wild type mouse strain on the left. Ob/ob mice are deficient in the feeding inhibiting hormone leptin, and thus are used in obesity and diabetes research [vii].
Given the pervasive rise in obesity and diabetes within the United States (US), therapeutic targets for dietary-resistance to obesity are a “hot” research topic within the field of Endocrinology and Metabolism.  In a special report published in 2005 within the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the authors predict “that as a result of the substantial rise in the prevalence of obesity and its life-shortening complications such as diabetes, life expectancy at birth and at older ages could level off or even decline within the first half of this century.”[v] This stands in stark contrast to human trends, where human life expectancy has steadily increased over the past thousand years [v].  Thus, the need for breakthrough research discoveries regarding obesity, metabolic disease, and diabetes has never been more imperative.  A major research target in recent publications has been the heat-generating, master energy consuming mammalian brown fat, or brown adipose tissue (BAT) [vi].

In mammals, BAT is a major tissue site for chemical production of heat (thermogenesis) from fats, which has made BAT a promising target to induce weight loss[vi].  Traditionally, when exposed to cold temperatures, humans generate heat by shivering [vi].  However, mammals such as mice and human infants possess vast BAT depots, allowing thermogenesis during cold exposure to be driven by the chemical uncoupling of cellular energy production, oxidative phosphorylation [vi].  This chemical uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation is achieved in part through expression of uncoupling protein-1 (Ucp1) [vi]. Additionally, white fat or white adipose tissue (WAT), the classic form of stomach fat we all attempt to minimize, can be induced into a BAT like state, known as “beige” or “brite” fat [vi].  This beige fat has thermogenic capacity, and because thermogenesis relies on the breakdown of fat depots in order to generate heat, beige fat has the ability to burn excess fat depots and promote a healthier metabolic system [vi].  Countless studies have demonstrated that “expanding the activity of brown fat, beige fat or both in mice through genetic manipulation, drugs or transplantation suppresses metabolic disease.”[vi] One such stimulus for expanding beiging of WAT is dietary control.  Thus, because of the vast therapeutic potential of beige fat and BAT, I have been particularly fascinated by diets that can induce beige fat and or increase BAT activity.  Such a diet could have broad reaching implications for metabolic disease, and could help reduce the estimated 300,000 deaths per year related to obesity [v].

Here, major anatomical depots of brown adipose tissue (BAT), white adipose tissue (WAT) and beige adipocytes are depicted. This figure portrays differences between fat locations in (a) mice and (b) humans.   Genetic markers are given for each adipocyte type in the lower right hand corner  [viii].
Compared to my classroom studies at Brandeis, working in a biomedical research lab allows me to explore complex physiological topics that I would never confront in an undergraduate class, such as BAT and beige fat thermogenesis.  After running experiments on RNA, DNA, and proteins extracted from both control (WT) and CGLKO mice, the results almost always spur me to read a slew of research papers and reviews, which guide me towards a holistic understanding of what is occurring inside my mice. For example, I have examined Ucp1 expression levels in my mice, leading me towards reviews regarding thermogenesis. This ability to read beyond only what is assigned to me is a wonderful aspect of research which is mostly absent as an undergraduate at Brandeis.  I find this freedom allows me to become more excited about the material, and often causes me to gleefully share theories of mine with my co-workers, most of whom are post-doctoral fellows.

Similar to last summer, I am loving the environment of working in a basic science research lab.  I am continually refining my molecular techniques, learning new assays weekly, such as the protein concentration quantification bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay[ix].  With each data result or conversation with the post-doctoral fellow I work alongside, I learn new complex signaling pathways within mammalian physiology.  After each biweekly lab meeting, I learn new elements of modern thyroid research, continually building upon my knowledge base of intricate thyroid endocrine regulation.  These molecular biology techniques combined with novel biology concepts will serve me well both in my future Biology coursework at Brandeis and in my future pursuits in and after medical school. Who knows, I may even end up a practicing Endocrinologist and participating in BAT thermogenesis research!  Only time will tell.

– Josh Lepson

[i] Brandeis University Hiatt Career Center. 2017. World of Work (WOW) Summer Internship Blog: Harnessing Science for the Common Good. Accessed on July 2.

Harnessing Science for the Common Good

[ii] Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 2017. Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Accessed on July 2.

http://www.bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Medicine/Divisions/Endocrinology.aspx

[iii] ThermoFisher Scientific. Basic Principles of RT-qPCR: Introduction to RT-qPCR. Accessed on July 2.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/brands/thermo-scientific/molecular-biology/molecular-biology-learning-center/molecular-biology-resource-library/basic-principles-rt-qpcr.html

[iv] ThermoFisher Scientific. Overview of Western Blotting. Accessed on July 2.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/life-science/protein-biology/protein-biology-learning-center/protein-biology-resource-library/pierce-protein-methods/overview-western-blotting.html

[v] Olshansky, S.J., Passaro, D.J., Hershow, R.C., Layden, J., Carnes, B.A., Brody, J., Hayflick, L., Butler, R.N., Allison, D.B., Ludwig, D.S. 2005. A potential decline in life expectancy in the United States in the 21st century. N. Engl. J. Med. 352(11): 1138-1145.

[vi] Harms, M., Seale, P. 2013. Brown and beige fat: development, function and therapeutic potential. Nat. Med. 19(10): 1252-1263.

[vii] The Jackson Laboratory. B6.Cg-Lepob/J. Accessed on July 2. https://www.jax.org/strain/000632

[viii] Bartelt, A., Heeren, J. 2014. Adipose tissue browning and metabolic health. Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. 10(1): 24-36.

[ix] ThermoFisher Scientific. Pierce™ BCA Protein Assay Kit. Accessed on July 2.

https://www.thermofisher.com/order/catalog/product/23225

Getting started at Encyclopedia of Life

Outside of the MCZ where EOL is located

This summer I am very excited to intern at Encyclopedia of Life’s Learning and Education Department in Cambridge, Massachusetts. EOL encourages discovering biodiversity on Earth and their mission is to generate an encyclopedia of all the living species on Earth. One of the great things about EOL is that it is an open platform that can be used by anyone. I enjoy looking up my favorite plants and animals on the EOL website and finding out some pretty cool facts and figures. The Learning and Education Department utilizes a lot of this data to develop tools and applications that support educators, citizen scientists, and students when using EOL.


For my internship, I am working on the City Nature Challenge for the Boston area, which is an annual competition between cities across the nation and around the world to find the most biodiversity in their area. This is a great way to get people outside and engaged in science as well as increase data on the different species. Last year was the first year Boston was involved and we observed over 740 different species over a period of 5 days! I am looking forward to seeing Boston as a top runner in next year’s challenge.

Open science and citizen science, both large aspect of EOL, are great ways to engage the public in science projects through data collection, education, and advocacy. I am interested in it because it has so much potential to raise awareness and educate people about environmental issues facing us today such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. By participating in projects, people can get hands on experiences that relate to these issues and the data collected can be used for scientific research or even impact governmental policy.

eol.org

My first day at my internship, I walked through Harvard Yard to get to the Museum of Comparative Zoology where EOL is located, and a huge turtle shell welcomed me into the building. Right away, I got into what I will be working on for the next couple of months and got familiar with EOL. Throughout the summer I will be reaching out to engage naturalists, educators, and environmental enthusiasts in EOL as well as map out the 2018 challenge for the Boston area. So far, I have contacted and met with a number of great organizations in the Boston area that work together to engage the public in science.

My goal for the summer is to develop and implement recruitment efforts for the 2018 challenge and help strategize ways to get EOL materials out on a national level. EOL’s goal is to have materials used by educators and students all throughout America during the city nature challenge as well as part of other community engagement efforts. Overall, I am very excited to see how the summer develops and what I am able to accomplish.

Gerrianna Cohen ’18

My First Week at CANDLab

My first week at Clinical Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab at Yale University was amazing. On my first day, after a 15-minute walk from my apartment through the beautiful buildings of the Yale campus, I arrived at the Psychology building on Hillhouse Avenue, a street so charming that both Charles Dickens and Mark Twain have described it as “the most beautiful street in America”. I went in and met the lab manager, Jason Haberman, who is a Brandeis alumnus, the graduate students and the interns. The lab environment was very nice, with two rooms for running participants and a waiting area, a common area for working, computers for the research assistants and graduate students, and the office of the lab manager. Everyone gave me warm welcomes, and introduced themselves. There were students from many different colleges and backgrounds; together to help understand the brain circuits underlying anxiety disorders to enhance the treatments for these disorders.

Psychology Building, Hillhouse Avenue

Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illnesses, and very little is known about the brain circuits underlying these disorders. In these two months, I will be working on the lab’s main project: “Novel Mechanisms of Fear Reduction Targeting the Biological State of the Developing Brain,” which is funded by two grants received by Dr. Dylan Gee, my supervisor, the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award and a Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Award. The project aims to examine the neural and psychophysiological mechanisms of safety signal learning. Learning of safety signals encompasses learning processes, which lead to the identification of episodes of security and regulation of fear responses. So to put it simply, safety signals inhibit fear and stress responses, and inability to produce these signals are related to excessive anxiety. This study adapts a paradigm used in animal studies to test the efficacy of safety signals across development in healthy children and adolescents and those with anxiety disorders.

My first week was a week full of training, and I learned a lot of exciting things. I got trained on building participant packets and binders, which included the clinical interview questionnaires that are used to scan for the various anxiety and other disorders that the participants might or might not have. Then, I learned about the questionnaires that are administered to the participants and their parents for different things like emotion regulation, anxiety, depression, resilience, and trauma exposure. Later in the week, I was trained on administering the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, which is an intelligence test that we administer to all participants to make sure our subject pool has a an average or above the average IQ. The test takes 1-2 hours depending on the participant’s age, level of anxiety and other factors. It was my first time learning about WASI, and it was very exciting to see how a standard intelligence test is administered for different age groups. After the training, I administered the test to myself, and another intern later in the week. To be able to administer it to participants, I need to administer it to the lab manager successfully, observe a graduate student, score the test and discuss the scoring. I am looking forward to going through these steps and administering it to an adult participant, and eventually administering it to child participants.

Photo by: Rebecca Crystal

As a psychology major, I want to expand my knowledge of developmental psychobiology and psychopathology through understanding the current state and gaps of the clinical and developmental neuroscience literature. In the lab meeting, the clinical case conference and the journal club meeting that I attended this week, there were discussions on current projects, articles about related research on psychopathology and on cases of participants. It was amazing to be in these discussions with such knowledgeable students and Dr. Gee who is a very experienced researcher. I am looking forward to having these discussions every week, to improve my eloquence and discussion skills and to leading a discussion next week.

 My personal goal for this internship is to build on my existing communication skills with children, adolescents, parents, and adults. Through administering intelligence tests, helping anxious and non-anxious children, adolescents, and adults feel comfortable in the fMRI scanning environment,  and working directly with participants to ensure positive experiences throughout their participation, I hope to reach my goal of improving my communication skills with people in general.

 I have learned so much already in my first week and I can’t wait to learn more and apply my knowledge and training! It has been an amazing week and I’m sure the following weeks will be no less!

Selen Amado, ’18’

Once Hopping Half-haphazardly, Now Hopping with Purpose

No matter what time of day, concerned citizens holding small, injured mammals make their way to our doorstep at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary. The admissions are non-stop this time of the year, and the circumstances surrounding the entry oftentimes tragic: a bunny that was run over by a car; baby birds that fell from their nest; a juvenile pigeon that suffered a dog attack. Or even more concerning yet, a pet owner who became “bored” with their animal and doesn’t know what to do with their pet. Though I am frequently face-to-face with animals that are in dire need of care, I’ve come to a wonderful conclusion about human nature. Humans have an amazing capacity to take action when it comes to the welfare of others, especially animals. No matter how serious the case, or unlikely the recovery, we get animals that thereafter have a fighting chance. Now that’s something to be proud of. It also proves how necessary our services are to the public, and how our founder, Toni O’Neil, really did fill a need in the community when she founded the non-profit.

A baby bunny with its eyes still closed after a syringe feeding.

Having interned for a whopping four weeks at Possumwood Acres, I’ve gained a great many new skills: how to feed baby bunnies, why we “piddle” them once they’ve eaten, how to weigh Barred owls, how to tube feed pigeons and mourning doves, and the many reasons why we administer certain medications, as well as how to administer them. I’ve also become acquainted with a good number of interns and volunteers, and I’m always amazed at their know-how and desire to provide the best care.

Goats “maxing and relaxing” despite the overwhelming heat of summer in North Carolina.

Although it can be rather stressful in the animal care room as we struggle to make deadlines and provide good quality care, making sure to feed, clean, or administer medications to animals, there’s nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment. I’ve come a long way in four weeks—no longer am I constantly asking questions about how to do something or where things are located. I’ve never felt that kind of satisfaction from taking exams or attending classes.

Nika, Possumwood’s resident Mississippi Kite, patiently waits for her hand-fed dinner of delectable meal worms

If I’ve already come this far, I absolutely cannot wait to see where the pieces will fall at the end of this internship. The confidence and authority that wafts off the more experienced interns is inspiring; only a few weeks ago they were in the process of learning the ins-and-outs of the job. Now they know exactly what to do when someone admits an injured, juvenile mockingbird, or what medication to give an adult bunny that appears to have suffered brain damage. Now that’s something that I can aspire to.

Red, the Red-Headed Woodpecker, tries not to look suspicious as he plans his ultimate escape from Possumwood (how original–he’s going to use his beak!)

Sabrina Pond ’18

First weeks on the job post

FRED.GIAMPIETRO Gallery

Hello everyone! I am so excited to keep you all posted about my incredible summer internship! I am an intern at the FRED.GIAMPIETRO gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, right across the street from the Yale Art Gallery and the British Art Center, where all the museums are in dialogue with one another. The Giampietro Gallery is an incredibly special kind of gallery, which unfortunately is fading in the art world. All of the artists represented, and the pieces in the collection, are carefully, and lovingly handpicked by the owner, and he specializes in discovering up-and-coming and local artists, as well as folk art. The gallery’s vision merges folk art with contemporary art, to reintegrate contemporary art with art that has traditionally not been recognized as Fine Art, and giving these artists a place in the art historical conversation.

I was very excited and nervous to begin working at the Giampietro gallery, because my plan has always been to work in the art world as a painter, and potentially open my own gallery, however I did not know how these two could merge, and even if the gallery world was the right place for me. After working two weeks at the Giampietro Gallery, I can confidently say that the gallery world, and opening up my own gallery someday, is exactly the place for me! I have already learned so much. I have mastered the inventory program used by most galleries and museums in the country which is an incredibly beneficial skill to have upon entering this world, learned the cataloging system, have formed relationships with many of the artists and other well respected gallerists, updated the website and artist’s pages, managed the press and publications for the Gallery’s blog, learned the intricate process for packaging and shipping art, and even played an integral role in the installation process, as a new show just opened last Saturday! All of these skills are CRUCIAL when working in the gallery world, which is an intimidatingly elitist industry.

As sad as it is, art and artists really do not receive press, and therefore, much respect in this world unless they are in New York, but Giampietro gallery is the only gallery in Connecticut, and one of the only galleries outside of New York that is honored to participate in many art fairs in New York.

I have learned so much about the art world’s atmosphere, and about which kinds of galleries or museums I would best fit in, and I can clearly say now that I have a vision for what I want to do when I graduate, which was my biggest goal for this summer. I am so incredibly excited to continue throughout the summer and gain more and more experience and responsibility in the gallery! I already have a key and have been trusted with opening and closing the gallery, and I am so excited to take on even more responsibility and absorb as much information as I possibly can in order to open my own gallery, and learn the next steps for me.

Here’s a sneak peek at the show that just opened on Saturday with artists: Becca Lowry, Elana Herzog, and Jane Miller.

Olivia Joy ’18

Harnessing Science for the Common Good

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School

Working in a basic science biomedical research laboratory within the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School[i] has been an incredibly exciting experience.  I started to work in the Lab two weeks ago, located within the Center for Life Science in the heart of the Longwood Medical area.  Since I worked in this same Laboratory during the Summer of 2016, I was welcomed into the research environment, and was able to pick up where I left off last summer.  After recently completing animal research facility training, I began working with laboratory mice, focusing on a knockout (KO) mouse strain of the major hepatic (liver) endogenous hydrogen sulfide producing enzyme, cystathionine gamma lyase (CGL).  The Lab I work in is interested in the regulation of human metabolism by master endocrine regulator, thyroid hormone.  Thus, I have been investigating the relationship between thyroid hormone and endogenous hydrogen sulfide production capacity, with an emphasis on extension of longevity using mouse models.

Inside the laboratory, much of my work consists of analyzing key gene expression and protein expression levels between wildtype (WT) control mice and CGLKO mice through various physiological states.  My research consists of dissecting mouse tissue ex vivo, performing an RNA extraction from that tissue type (i.e., liver tissue, brown adipose tissue, etc.), running a reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR)[ii] using several key gene markers, and performing statistical tests on differences in gene expression levels between WT and CGLKO mice.  For proteomic analysis, I perform Western Blots[iii] and statistical tests to establish potential differential protein expression in CGLKO mice.  Once I have gathered meaningful data, I present the results informally to the post-doctoral fellow I work alongside and to my Principal Investigator (PI).  However, living systems are complex, and bewilderment can punctuate results.  At these times, I turn to scientific journals for answers.

Pipettors and laboratory reagents (Sigma-Aldrich, Fisherbrand by ThermoFisher Scientific): friends of the biomedical researcher.

Biomedical literature publications, such as Brent et al. 2014[iv], have guided me through the complex physiology of thyroid endocrine regulation.  As an incoming third year undergraduate student, dissecting complex signaling pathways with my current learning foundation is a daunting task, especially considering the wealth of knowledge and graduate degrees that my co-workers possess.  However, my co-workers and PI have been and continue to be excellent learning resources.  Bouncing theories back and forth with the post-doctoral research fellow I work alongside is a daily occurrence.  This collaborative environment is characterized by persistent questioning of results and interpretations, which has filled my scientific soul with joy.  This stands in stark contrast to undergraduate classes, where the measure of performance is reflective of the individual, rather than a research team.

Looking forward, the skills I am learning, both in molecular methods and thinking as an experimentalist, will bolster my ability to succeed as a Biology major at Brandeis, and as physician scientist in the future.  I wish to exit this summer with the framework to think as a biomedical researcher, with the ultimate goal of generating meaningful research that can mitigate human suffering.  This can be easy to lose track of in the busyness of a lab, but I hope this goal remains tethered to my being; science for the common good.

[i] Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 2017. Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. Accessed on June 4.

http://www.bidmc.org/Centers-and-Departments/Departments/Medicine/Divisions/Endocrinology.aspx

[ii] ThermoFisher Scientific. Basic Principles of RT-qPCR: Introduction to RT-qPCR. Accessed on June 4.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/brands/thermo-scientific/molecular-biology/molecular-biology-learning-center/molecular-biology-resource-library/basic-principles-rt-qpcr.html

[iii] ThermoFisher Scientific. Overview of Western Blotting. Accessed on June 4.

https://www.thermofisher.com/us/en/home/life-science/protein-biology/protein-biology-learning-center/protein-biology-resource-library/pierce-protein-methods/overview-western-blotting.html

[iv] Mullur, R., Liu, Y.Y., Brent, G.A. 2014. Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism. Physiol. Rev. 94(2): 355-382.

Josh Lepson

Beginning at the Benson-Henry Institute

Hello all! I am excited to be sharing my journey interning at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine. BHI, an MGH affiliate, rallies around the Relaxation Response: a technique that teaches people awareness techniques and coping skills to combat everyday stress and more challenging situations when they arise. BHI’s mission is to encourage the incorporation of the Relaxation Response into all forms of healthcare worldwide, through research and clinical practice. The majority of their work is done through research and clinical trials and providing individuals with tools and methods to reduce the impact of stress on their lives. And it’s working! In fact, a study BHI recently conducted shows that “BHI Participants Reduced Doctors Visits by 43%.” If you’re interested in reading more about this study please click here.

(Image from: Mindful.org)

In my first two weeks at BHI I have become deeply immersed in the clinical trial process. Currently, we are working on two big groups of studies that I am part of. The first, a pair of parent studies, are evaluating the efficacy of the Relaxation Response through a BHI-developed Resiliency Program on reducing stress in two parent populations. The studies are virtually identical procedurally, and they are wait-list control group trials which means participants are divided randomly into either a wait-list or a control group and their stress levels are compared before and after they undergo the program. What I find to be really interesting is the way BHI measures stress. For this study, they use both self-reporting measures through a series of surveys as well as biological indicators of stress through quantitative measures.

 

The second type of study is still in startup, so while I  participate in the recruiting process firsthand for the parent studies, I also  see what goes into a startup for a study before it even begins. For our study in startup,  I  participated in a full study run-through where I acted as the patient and we tested the electronics and walked through the entire study visit to ensure it will run smoothly when it begins.

A diagram of the Resiliency Approach our Program Teaches (Smarthwp.com)

I have done so many things during my short time here already. I have learned to read and understand study protocols, recruited on a large scale for the final cohort of the parent study, learned to converse over the phone with potential interested participants and explain our programs as well as answer questions, and I have  interacted with numerous clinicians including physicians during research team meetings. I have undertaken the important task of writing detailed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to aid in the training of future interns. I have participated in an RR session, where we lead relaxations for hospital staff to elicit the Relaxation Response during the workday, and I hope to lead one of these sessions during my time here. I now have a good understanding of the importance of the Relaxation Response and I hope that by leading an RR session and learning more about the detailed practices which we teach in our programs I will be able to implement the RR into my daily life and teach those around me to do the same!

 

I have already learned so much in my first two weeks at BHI and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead! I have BHI to thank for welcoming and teaching me, and I have much more to learn. I’ll be back with another update in a few weeks!

-GP ’19’

Broadway Awards Season with DKC/O&M

I am spending my summer working with DKC/O&M. DKC/O&M are the press representatives for many new Broadway shows, along with many longer running shows. They also represent some off-Broadway shows, theaters, and people. It is difficult to learn about public relations in an academic setting because so much of it is hands on work. Luckily, DKC/O&M is giving me the opportunity to explore the world of public relations on Broadway and allows me to better improve my interpersonal skills in a business setting.

My commute to and from work is just under two hours – if my train is not delayed. However, I spend the train part of my commute studying up on shows my company represents that I do not know very well. Once I arrive at work, I sit down at my desk and immediately start working on the Web Clips I have been sent. This will sometimes include Broadcast Clips and Paper Clips that I compile, format, and save for future reference.

Broadcast Clips are made after there has been any mention of one of their productions on a television network. I am able to anticipate when I’ll have a Broadcast Clip to work on if I know that there is an actor being feature on a talk show. For example, Brendon Urie is joining the cast of Kinky Boots with his first performance on May 26th. He was featured on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” the other evening, so when I arrived at work the next morning, I had a Broadcast Clip to prepare. Paper Clips are similar except are created when a show or actor is featured in a newspaper.

Throughout the day I will be assigned tasks from various people in the office which can range from proof reading press releases to picking up tickets at a theatre to working on press blasts. It is awards season on Broadway so the work we are doing at DKC/O&M is even more important and time sensitive, so I have to learn quickly. My notebook is quickly filling up with information on how to do different tasks and anything else I might need to know.

Marc J Franklin

Since it is award season, I have the opportunity to attend the Audience Choice Awards Winners Reception with DKC/O&M this week! I am so excited for this opportunity because I never imagined I would be at one of these types of events! Most people know about the Tony Awards but there are so many other awards given out throughout Broadway’s award season. On Friday we waited anxiously in the office for the announcement of the Drama League Awards and were thrilled when Dear Evan Hansen, Hello, Dolly!, Bette Midler, and Ben Platt (the youngest actor to ever receive the Distinguished Performance Award) were given their awards. I am looking forward to Tony Awards week and I am extremely hopeful for the shows that DKC/O&M represents. O&M has many shows nominated for various Tony awards such as A Doll’s House, Part 2 (8 nominations), Dear Evan Hansen (9 nominations), The Glass Menagerie (1 nomination), Hello, Dolly! (10 nominations), and Present Laughter (3 nominations). I expect many wins for these shows and am so excited for the work I will be doing around the Tony’s weekend.

 

A Bird in Flight: My First Week at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary

Having just studied abroad in Australia, I assumed that I wouldn’t see the interior of an airplane for a long while. Traveling back took approximately 24 hours, including layover time, so I grew weary of flying and the stress associated with traveling and jet lag. I couldn’t have been more wrong; only two weeks after making the trip back home, I found myself separated from my hometown once again. The location this time: Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Little did I know before coming that the U.S. Marines are stationed in Jacksonville, NC. Nor did I realize that the only reason this town exists is because of the Marines. I found myself going in and out of the military base, and every person I met was somehow involved in the Marines; either they were married to a Marine, had a family member in the Marines, or were themselves in the Marines. I was struck not by the incessant humidity and ungodly heat, both of which I anticipated, but more so by the immediate differences I noticed, as if there was a strict line between North and South. I encountered people who took serious pride in their right to carry arms, heard the beginnings of a southern accent, and realized that “southern hospitality” was not just a stereotype, but a real-world phenomenon. NC also turned red for the past election, so I started to have firsthand experiences with more conservative sentiments, something I couldn’t really say before.

The highlight of my excursion is that my internship at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary challenged and excited me; I spent my first week learning about animal care in all the ways that were advertised. I walked through the main door to the animal care room and without a moment’s pause the volunteer coordinator, Ellie Althoff, said to me, “Okay then! Let’s get started.”

The view of the animal care room from the front door, and from that first moment onward I knew that there was a lot that had to be done.

My first day was busy and hectic as I exclusively worked with the birds. Because it is currently baby season, the animal care room is extremely packed and the phone rings off the hook; every day there’s another possum, bird, or duck that gets taken under our wing. As of now, that basically means that we have what feels like a trillion birds, almost all of which need to be fed every thirty minutes. I learned quickly how to feed these differently sized birds using syringes, including proper techniques, the different kinds of food they required, and how much to feed the different species.

House sparrows, chipping sparrows, and finches sit majestically next to each other on a branch, waiting semi-patiently for the next feeding.

Almost everything I was told ended with “and if you do this wrong, you’ll kill the [insert animal here].” Although those words did strike fear in my eyes, I was surprised how welcoming and understanding the volunteers were when I had questions. They never once made me feel terrible when I made a mistake. And mistakes I did make. My first day I accidentally let two birds out of their cage and almost killed a bird because it swallowed a syringe tip. I was lucky that another intern managed to get the bird to spit out the syringe. Despite my incompetence, the other volunteers’ gentle reassurance and constant support never ceased and even though I had fallbacks, my determination to learn more never wavered.

Baby turkeys relax under a feather duster having already made a mess of their cleaned cage.

Compared to Brandeis academics, it is immediately apparent that my internship is more demanding, requires hands-on experience, and will ultimately teach me more in a shorter period of time. I enjoy this kind of experiential learning because although knowledge is great for a foundation to understand a topic, doing something firsthand is the best way to become well-versed in a field. I expect that that’s why residencies exist. For this reason I believe that this internship is teaching me valuable skills that I can apply to an occupation in animal care.

Four juvenile barn swallows and one juvenile rough-tailed swallow gleefully look at the photographer (me).

One basic thing I learned this first week that I implicitly already knew but didn’t understand fully is just how rigorous animal care can really be. So many things need to be considered for the animal’s welfare, and for that reason it can sometimes be overwhelming to work in the animal care room. Even so, I have never felt so tired or so satisfied because of the work I completed. And that’s why I look forward to another week at the animal haven known as Possumwood Acres.

Sabrina Pond

First week at FCD

My office for the summer

This summer, I will be interning at FCD Prevention Works located in Newton, MA. FCD stands for Freedom from Chemical Dependency and it is a substance abuse prevention organization that has an international reach. Started as an independent non-profit, it has now merged with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which itself is a merger­­—the Hazelden Foundation and the Betty Ford Center—and operates addiction treatment centers across the United States. Although having slightly different missions and goals, these two organizations connected through their overarching desire to reduce the effects of substance abuse.

 

FCD accomplishes its mission of prevention and education largely through its classroom and school visits, where they interact with both students and the adults at the school and the surrounding community. Not only do they work with schools in the US, they also have a global reach, working mostly with American International Schools in different countries across the world. To teach these programs, FCD utilizes their Prevention Specialists, a group of individuals they find through interviews and who they personally train. These Prevention Specialists are also required to have gone through some sort of addiction and be in healthy recovery so they are able to teach using personal experience and stories. A recent Today Show, segment on addiction featured FCD Prevention Specialists in the classroom and family members of one of the employees working in my office, whose family has a history of addiction. That seems to be one reason why FCD is so successful in what it does; because these individuals have gone through some type of addiction or personally know people who have, they know what it is like and can speak from personal experience about what addiction and substance abuse can do.

FCD also uses the social norms approach to encourage prevention of substance use. They attempt to show students that what they think is the “norm” in terms of alcohol and drug use may actually not be the case in order to dissuade them from use. They use data from surveys and assessments to try and give children and adults actual facts about usage, which many of the students they talk to actually find very useful and interesting.

Joseph Kennedy III featured in the Spring 2017 edition

This summer I will be working at FCD’s administrative office that does much of the behind the scenes work so that everything runs smoothly when the Prevention Specialists are out working with the clients.

There are four main departments—Client Relations, Administrative Services, Surveys and Program Services—with about one or two people in each. The plan for me this summer is to hopefully be able to assist in each department. The first half of my internship will be working with Administration and Client Relations. I have been helping HR with organizing and making employee personnel files and cataloging what each file has on a spreadsheet. I have also been updating some of the educational documents they use and emailing clients back student survey answers after they have completed the program, which hopefully shows schools how useful and engaging these programs are. I have also sat in on one of their administrative team meetings to see how everyone collaborates on projects. Later in the summer, I should also be working on the surveys and some data analysis in order to create some handouts and learn more about how clients view FCD. I may also be working on their social media platforms and some research to contribute to their training curriculum.

As an HSSP major, I hope to learn more about addiction and the public health issues that surround this topic. It is a contentious issue that inspires political action (Joe Kennedy III once participated in a FCD program when he was in school and is now a huge supporter of mental health reform) and being part of an organization that has such a deep connection to this will hopefully provide me with a better understanding of the complexities surround it.

I also hope to learn more about what non-profits are like and gain more hands-on experience with health administration as well as apply the skills I have learned in my HSSP classes to real world problems and assignments. Finally, I want to practice my communication skills, both in writing and speaking because I do think these are things I need to work on and improve upon before I leave school and go out into the real world. I am so excited that I have been given this opportunity to intern at an organization with so much influence across the globe and with individuals who are so fiercely passionate. Hopefully I will learn more about addiction and gain some experience while helping this organization further their mission and goal.

Wrapping Up the Summer

In these last couple of weeks, I made so many new friends and really got to explore the character of San Francisco. Now that my internship, along with the summer, has come to an end, I’m so grateful for the time that I got to spend there. At times it was hard and tedious scripting inside when I knew that the weather outside was so nice, but the sense of accomplishment when you finished a project was more than enough to fuel my progress.

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I would say that I’ve met my learning goals because I have learned so much in terms of information extraction from working with sources with all sorts of formats and different languages; and source analysis, especially since the projects that I was working on were a part of a much large collective project to collect and document linguistic information. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to learn as much about the translational algorithms that we use as I would have liked because of the time constraint, but it was still interesting to argue and research about semantic ambiguity and sense disambiguation in order to provide the best translating through our database. But, I think that I learned the most by absorbing information from the collective experiences of the wonderful staff that I worked with.

I think that this summer has made it clear that I am capable of data extraction work, but I also learned that if the sources are too similar to each other, the work eventually became tedious to do because at that point, you aren’t writing code but rather changing variables and conditional statements. I tried to combat that by switching which types of sources that I was working on as well as the language that I was processing through so that the challenges that I would face would be different. This internship has shown me that I am still very interested in how a computer understands languages, but I would rather process information that is not as regular as the dictionaries, webinaries, and sources that I have been working on over the summer. I’ve learned that I’m also very much into researching different ways to tackle a problem and debating with someone the pros and cons of implementing within a system.

2016-09-05 18.17.08My advice to anyone who would be interested in working at PanLex is to be really interested in the work that they are doing, and to take initiative to research and bring up projects that you would like to do with the staff. The staff is very open to different views and ideas as long as you can support why this would be more beneficial than the current way. Furthermore, take advantage of all the resources and opportunities that come with working for a branch of a larger parent organization, and the fact that you are in San Francisco. I went to talks that were held by the Long Now Foundation, including one on Quantum Computing and the Rosetta Project, and have gone to different conferences, such as IMUG, with PanLex. As for the field, at some times, the work will be tedious, and others you will be trying to debug a problem for hours without making progress. Take it one step at a time, and try to set mini goals for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask someone to look over your code, and most of all, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being in a different mindset, and looking at the problem with fresh eyes.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 6.11.16 PM

I think that the projects that I’m most proud of are the ones that focused on lesser-known, endangered, or extinct languages because I feel that by adding them to our database, we are doing our part in trying to fight against language death and proving a resource for languages that usually don’t get funding for translational programs such as Google translate. My favorite moments included when our database could translate something that Google translated as question marks, and I added linguistic data of a language into our database that was not supported by Google.

Sooyoung ’18

Kids and Cataloging: Where did the Summer Go?

It’s mid-August and my internship at the Swedish American Museum has finally drawn to a close. I can’t help but wonder where the summer went! Even though I learned and accomplished so much, I still feel like there’s so much more to learn, somehow. I set out this summer hoping to advance my research skills, get practical experience that will help me become a historian in the future and to hopefully connect with my past by learning what it was like for my Swedish ancestors. To an extent, I accomplished all of this. I researched for a practical purpose – every now and then, a guest will come through the museum and recognize someone in the old photos on display; usually, the only information we have in regards to the photo is whatever the donor supplied, which isn’t always enlightening. On several occasions, I helped to dig to see if anything more could be found. There was also a lot of research involved with several projects for the children’s museum such as a self-guided tour. This last was probably the most beneficial for my career goals. In the beginning, I had hoped that observing guests in the museum, taking note of the most common questions, would help me better direct and focus any writing I would do for my audience; this was something I really had to work on when creating the tour guide. As for my personal goal involving my own Swedish heritage, while I gained knowledge on Swedish culture, I can’t say it was the right time frame to relate to my immigrant grandparents.

It was weird closing down my work station for the last time... Although I won't miss that loading screen!
It was weird closing down my work station for the last time… Although I won’t miss that loading screen!

While a curator’s job and a historian’s job are quite different, I can say that I now have a different view on the final product of a historian’s work, as both rely heavily on the presentation of the facts learned- historians via writing and curators via the display of artifacts.

If you ever find yourself interning at any small to medium sized museum, take into account that it’s not likely to be adequately funded or staffed, so everyone shares the work. Chances are, you’ll end up helping out in the store for a day or preparing crafts for the education department (or doing something like this: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/museuminfo/news/event/pioneer-the-world-day-camp-%E2%80%93-session-i/) instead of working directly with the material and the artifacts. It may not be what you expected, but being shuffled around like that, you learn a lot; it’s up to you how you decide to apply that knowledge.

The children's museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their "passports", but I guess I'll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?
The children’s museum comes complete with a ticket booth for kids to get their “passports”, but I guess I’ll need to buy my ticket back to Brandeis, huh?

I’m rather proud of this project: my supervisor, had received an email from a real estate agent, asking if we could tell her anything about the history of a certain building in another neighborhood. All she provided was an address. Not even knowing what connection this building had to the museum, my supervisor asked me to look into it. Naturally, the building wasn’t in our records, so I turned to Google; I dug and dug, flipping through real estate sites, census records, building codes, anything that came to mind. It wasn’t a particularly famous building, a small music venue, so there wasn’t a whole lot to be said, but after following dozens of links and Google searches, I found out that the architects of the building were a relatively famous Swedish duo (http://rpwrhs.org/w/index.php?title=Michaelsen_%26_Rognstad), known for their work in Chinatown. After finding that connection, researching was a lot easier and I was able to provide a fair bit of information. I guess the reason that moment sticks out for me is because it’s closer to what I was expecting/hoping to do this summer and I enjoyed using and proving my research skills for a practical purpose, outside of school.

 

Finishing Summer at SACHI

Leaving any project is difficult, especially ones worked on exclusively for an entire summer.  It seems like the finished product is rarely what was initially planned. I believe this is because better ideas have organic growth during the maturation of a project. The summer and my internship finished before I knew exactly what was happening.  There were twists and turns, and here I am with a finished project and a head full of knowledge and experiences.

I learned how to use the javascript library D3 (https://d3js.org/) to build my visualization, a standard in the industry, and improved my programming skills in general.  During my internship, SACHI began a reading group to discuss important foundational papers in Human-Computer Interaction and to keep up with the current research being conducted in the field; we would read a paper every week and discuss its contributions to the field and its research methods.  These discussion groups provided me with insight I didn’t plan on receiving.  Analyzing the research methods of other people (especially groundbreaking research) provided me with a strong foundational understanding of the field and its methods.

Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”
Photo: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/tech-time-warp-engelbart/ From “The Mother of All Demos”

This additional understanding, along with the work I completed this summer, has helped me cement my interest and future goals in Human-Computer Interaction and more specifically Information Visualization, as well as helping me plan potential future research of which I wish to be a part.

This summer also helped me through a great deal of self-reflection.  I had never traveled to a foreign country alone, and living in Scotland for three months was a sink or swim exploration into the daily reality of adult living.  While at work I learned the power of persistence (if I don’t fix this bug, nobody else will) and how to work a full day in the lab, I would go home and learn the amazing power of a grocery list before going shopping (I have a problem with impulse shopping when alone).  At the beginning of the summer I was terrified I was unqualified for my position and unqualified to be a functioning adult.  But I did it!  It was difficult, admitting sometimes that I didn’t know what I was doing and asking for help, but that’s universal.  Very few people are experts at everything, and most people are glad to help.

That’s been one of my huge takeaways and something I’d recommend everybody take advantage of no matter their field.  Talk to people! To anybody working in a computer science or any research lab like SACHI:  Ask people about their research.  People are all doing incredible things, but people rarely share their work without prompting.  Now, most people in the lab are working towards publishing for the biggest Human-Computer Interaction conference, CHI (https://chi2016.acm.org/wp/).  I’ve learned so many things just from casual conversation, and in turn, getting feedback from somebody else on my own work is useful when I’m stuck or frustrated.  Sometimes I forgot the big picture can be groundbreaking when I’m stuck on one piece of the puzzle, and that’s how to keep motivated.

To anybody working in research, design, or even just computer science as a field, I would highly suggest exploration in your work.  When there are multiple ways to accomplish a goal, don’t just choose the method that first comes to mind, spend an hour or two (or more), following other trains of thought.  When facing a problem from multiple directions, you get a more clear view of what the solution needs to include.

And so now I’m done.  That in itself feels like an accomplishment.   But even more than that, I’m proud that I get to continue.  The work could still be improved, and that’s the plan.  I hope that my visualization will reach a point that it’s publishable.  This summer was absolutely fantastic, and I’ll not only look back on the memories, but forward to what I can now achieve.

One of the SACHI weekly meetings
One of the SACHI weekly meetings

–Katherine Currier

Post 2: Keeping On At SACHI

For the last month, every conversation that goes on long enough will eventually reach the topic of politics, except rather than American politics, which I’m confident speaking about, these conversations tend to involve British politics. This is in the wake of the recent referendum in which, with a margin of two percent, the UK voted to leave the European Union (I used this to help understand what happened:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887).  The aftermath has been chaotic, and despite my opinions on the topic, the experience has been a crash course for British politics.

These conversations mostly happen over lunch or coffee breaks, during which one person will stand up and ask everybody else in the office if they would like to join for tea or coffee.  The huge group that would then migrate to the kitchen includes people of all different levels in the “hierarchy” from the undergraduate researcher to the post-doc or lecturer.  It was difficult getting used to talking so casually to supervisors, but getting to know everybody has made me more comfortable with my position in the group and I’m not as nervous speaking with the supervisors.

The coffee machine
The coffee machine in its natural habitat

And of course, I work and have my weekly meeting with my supervisor.  Our meetings have progressed since I first started working. What began as brainstorming sessions, taking influence from similar projects like http://mariandoerk.de/edgemaps/demo/, have become more status update sessions and refocusing my direction as I take some form of ownership over the project.  Though, obviously, she has the final say, I’m not worried about bouncing different ideas by her or disagreeing with her.  

Because I work on the project every day, there are occasionally unforeseen issues that come up.  And if these issues are small, I manage them myself according to my own judgement, which is unfortunately occasionally flawed.  I enjoy the weekly meetings for the feedback.  While most of the time the feedback involves smaller tweaks to the work, sometimes we come to the conclusion that I’m going in the wrong direction (such as when I wanted to incorporate a timeline into the visualization).  That was difficult at first, taking a chance and being wrong, but I’ve stopped seeing these ventures as wasted time.

Very rarely are ideas entirely wrong, they’re mostly just inappropriate for the problem I’m solving or the current situation.  I’ve begun to write down most of my ideas for later use or to use for a different project. I’ve come back to some of the first ideas after I hit a wall. Even if I don’t use the exact idea, it puts me back in the mindset I had when I was first coming up with the concept, which is nice when I forget the idea and focus on some tangential part.

Here’s one of the earlier sketch ideas that were scrapped, but later used for parts of other parts of the project.

Sketches

I’ve started to use this “write down” thought process for things outside of work.  Here’s the page for this blog post:

Blog
Very few of these notes made it into this post

 

–Katherine Currier

Future Profession: Working with Cornerstone Church of Boston

I have just begun working with Cornerstone Church of Boston. It has been such an amazing and eventful internship thus far. Already, I have gone to Bridgeport, Connecticut to work with Habitat for Humanity to create homes for families that will impact their communities. We landscaped lawns and yards, and painted walls and doors. Although it was tough and dirty, the reward of seeing people’s lives changing was worth it. I was there for about 3 days and 3 nights, and wound up bonding with my team. With all the work, we also visited a few places in Connecticut in our downtime and ate amazing food. I learned through this small trip that service was not just supposed to be a 9-5, once a year kind of activity, but a sentiment to carry on in our daily life. Whether that be as a person of a faith or not, helping others should be something we as humans should strive for. Relating to my internship, it opened my eyes to see that working in a church ministry setting isn’t just at a local level, but outreaching to communities nearby.

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In terms of getting my feet wet, I would say that it has been fairly easy to get into the swing of things with the staff team. I have attended Cornerstone Church in Boston during my time at Brandeis so I knew the pastors on staff, and I just met the other intern. We attend a weekly meeting on Tuesday and the interns get to see how some decisions are made for the church community, and we also get to see how relationships work between coworkers in a non-cubicle setting. During the second half of the meeting, we discuss our lives and get to know each other more on a personal level. The meetings have really connected me with the pastors and allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable with them and with the new environment.

In terms of duty and responsibilities, they have presented a lot of opportunities for me to lead the community and get hands on work to learn what it feels like to be a pastor and leader within the church. I have been given tasks to lead college ministry events, a weekly community group, and also to lead music ministry, also known as worship ministry. I have had experience leading, but I have never had the responsibility of logistics and seeing how these ministries fit into the bigger picture and vision of the church. It has been easier than I expected, but challenging as well because it is a lot more responsibility to handle. Thankfully the pastors have been by my side the whole time training me and giving me constructive criticism to allow me to improve! I cannot wait for what the rest of the internship holds.

Daniel Choi ’18

Photos Library

Week One at SACHI

It had just finished raining when my plane landed at Edinburgh airport in Scotland; the runway was covered in small puddles and the air felt damp with that after rain musk. But the sky was clear and blue and a wonderful signal that my drive to St Andrews would be dry and my luggage wouldn’t get soaked. And that’s when I learned that the Scotland sky is a liar. It can always rain.

But St Andrews is old and beautiful, home to the ruins of a castle and the creatively named University of St Andrews. The university has a long list of titles (the oldest university in Scotland, Prince William attended this university and met Kate here, etc.), but most importantly (or at least most relevant to me and you the reader), they also house the SACHI research group in their School of Computer Science. SACHI is a catchy acronym for St Andrews Computer-Human Interaction, where they perform research into innovative technologies to aid in the daily life of people. Computer-Human Interaction, or HCI, is the “people-person” of computer science; we focus on the applications of developing technology rather than the theories and algorithms behind much of computer science.

This summer I’m working with Dr. Uta Hinrichs on updating the Speculative W@nderverse, an international research project between computer scientists and literary scholars at the University of St Andrews and the University of Calgary. This project explores the potential impact of early science fiction stories on the development of the genre through the use of digital visualization tools. Its focuses on the “Bob Gibson Anthologies of Speculative Fiction,” a unique collection of thousands of sci-fi stories. I’m designing, implementing, and evaluating a novel interactive web visualization to help literary researchers investigate the role of pulp magazines and periodicals within this vast and unique collection.

To summarize, I’m developing a visualization to explore and understand all of these hundreds of anthologies. Information (or data) visualization is the limbo between the intersections of computer science, graphing, statistics, psychology, and design. Robert Kosara explains it more eloquently in his post.

Dr. Hinrichs has been developing the Speculative W@nderverse long before I arrived here; here’s a screenshot of the interactive visualization:initial

 

My work is going to be added to the existing site. Here is a very preliminary exploration of the data that I created in this first week (showing the categories of science fiction themes and each anthology’s inclusion of these themes):

vis1

It certainly fulfills the graph aspect of visualization (and has wonderful colors), but is useless for exploring the data in terms other than the themes of each anthology. But I have two and a half months to go, so I’ll improve my design and software development skills during this time. I’m excited to work alongside experts in the field and become more familiar with research practices in computer science, human-computer interaction, and information visualization. And while I learn from the graduate students and faculty here, I hope to make more personal connections and friends. And hopefully by the end of the summer I’ll learn how to understand the temperature in Celsius.

Katherine Currier ’17

 

 

Kids and Cataloging: My First Weeks at the Swedish American Museum

I’ve already been at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago for two weeks, although it feels like a lot longer! The Swedish American museum is a mid-size museum in Chicago that tries to connect people with their Scandinavian heritage as they educate both children and adults on what it was like to be a Swedish immigrant in the United States, describing Swedish-American culture from the nineteenth century to the present. They operate a children’s museum that aims to detail the difficulties and dreams of people who arrived in Chicago (here’s the website: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/childrensmuseum/). Although it’s called a museum, it’s really more of a playground for the kids- with hands on play, they explore what life was like for a Swedish American in the late nineteenth century. However, the museum doesn’t concentrate on solely the past, as they also endeavor to present modern Swedish-American culture, such as the exhibit currently in the gallery, which is about Scandinavian drinking culture (you can check that out here: http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/exhibits/currentexhibit.php).

The Swedish American Museum Brunk Children's Museum
This is the outside of the model stuga, or Swedish farm house, that kids can play inside. There are even smocks and work shirts so the kids can dress up like nineteenth century Swedish kids.

At the museum, I’m a shared intern between the Collections department and the Children’s Museum. My first day, I was dropped head first into my project for the summer in the archives; basically, I’m digitizing records associated with different artifacts. It’s giving me an in depth look at how the cataloguing system at a museum works, which will no doubt be important for my future career as a historian. For the museum itself, though, organization right now is key, as they are in the process of reorganizing the archives. By digitizing these documents, I’m making it far easier to locate forty years worth of information, so that anyone looking can find a description of the artifact itself as well as its history.

When I’m a Children’s Museum intern, I’m actually working on several different projects, such as a revised self-guided tour for adults in the Children’s Museum. Many grown-ups are put off by the sign on the door that says the museum was designed primarily for kids between 6 and 12, even though there’s so much more for people of all ages to learn. I’ve really enjoyed this project because it’s allowed me to explore the Children’s Museum more and get a close look at all the objects that the kids are allowed to handle and play with; it’s helped me build up a cache of facts so I can answer questions by the kids and the parents when I act as a docent. I enjoy this part a lot because it outlines what people are most curious about; since I want to be a historian one day, it’s important for me to know what people are interested in and how they best react to that information so I know how to share what I’ve learned as a researcher.

I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to explore my chosen career field more and I’m really looking forward to getting more involved in my projects throughout the summer, as well as getting to know all the super amazing staff and volunteers at the museum!

The Children's Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.
The Children’s Museum is basically a playground, including a model American cabin and farm that the kids can play inside.

 

 

Saying GoodBye to Cofradia and the Dominican Republic

As I am writing this post a nostalgic feeling consumes my body. What I learned and experienced exceeded my expectations and goals.  When applying to the World of Work Fellowship, I wrote about my desire to understand better the Afro-Dominican traditions as one of my main goals. I never imagined how immersed I was going to be in the process of learning about it.

Throughout the summer we had seven projects to work on, one of them was the “Escuela de Atabales” in the Romana. During that project we worked together with a Portador de Tradicion, a person in charge of preserving and continuing the traditions in the community, to inaugurate a school that teaches how to play different rhythms of Palos and Gaga as well as its history. It was the first time I visited the Romana. The specific place where the school was build is an impoverished community, which means that it has little or no space for investing in the youth people living there. Therefore, the Escuela de Atabales served as tool not only to pass information about history and tradition but also to organized the youth into something positive. When I first joined the organization I never imagined how impactful the projects I would be working on were to the target communities.

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After spending my summer working with Cofradia I understood that I want my work as an artist to reach beyond a museum or gallery space. I want to share my skills with communities that are underrepresented and with the help of others create spaces for healing and learning throughout different artistic practices. Many of the artists that I met during this summer share their skills with underprivileged people, especially young people. For instance, Camilo Rijo Fulcar who with a group of other musician started giving free music classes in the Conde. Although the lessons were open to everyone they focuzed more on the children who work in the area as boot cleaners. Eventually, this idea turned into an organization call Asoartca, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asoartca/1595308404051068?pnref=lhc.  I found this very inspiring, as I saw the great impact it did on the children. In a system that makes childhood available to only those that can afford it, creating a space for learning, play and community is an essential for our future generation.  

If someone is interested in working with Fundacion Cultural Cofradia or in a field that requires the interaction with people from a range of social class and customs one has to be open and respectful towards people’s believes. You do not have to agree with everything you experience but you have to leave your pride outside the door. At the same time be ready to manage the frustration that comes with trying to reach out to government sites in charge of supporting the advancement of these communities. Other than that be ready to step out of your comfort zone, the Fundacion Cultural Cofradia wants you to learn, explore, and experience everything the the Afro-traditions in the Dominican Republic can offer.

What I am the most proud this summer was my willingness to challenge myself. I traveled to different parts of the country to collect information for the organization. In many instances I thought I was not ready for the job. Then I understood that there is not a special manual to do new things, you just have to bring your knowledge and an open heart and mind to make mistakes and learn from them.

  • Daniela Marquez 17

Traditions that Survive and Inspire

They invited you to dance merengue and eat mangú. Come, consume us, and believe that you are getting the full package. You will leave satisfy and ignorant because what was sold to you as our culture it is only the surface of the richness that exists in the Dominican Republic.

I am not talking about the beaches in Punta Cana but the Gagá of the Hermanos Guillén in Yamasá. A celebration in where the whole community gets together to commemorate the only black San Antonio de Padua. In here people dance, eat, talk and sing but the party really starts when the Gagá arrives.

Gagá, one of the many cultural traditions we enjoy thanks to the ever-going interaction and relationship between DR and Haiti. Just like the Gagá, there are a variety of rich traditions, carried by communities that despite past and current oppositions by the church and some government officials, it breathes in the hearts of those that still practice them.

Unfortunately, these traditions lack the support from governmental sites in charge of investing in the arts and culture of the country. Making it harder to get recognized and survive and get passed to future generations. Fundación Cultural Cofradía is a non-profit organization that promotes and preserves the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions in the Dominican Republic. They work closely between the members of the community in charge of keeping these traditions alive and the Ministerio de Cultura, to create programs, events, and workshops aim to maintain and ensure the passage of these traditions to future generations. At the same time these programs becomes a positive and productive outlet to express the youth in these communities.

My responsibilities vary depending the project I am working on, but generally it is a combination of office and fieldwork. As part of the office work I am in charge of keeping in track with the projects set up for the following months. This means researching and communicating with different companies that could facilitate materials for the workshops or schools, keep files organized and develop a new website and plan to get the organization more active in social media. Then, the field work is where I have the most fun. I get to take pictures to of the celebrations to keep it as records so the organization can have material to present to the Ministerio de Cultura for future projects. I travel to different parts of the country to interview people and gather information about their traditions and how we could provide support.

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It is important to point out that on my first week in the organization I was given a series of books and research about the places we would be going to recollect information. I am still flipping the pages and I am grateful to experience with every single part of my senses what I have been reading.

My goal this summer is to acquire a deeper understanding of the afro-Dominicans and Dominico-Haitiana traditions and communities. I want to learn the ways one can provide visibility to these communities and maintain the traditions alive. Furthermore, I want to expand my artistic knowledge and incorporate new elements to my art practice.

  • Daniela Marquez ’17

Looking back on my time at Tip

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At an event for one of our clothing brands!

After an amazing summer of learning and working, I finished my internship at Tip Comunicación. Friday the 21st was my last day, and as I closed the door I felt a combination of pride, sadness, and excitement.

Pride, because I am so happy with all that I have accomplished this summer. I started my internship with the goal of learning more about the world of Public Relations and whether it was the field I wanted to pursue after graduation next year, and that goal was most certainly met. I am leaving Tip knowing that I want to work in communications after college. I am also proud of how far my writing skills have come. I am now more able to put myself in a brand’s shoes and write with their voice rather than my own. I have a much greater understanding of what Public Relations are and how they work.

Sadness, because I am going to miss going there every day. I learned so much from my coworkers and supervisors, and I wish I could continue to learn even more from them. I am so grateful for the time they put towards helping me grow, and it’s always sad leaving places where you’re treated with respect.

Excitement, because I know I will continue to grow within this field and that this experience was only the beginning of a long path. There is so much more for me to learn and I can’t wait to learn it!

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A beautiful Buenos Aires sunset on one of my days off

Anyone who would be interested in an internship at Tip should a) make sure they speak Spanish 100% fluently, and B) reach out to the organization and ask. To those interested in the world of PR in general: put yourselves out there! Tell everyone you know that you are looking to work in PR and would love an internship. You never know who could be able to help you. You should also go online, research the different agencies, and send out your resume to the ones that appeal to you the most. Join LinkedIn and contact Brandeis alumni.

I am now beginning my senior year, and I am very happy that I am able to bring everything I have learned this summer back to school. I know that having seen a little bit of the real world will enrich my classroom experience so much and allow me to make a more seamless transition into post-college life next year because of it.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone at Brandeis and the World of Work program for allowing me to do this internship and get this amazing experience! It is such a helpful and important fellowship, and just another way in which our university is helping us grow and succeed.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

My Final Blog Post

Since completing my internship at AEI, I have had some time to reflect upon my experiences, all I learned, and what my next steps may be. It is surreal to know that my time in DC this summer has come to a close, but I know that I will be back one day. I set out on this adventure to learn all I could, but I had no conception of the breadth of knowledge I would gain—knowledge that is applicable both personally and professionally. I went in with a series of goals, but my primary goal was to learn as much as possible. Therefore, for my final blog post, I’ve highlighted a few of these lessons I have learned. I hope that these lessons may serve as advice to future students planning on interning in this field, and I hope that by recording them, I, too, will remember to live by them.

Lesson 1: See the value in learning outside of your comfort zone.

What I mean by this is simple: When you have the chance to learn something, learn it. It can be totally unrelated to what you want to do, but take the chance and learn for a little while. Ultimately, regardless as to whether or not it ends up being relevant to your career path, it will be another skill in your proverbial tool belt.

For example, one of my co-workers this summer specialized in graphic design, and offered to teach me a few tricks. I accepted skeptically, letting her know that the extent of my knowledge in graphic design was limited to scribbles in Microsoft Paint. A few short weeks later, a vector I designed using Illustrator was featured on AEI’s social media platforms. I was hooked. I even began formatting simple memos in InDesign! Even if I never design another graphic, I am so happy I learned to do something outside of my conventional learning path.

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The Washington Monument

 

Lesson 2: Make your coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

It is all well and good to be the first one in in the morning, and the last one out at night; however, none of that matters unless you are excelling. One of my fellow interns this summer who had just graduated from college left the office almost daily for job interviews. Although he rarely put in a full day of work, I could see from the way his department treated him that he was a well-respected and valued member of their team. This was because during the time he did spend in the office, the work he did was exceptional: He made his coworkers’ jobs’ easier.

 

I decided to incorporate this observation into my daily work pattern. For example, instead of just updating the website’s home page and sending it off to the editor, I would take the time to edit my work so that the editor had less to fix. Even small moments of effort, such as this one, can add up.

I applied this same logic to larger tasks, as well. For instance, I took the lead on creating AEI’s Instagram account. AEI had, for some time, considered creating an Instagram account; however, the process took more time than my co-workers had, and it required research to develop a solid marketing strategy. I offered to take on the project and within the month our Instagram account was up and running. In doing so, I was able to alleviate a good deal of stress within the department while AEI settled into the new platform.

Lesson 3: Figure out how to do the things that scare you.

This is not just a re-wording of the classic advice “take risks.” To me, figuring out how to do the things that scare you means to make what is scary into something manageable. Flip it around and do what you have to do.

For example, something I am not entirely comfortable with is DC networking events. The awkwardness of mingling is something that I feel will never leave me. I found myself faced with the necessity of figuring out how to make these events manageable. I realized I was most comfortable when I studied up on a ‘default topic’ for the night. This meant that I always had a topic of conversation to fall back upon when I was at a cringe-worthy loss for words (which was often). Usually my ‘default topic’ was some aspect of the host organization or perhaps a Supreme Court case; regardless, it worked like a charm every time.

All you really need to make something scary into something manageable is an understanding of what makes you feel more secure. Sometimes, this can even make the terrifying a little—dare I say it—fun!

 

These three tips represent my best practices and experiences from the summer.  Each of these lessons allowed me to do my best work, from creating an Instagram account to snagging the right business card. As long as I remember to learn outside of my comfort zone, make my coworkers’ jobs’ easier, and figure out how to do what scares me, I think I’ll be fine. I am proud of what I accomplished at AEI in terms of professional development, I am already looking forward to next summer!

 

Margot Grubert ’17

 

 

Summer has ended, but my work at he AGO has just begun!

Although the summer is ending, my internship is not! After the amazing experience I’ve had these last few weeks, I’m grateful, humbled and excited to be able to say that it is not yet over; I will be continuing my internship for the rest of this semester in conjunction with a Brandeis internship seminar.

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It seems it is not yet time to part with my intern badge!

While there is plenty to look forward to, it is crucial (not to mention enjoyable) to retrospectively analyze the crucial changes I have undergone by taking on the challenges that have accompanied this internship. These challenges, ranging from getting a taste of what it is like to be alone and away from home to forcing myself to gather my confidence and approach the inspiring lecturer who, within an hour, changed my outlook on my future career and built my character in a way I could not have foreseen. Looking back at my summer experience at the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I find myself to be an adult, a proud servant of the Commonwealth, and a fervent advocate of self-exploration via internships.

From among the main goals I outlined for myself at the beginning of my internship, I have truly surpassed the most important ones. I originally aspired to “mold myself into a meritorious and ‘civic-ly’ aware adult.” I could not have imagined the extent to which my dedication to civic engagement would solidify during my time in the AGO, but here I stand, a matured version of the person I was at the end of the school year, convinced that my career path would feel empty without some sort of community service which would allow me to benefit the society to which I belong. I hoped to “forge new connections,” and I am now fortunate enough to include a group of talented interns, law students, paralegals, lawyers, officers and financial investigators in my ever-growing network. I realized through my exploration of “the intricacies of my passion for law” that I am most interested in civil rights and anti-discrimination efforts within the context of the law and I know that the next steps I take towards my future will involve the study and promotion of diversification and acceptance. With all of these goals realized, I look forward to expanding my knowledge of myself and the legal world as I return to the office this semester and as I take on future internships.

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A pleasant intern lunch organized by a charismatic and involved lawyer at the Criminal Bureau (I’m the third person from the right!). I’m lucky enough to have these future lawyers in my career network.

https://www.ted.com/talks/verna_myers_how_to_overcome_our_biases_walk_boldly_toward_them?language=en – The AGO organized an event during which dozens of office members watched Vernā Myers’ inspirational TED talk about overcoming subconscious biases and then discussed the video to deepen our understanding of how it applies to us.

I am most proud of my work combating  human trafficking and my new interest in this field, which evolved from my involvement in the Human Trafficking Unit. My extensive involvement in the unit’s developing policy-implementation plan, which spanned almost the entirety of this internship, started with a request that I create a simple excel document and developed into an enriching and layered experience in the art of networking. The creation of the spreadsheet was an opportunity for me to aid the AGO’s Director of Human Trafficking Policy, Programs, and Education, who specialized in a field which I was eager to explore. My scrupulous efforts, paired with a genuine interest in the unique and kind woman I was helping, resulted in a rewarding networking connection which I now cherish. This woman mentored me by taking me to observe meetings with outside organizations, looking out for different events I could attend, and even asking me for input on how to move forward with the implementation of the policy I helped to create. I am both proud of and thankful for the working relationship I now have with her, and I look forward to collaborating with her in the coming months.

http://www.polarisproject.org – A wonderful anti-human trafficking organization which shares many of the same goals of the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division

http://www.polarisproject.org/storage/documents/hotelindustryfactsheet.pdf – a trusty reference sheet for the AGO’s Human Trafficking Division in its effort to increase human trafficking awareness in the Commonwealth

Thus, my advice to students interested in working in this office is to take this opportunity by the reins and make the most of the resources around them, be it the esteem of others, the unique events and presentations, the work experience, or just the boundless advice of the good, hardworking people of the AGO. In any internship context, including this one, my greatest piece of advice is to balance challenging oneself by stepping outside of one’s comfort zone with being conscious of oneself in one’s work-environment context. Branch out, but don’t seem too haughty; be confident but don’t forget the value of humility. While it is important to be sure of one’s merit, there is no disadvantage to asking and asking again to gain a complete understanding from those who have been doing this way longer than any intern. Remember that being memorable (in a good way) also requires being personable and receptive. This balance has helped me grow from this amazing opportunity in ways which, only three months ago, I did not believe to be possible. Though I am still perfecting this equilibrium and will continue fine-tuning it this semester in this familiar context, it has been my greatest ally and will continue to be in future classroom, recreational, and professional experiences.

Lilly Hecht ’18

At the End of My Internship at GMRI

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GMRI, waterfront view

I am now done with my internship at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and it is an entirely melancholy feeling. It was hard to leave a place that I had spent 40 hours a week at and even more time out of work thinking about. In looking backed, I feel extraordinarily privileged to have had this amazing experience and a great deal of that thanks and appreciation goes to the WOW grant program at the Hiatt Career Center. This experience certainly would have not been possible without them.

Over the course of my 9 weeks at GMRI, I do believe I met my learning goals I outlined months ago as I wrote my application. I learned a great deal about how to use the economic analysis techniques that I was taught in my economics courses at Brandeis to analyze real world data… I even picked up some new skills and programming techniques along the way thanks to the dedication of my supervisor. This internship also gave me the opportunity to experience what working as an environmental1Lobster-boat-with-traps research economist is really like. Throughout the summer, I also became better, little by little, at networking and putting myself out there.

Most importantly, this internship taught be more about myself than I think any course at college could because not only did it clarify for me what my academic interests are but it also taught me what kind of work I want to pursue in my post-Brandeis life. I still want to pursue a career in environmental economics, in Maine ideally, and I know now more than every that in order to be heard and listened to and respected, one must have a graduate degree. But I also learned I cannot be inside all of the time, even doing the things that I like. I need fieldwork; I need some time outside with the things and places I am trying to protect and help in order to maintain a real connection to what I am working on. It is easy to forget the big picture when you spend your days looking at computer screens.

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Students participating in Lab Venture

For future Brandeis students I would certainly recommend checking out the internship opportunities offered annually at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. They not only offer positions in economics, but also in biology and community oriented positions. The people who work there are extremely talented and passionate about what they do. That truly is also the key to securing an internship at GMRI and at other research oriented institutions. Undergraduates tend to not have the research or resume experience that older candidates do, but if you are passionate about the work you want to do, undoubtedly you will find a way to do it.

To close, I must say again what a privilege it was to work at GMRI. I’ve come a long way since I was a 5th grader visiting as part of their educational Lab Venture Program. This summer I was able o help out with lobster and climate research that could have huge economic and environmental implications for my home state, and I am so proud to have helped out, at least in a small way.

  • Rebecca Mitchell ’16

Midpoint Reflections–Writopia Lab, NYC

I write this in front of a large arched window in the New York Public Library (NYPL), St. Agnes branch, looking down at Amsterdam Ave. Until I arrived in NYC close to nine weeks ago, my connection to the NYPL didn’t go past watching PBS’s “Between the Lions” as a child; my primary understanding of streets and avenues came only from short trips into the city where I relied on others to take charge of navigating.

Nine weeks later, I can now walk alone from the 79th Street subway stop to work each day, coffee in hand, feeling the directions intuitively. I also have a New York library card to fuel my subway reading, and travel once a week to an NYPL in the Bronx to help lead free Writopia workshops for kids and teens. Each week, more areas of this enormous city become familiar as I visit them more frequently and form personal connections with them.

Though I still make mistakes with subway transfers and muddle what it means to be Queens-bound or Bronx-bound, express or local (and where is this mythical Van Cortlandt Park, anyways?), I now solve transportation problems fairly quickly, knowing how to navigate the basics of different lines and their connection points. I also have official lunch break traditions on constant rotation–I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the park bench outside of Central Park on 81st and Columbus, paperback book in my lap. Or, I’ll get a ham and cheese croissant and sit at the communal table in Zabar’s, surrounded by elderly ladies. If I’m in a rush, I’ll go for the “P.S. 85” turkey sandwich at the Parisian Deli on Columbus, with a bag of blue Doritos.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but I suddenly find myself at home here, settled into the routine of 9-5 work.

It’s a strange new feeling, being a 19-year old in the “world of work,” yet many of the basic emotions I feel here are similar to how I often feel in college. For starters, I constantly feel some mixture of inspiration and sleepiness, and being in a workshop setting each day requires critical thinking and attentiveness just as classes do. One difference I really appreciate, though, is how much I feel I am directly benefiting the lives of others. Though I of course have ample opportunity at Brandeis to volunteer or give back to the community through my extracurriculars and on-campus job, the basic reasoning behind college is typically to further one’s own life: a student takes classes in order to complete a major, in order to then get a job that ideally helps the student feel fulfilled. Even if that dream job is related to helping others, the student has to get to that point by working hard and focusing on their own studies and goals.

Working at Writopia this summer, one of my goals was to take a break from this college mentality and immerse myself in making a difference in the lives of the children I worked with. What I did not predict is how much of a difference they’ve made in my life, too.

Teaching Writopians in a graphic noveling class
Teaching young Writopians in a graphic noveling class

I came into this internship as an English and Creative Writing double major, with an interest in teaching but more of a passion for generating my own work. Writing has always been a creative outlet that allows me to put elements of my life in perspective, while providing a temporary escape from it. Writing helps me understand myself when I feel my mind is running in an unmanageable number of directions, and is always what I turn to in times of unhappiness.

After many weeks at Writopia, focusing entirely on the work of others, I’ve begun to rethink the role of writing and creativity in my own life. Though I still feel strongly about how much I love it, I realize now that if (realistic thoughts aside) I were to somehow manage to be just a writer for a living, it would not be enough. It is too amazing to help facilitate this process for children and teens–many of whom are experiencing the benefits of creative writing for the very first time–to not continue teaching and inspiring.

The responsibility of helping Writopians express themselves through writing and graphic noveling is something I take seriously, because I know the emotional vulnerability that a child can put into a creative piece, and how beneficial that process can be for their emotional growth and confidence. I want to help them feel safe expressing whatever they want to through their work, and proud of themselves for doing so. My internship at Writopia has not only helped me learn the NYC subway system, explore various NYPL’s, or discover places to get sandwiches–it has taught me that the act of helping another person create a piece of writing or art is just as powerful as, and often more fulfilling than, the act of creating itself.

Through the many lonely, sleepy, and even depressed moments I’ve had this summer living on my own in an often stressful city environment, it is not my own writing that got me through, but working with the campers at Writopia. When I read their amazing writing pieces, laugh with them on a picnic blanket in Central Park, or help them illustrate their imaginative and often downright weird ideas in a graphic novel, I gain inspiration and strength through their fearless, boundless creativity, their insightful comments in workshop, and their discovery of writing and art as a means of self-expression. It is indescribably rewarding to help young people reach their creative goals, big or small, and I find there is beauty and truth to each Writopian’s piece, whether it be about a talking toilet or the death of a sibling. I know now that working with and empowering the next generation of artists and writers is something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life–it allows me to feel like a mature member of the “world of work,” but with a sense of humor and emotional awareness that only a young writer can inspire.

Presenting the graphic noveling pieces at the weekly Writopia showcase
Presenting the graphic noveling pieces at the weekly Writopia showcase

ERG: A Reflection

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Three months ago, I began my internship at Eastern Research Group, an environmental consulting company in Lexington, MA.  During my time at ERG, I gained an inside look into environmental consulting work and explored a range of different projects. When I left, I left with a greater understanding of the work, feeling more comfortable being in a professional setting, and having a stronger sense of what role I hope to fill in the future.

I initially came at ERG to learn about the breadth of environmental consulting work, the collaborations between different sectors on large-scale environmental projects, and to see it all in action. I wanted to learn about the various applications, scientific and technological, being used in current environmental initiatives. As an intern, I worked on projects ranging from developing marketing flyers to researching social science. To my surprise, I frequently found myself working in Excel for different purposes. My supervisors also gave me the opportunity to explore a similar program, Access, as well. I learned more about these programs’ various uses and applications – from organizational to mathematical – in this field.

I have always envisioned pursuing a career working towards a more sustainable future, and that has not changed at all. After seeing the different recent and ongoing environmental services and projects at ERG, I feel optimistic and energized about working in this industry. This experience has given me more motivation to attend graduate school as well. When it comes to the nuances of workplace preferences, my experience at ERG reinforced that I enjoy a degree of variability in the workplace and working on a continuum of changing, project-based tasks.  As I mentioned previously, this experience also piqued my interest in learning more about Excel and Access applications, so this is something I plan to explore further.

I highly recommend this type of internship to students who are interested in working in climate change issues and who are studying social science or STEM fields who want hands-on experience with applications in ongoing environmental conservation and climate change adaptation efforts. At ERG, there are engineers, social scientists, economists and many more, collaborating on projects. You will witness the importance of teamwork dynamics as well as the unconventional project-based format of environmental consulting. As I was telling my supervisors, it’s certainly not your 9-to-5 job! You’ll learn about the capabilities and technologies we have to address climate change issues, and you will brush up on the environmental jargon that you don’t learn from taking classes. For students interested in environmental consulting, I recommend exploring the services that ERG offers to get an idea of what roles exist that you can see yourself filling, taking social science or STEM-related courses to lay a groundwork for the type of work you may be exposed to, gaining research experience, and possibly pursuing a post-graduate degree as well.

I am fortunate to have had this fulfilling learning experience at ERG, which I owe to the support of my wonderful ERG supervisors, the WOW program and Hiatt staff. This summer, I am proud of being able to work independently, to approach unfamiliar tasks, and to know to be proactive about asking questions and reaching out for assistance when necessary. I am happy that my work supported a company that supports climate change efforts for a better future. I really appreciated learning about how government, nonprofit and private sectors as well as communities can communicate and work on environmental projects. To me it shows just how wide and interdisciplinary the cause is and that there are so many ways to be a part of it.

An example of a recent project at ERG: ERG supported the EPA in developing their Report on the Environment (ROE) website.

Dora Chi, 16

Finishing up the Summer at the Benson-Henry Institute

This summer, US News ranked Mass General Hospital #1 Hospital in the world. The Psychiatry Department on its own was also ranked #1.

It is hard to believe that my time at the Benson-Henry Institute is coming to a close. It is has been an absolutely incredible summer and I have learned so much in my time at the BHI that it’s hard to put it all into words. I’ll start with the easier part. Working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Mass General Hospital this summer has taught me a lot about research. From IRB requirements to spreadsheets to “Note to Files” to the proper way you have to sign any mistakes you make on official documents (one strike through, sign, date!), it has been so exciting to learn about the process of accumulating data, keeping track of it, and learning from it. Similarly, I gained a lot of experience in the clinical world this summer which was an initial and now superseded goal of my internship at the BHI. Though we are a research institution, we also serve as a clinical research institution which means that I interacted with a lot of patients and participants this summer. I met study participants at the Clinical Research Center on the main hospital campus for their appointments and gave them surveys to fill out for our studies related to their stress levels. One of my favorite patient-interaction opportunities was making phone calls for our multiple myeloma study, where I interacted with doctors (who told me if a patient was eligible based on our particular biological criteria), patients, and even some patient family members as I recruited for our study on how the relaxation response can affect those who have a precursor for multiple myeloma (MGUS or SMM).

The two examples listed above are the easy ways to tangibly express how much I took away from my summer at the hospital. However, one other factor that is slightly harder to put into words is the mentorship I received this summer. I am so thankful for all three of the clinical research coordinators (one of them a Brandeis alum!) who trained me this summer not only on the work and studies we were focusing on, but also on a personal level. They gave me incredible advice and wisdom regarding how to join the field of clinical psychology. At the beginning of the summer, I was convinced that after I graduated this May I would immediately start a clinical psychology PhD program. I still want to do that, but I think now that I am much more open to other opportunities as well. Maybe I’ll look for a psychology fellowship to really hone my research interests and skills. Perhaps I’ll take what I learned about stress management here and go abroad for a while to see how mind-body medicine fits into different cultures. Maybe I’ll look for a clinical research coordinator position right here in Boston where I can continue learning before I take the leap and dive in graduate school. Regardless of where I choose to go, I feel much more confident (and less stressed!) about my future as I delve into this field and I could not have done that without the incredible mentorship of the clinical research coordinators at the BHI.

Luckily for me, I’ll be continuing at the Benson-Henry Institute for the school year and I can’t wait to see what more I can learn.

Happy August!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

This is me and my roommate (an intern at Fenway Health) on our last day of work.
This is me and my roommate (an intern at Fenway Health) on our last day of work.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, At My Midpoint

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Fisheries Humor

In working here at GMRI, I can’t help but admire how much people care about the work that they do here and how much they believe in what they are doing, despite the countless obstacles. And there are many. I mentioned in a previous post about the difficulty of finding good data that is both accessible and trustworthy. I’ve also come to recognize how difficult the work done here is. As a non-profit research and education orientated institute, an unbelievable amount of time has to be dedicated to fundraising to support the work being done here. It can be exhausting constantly applying for grants and seeking out charitable donations, but as the people and their results prove every day, it’s completely worth it.

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Friendly cricket match at the GMRI summer BBQ

(On a side note, check out the trailer for a new documentary highlighting the struggles in today’s fishing industry.untitled

At any rate, my general attitude towards the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the people, and my internship this summer is a combination of awe, admiration, and appreciation. The work that is done from the community side of the organization, promoting and encouraging sustainably harvested seafood, to the research and education side, is all incredibly important. There are over 10 interns this summer, sprinkled throughout the three major departments and despite our large number, the staff here has made it a point to get to know each one of us at special welcome events, meetings, and at GMRI’s annual summer BBQ. I could not be more grateful for such a supportive and friendly work environment and I could also not be more grateful for my fellow interns, especially the economics interns. Not only am I learning a lot from my supervisor, but I am learning a lot from them as well. I’m also so inspired by the passionate people here who have made it their life’s work to support, protect, and educate people about the Gulf of Maine and its invaluable resources. Here is a link to a recent interview conducted by the local NBC affiliate at GMRI. When the local station decided they want to do a piece on the effects of climate change, they immediately contacted us, showcasing what a leader GMRI is in the state of Maine.

This internship opportunity afforded to me by the WOW program has definitely differed from my academic coursework. In typical classes, the syllabus is set, you know the direction that you are going, and in general, you work alone. My work here at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has been very collaborative and taken me in many new and surprising directions. Research has a way of doing that.

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Portland, Maine’s working waterfront

Without a doubt, I am learning a lot from this internship specific to the mechanics of how you analyze datasets, the types of software environmental economists’ use, and how to present your information to make a clear case or recommendation, but I am also learning much more. I’m learning how to network, and I’m becoming I’m learning to become proficient in a much more collaborative group setting where I am not just working with and relying on my fellow economists, but also the expertise of biologists and oceanographers and software engineers. That collaborative skill set is transferable anywhere, back at Brandeis, and to one year from now when I will no longer be a student but an alumni, finding my first job in the ‘real’ world. But most importantly, I am learning what I want to do, and what I want to do is this, environmental economics.

– Rebecca Mitchell ’16

 

Small Army Midseason Review

 

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As I looked at the calendar this week, I was surprised to realize that I had reached the halfway point of my internship at Small Army and Small Army For A Cause.  Just like every summer, the weeks have flown by. In the whirlwind of time speeding by, I realize just how far I’ve come—I’ve learned so many new things, met so many new people, and made so many memories along the way—and it’s only the halfway point! With that, I’m going to share how my time as Small Army and Small Army For A Cause has progressed and all of the experiences I’ve had along the way.

Experiences

Small Army does a great job of bringing interns into the mix with our clients. I’ve learned more than I could have imagined working on the different teams assigned to each client.  Performing research for our client Zillion and their platform Zillion Health really opened my eyes to the telehealth industry.  With this breakthrough cloud technology, our era will see a convergence of online cloud platforms that enable us move from the reactive health care system that we all know so well and transition to a much more preventative health care system that helps to keep us healthy each and every day.

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Another client I’ve had the opportunity to become acquainted with is SolidWorks. Based out of our very own city of Waltham, SolidWorks is a 3D “solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) software program” It allows “engineers, designers, and other technology professionals…to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life” (Company Info SOLIDWORKS). Their software allows businesses like Astrobotic, a company that “flies hardware systems into space for companies, governments, and universities,” to make space exploration a norm across the globe. Astrobotic plans to make our generation the first to live on the moon. Through SolidWorks’ 3D modeling program, Astrobotic is able able to streamline the process in which it designs and simulates their lunar modules to the point where SolidWorks’ simulations will make it affordable for more people than ever to fly to the moon and beyond (About Astrobotic).

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(Screenshot showing the 3D CAD capabilities offered by SolidWorks via http://3dprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/solidworks-prosthetic-gks-1.jpg)
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(Rendering of the Astrobotic Lunar Polar Prospector Rover Design via http://www.parabolicarc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/polaris_astrobotic.jpg)

While all of these experiences have been eye-opening, the best experience I’ve had thus far at Small Army was being a part of the commercial shoot team for Mass Eye and Ear which took place at the beautiful Artists for Humanity building in Boston. This would normally be a fantastic event for anyone interested in advertising and film, but it was even more fantastic for me as it allowed my world to come full circle. When I was a child at the age of 3, doctors at Mass Eye and Ear performed surgery to remove a rare benign tumor known as a congenital cholesteatoma from my left eardrum.  Not only did the surgery save my ability to hear, but it saved my life as early detection caught the tumor before it could spread. Now 19 years later, I find myself on a team that helped Mass Eye and Ear produce a commercial.

 

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(Inside the set at the Artists for Humanity building for the Mass Eye and Ear commercial shoot)

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(Another set at the Artists for Humanity building for the Mass Eye and Ear commercial shoot)

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(Photo of the camera used for the commercial shoot)
Lastly, since joining Small Army, the main account I have worked on is Small Army For A Cause’s Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer foundation. A lot has happened since we last spoke as we are now in the final stages of planning the event in order to make it an even bigger success this year. We have been working on all types of event planning and coordination projects including developing this year’s Google Adwords advertisements, developing event apparel and other promotional items, collaborating with our PR team Ring Communications to improve our social media presence along with our brand recognition, working with a company called Mavrck to develop a reward community for our participants, using the MailChimp email platform to send emails to our associates, and many more. Within the next week, the planning and coordination should be almost complete and we will transition into the peak stages of the fundraiser as participants start to order bald caps and apparel, set up their teams, and begin to raise funds.

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Looking Forward

I am looking forward to my last month working for Small Army and Small Army For A Cause. It will be exciting to see how the next few weeks unfold.

Works Cited

“About Astrobotic.” About. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jul. 2015.

“Company Info SOLIDWORKS.” Company Info SOLIDWORKS. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jul. 2015.

The midway point

Now that I have completed half of my internship at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), I have a lot to reflect upon. From the lessons I’ve learned to the friends I’ve made, I know that I have already gained so much from this experience. I can’t believe it’s almost coming to an end!

The doors to AEI's building.
The doors to AEI’s building.

When I first came to DC I was scared. The city was so huge and overwhelming, and I knew next to no one. Unlike when I began Brandeis, no one was here to show me the way. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore and even to play tour guide to others. When my family visited me, they were impressed with my knowledge of this city, which at first glance on a map looks like a maze. I have my favorite restaurants and boutiques, and the places where I love to stroll (like Rock Creek Park: http://www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm). I know the shortcuts and the scenic routes. At school, my life revolves around happenings on campus, and my focus seems far narrower; however, living in the middle of the city has allowed me the opportunity to get to know Washington far more intimately. Now, this place feels like my home.

Working at AEI has also become less overwhelming. The interns have really bonded and I’ve made friends that I hope to keep in touch with when we all leave this town. My co-workers are also less intimidating, perhaps as a result of our shared experience of waiting in the lunch line each day. AEI is known for its stellar kitchen, and everyone, including interns, guests, and staff, lines up at noon to wait for the amazing food. As a result, the person in front of you striking up a casual conversation may turn out to be an AEI fellow or even a Senator. After finding myself in that position a number of times, I’m ready for anything. I’ve learned that sometimes even a quick chat can be the foundation of a professional relationship, which may be solidified over coffee or a later meeting. The opportunity to interact with these individuals has been a highlight of my summer experience.

One amazing thing about working at AEI is each department’s willingness to help provide the experience interns are looking for. In addition to mastering my ongoing and day-to-day tasks managing various digital platforms, I wanted to learn more hard skills this summer for personal and professional development. After mentioning this goal to the digital strategy team, one of my co-workers took it upon herself to schedule weekly training sessions with me. So far, she has taught me how to use design tools such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. I feel as though I now have a good handle on each of these products. I even designed a vector that AEI is using to promote Arthur Brooks’ new book The Conservative Heart. (See more here from AEI’s Instagram account: https://instagram.com/aei/).

 

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A vector I designed for AEI.

Overall, I am immensely enjoying my summer here in DC and at AEI. I know that I am learning valuable skills, meeting important people, and really taking advantage of my opportunities here. I know that none of this would have been possible if not for the WOW Scholarship, and I think about my gratitude for this program every single day. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer brings!

 

Margot Grubert, ’17

One month into research

I can’t believe it’s already been one month working at the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital! One of the best parts about this internship is how comprehensive it is in terms of the tasks I get to work on at the Institute and the hospital. At Benson-Henry, we work on tons of different projects and studies all at the same time. Most of our studies center around the body’s reception of the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Right now, we’re working on a study that examines various manifestations of the relaxation response (i.e. meditation or yoga) in healthy individuals who are chronically stressed, a study that tracks the same response in individuals who have a certain susceptibility gene for multiple myeloma, and a study that explores how the relaxation response can affect resident students in medical school. And those are just a few of the projects I am working on! In comparison to some of the research I do at Brandeis and in the classroom, at the BHI I really get to follow experiments all the way through and see all of their different parts come together. Because we’re working on so many projects at once, each project is usually in a different place than the one next to it. That is to say, some studies are in their beginning phases in terms of recruitment, some are in full swing in terms of data collection, others are pushing through data entry, and still others are being analyzed.

One of the best parts about this internship is that I get to combine and manipulate much of what I have learned in my psychology classes at Brandeis in science. For instance, for the chronic stress study, one of the biomedical measures we are collecting is cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in stress in the body, a hormone I have learned about in multiple classes. It’s really interesting to combine what I learned about cortisol in my Biological Basis of Motivation neuroscience class with what I learned about cortisol in my Adolescent psychology class to really see cortisol in action. Similarly, I just started a literature review for the Institute on a new research topic we are starting that will focus on stress and eating disorders. After taking Research Methods and reading multiple research articles, I am thrilled that I can incorporate those classroom lessons in practical psychology in the real world. I am especially enjoying working with the research coordinators at the BHI because they all have such different and unique research interests and have already proven to be great resources for me as I delve into the world of research and clinical psychology.

Below is a video of Dr. Herbert Benson explaining the benefits of the Mind Body Medicine.

The BHI also holds many classes for multiple populations with various focuses. Below is a video compiled by Mass General about stress, teenagers, and the relaxation response.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=w12H_U7IXvw

 

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Back to the books!

Ellie Rosenthal ’16

ERG: Midpoint

By now I’ve grown comfortable in my adopted corner office with the four pet plants and the picturesque views. After interning at Eastern Research Group for more than a month, I feel more integrated with the work and the people. Since the previous blog post, I’ve helped conduct social science research, built spreadsheets and continued to shadow environmental consulting work. I’ve become more adjusted to the work schedule and grown better about inter-office communication.

I think that, after being in school for so long, it’s easy to forget about the non-stop nature of the world outside the “bubble”. That’s why I believe doing internships is so important; not only is it about gaining insight into the world of work, but it’s about recognizing and preparing for other aspects of the world as well.

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Monthly meeting in Boston – a presentation on renewable energy options

Recently, while at ERG, it occurred to me just how “abnormal” and condensed the academic year is. Since I’ve lived by the academic year for the past 15 years, it’s not easy to imagine what a full calendar year of work really entails mentally and physically, but it’s something I will learn to adjust to when the time comes.

Another comparison I would make is: academic work is more structured and comes in cyclical waves, but being at ERG has shown me that, often times, work can happen on a less predictable and rigid schedule. I’ve seen how work doesn’t necessarily stop after completing a project or leaving the office for the day.

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Notes and visitor cards from the monthly meeting

 

At ERG, I’m learning to become a better communicator. I’m learning to think deeper about the purpose behind my tasks and to not be shy about asking questions and contributing ideas. As a student, I’m admittedly more accustomed to independent projects and assignments, but at ERG I am adjusting my mindset to be more teamwork-oriented.  It feels good to know that my work here ultimately contributes to larger projects and therefore impacts my colleagues and the company. While the pressure is greater, I enjoy not having to worry about achieving a certain letter grade, but rather something that feels more significant and meaningful.

I am also realizing both the limitations of academic applications in the world of work as well as the intersections of skills and knowledge between the world of work and school. For example, it felt rewarding to use my research paper reading experiences from Political Psychology class to conduct social science research for ERG, just as it did when I could understand some of the data I’m working with thanks to a foundation of knowledge built in my Conservation Biology class.

Interning here confirms there are many aspects to the world of work missing from the familiar grind of academic life, and that there are many aspects to environmental consulting that one can only learn or learn best from the job itself. My observations and experiences at ERG have reinforced to me why interning is so critical, and why the WOW program is so valuable to us. As I begin my senior year next month (eep!), I am confident that what I’ve learned here will inform and ease my transition from my work-hard-play-hard student life to my independent, professional life.

Dora Chi, ’16

Halfway through my internship at Tip Comunicación

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“Floralis Genérica” is only a couple of blocks away from Tip. It opens when the sun comes out, and closes when it sets

It has now been a little over a month since I started working at Tip Comunicación, a small PR agency in Buenos Aires. I have had such a good time so far, and I am excited to share a little about my experience with you. This past month has been an amazing learning experience.

First, I assisted at a fashion show for Sweet Victorian, Argentina’s leading swimwear and underwear brand, for the launch of their swimsuit collection. It was so fun! I got to greet some amazing journalists at the door and guide them towards where the other press representatives where gathered, help my boss and coworkers throughout the event, and also watch the show alongside a few Argentinian celebrities.

I also have had the opportunity to ghost-write a few articles to promote our brands and write more press releases. My writing skills have gotten a lot better this past month! I know this will help me so much after college, when I hope to be working full time either in PR or advertising. Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of this past month has been preparing product kits to send out to journalists. We have a new client at Tip called Successo. They produce alfajores: traditional Argentinian candy that consists of two cookies put together by dulce de leche (milk caramel) and usually covered in chocolate. Successo also makes cookies and other types of candy, but alfajores are their specialty. I had to make 93 packages, so by the time I was done I had seen more alfajores than I ever need to, but it was actually quite a relaxing experience. I have been working on my organization skills through this task, which I know will be very useful after my work at Tip is over. Whether I end up in advertising or PR, I will most certainly need to be organized.

Writing for brands has also helped me get out of my “writing comfort zone” and speak in a way that represents the brand I’m trying to promote rather than myself. I know that if I’m writing for an educational institution I must use a somewhat friendly yet mostly serious tone, while if I’m writing for a teen swimwear company I have to take on a younger, bubblier personality. Different vocabulary is also used for the different brands and it is very important to always keep that in mind. Writing a press release or an article in the name of a certain brand is very different from writing my own blog, or posting something on my social media accounts. This internship has provided me with the tools to identify each brand’s personality, target, and “dialect.” My boss is very strict about this and it has made me very aware of the use of each word.

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Just a few of the many, many Successo packages I put together

Being at work is so different from being at school for many reasons. First, there are no grades involved, which means my goals are only to learn as much as possible and to meet my boss’ expectations. Second, there’s a lot more “figuring out” to do on my own. I am told what needs to get done and a few tips on how to do it. I’m always allowed –and expected– to ask questions and get help when necessary, but I am also expected to get things done as well and fast as possible, which sometimes means I have to make my own decisions. I am so lucky to have an amazing boss that gives me the space and tools to work things out on my own and make some mistakes that will help me learn. Of course, she is always there to step in and save the day in case I actually do something wrong, but so far it’s been working out just fine!

Overall it’s been a really exciting month. I’m so glad I have this opportunity this summer and I’m excited for the rest of my internship.

Mijal Tenenbaum, ’16

Midpoint Entry – New Experiences and Development at the MA AGO

 

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My 19th-floor view of the Commonwealth I am serving, including the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House

At the beginning of my internship in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, I could not have imagined the extent to which I could be enriched within so little time. Despite the challenges that my novel experience of independence presents, such as budget management, humbling homesickness, and an increased sense of responsibility, these perceived difficulties are only augmenting the growth I am undergoing and I am thankful for this opportunity to learn how to overcome them. My initial apprehension has turned into a sense of pride as the weeks progress and as I am increasingly exposed to valuable information about workplace environments, networking, independence, justice, policy making, career development, the law, and myself.

The numerous projects which I have been assigned so far range from contributing to the office’s implementation game-plan concerning human trafficking policy (my favorite assignment so far) to scanning boxes of grand jury exhibits. I cannot truthfully say that they have all been as fabulous as those depicted in an episode of Law and Order; still, each of them is crucial to the process and fulfilling to complete. The kind and capable troopers, lawyers, paralegals, investigators, etc. who have assigned them to me make sure to explain how my work contributes to the bigger picture and to the eventual execution of justice, which gives me a greater appreciation for my role in the legal process. I do not shirk the seemingly menial jobs, because thorough completion of such tasks is important to the execution of law and also facilitates access to more fascinating projects such as checking bankruptcy dockets for patterns of criminal behavior or reading up on habeas corpus appeals in order to summarize them for the lawyers on the case.

My own little cubicle
My own little cubicle

 

In addition to the projects and cases in which I am involved, I am also exposed to unique opportunities for growth and enrichment due to the excellent programs set up for the office’s interns. Ranging from meet-and-greets to mock trials, these events allow the interns to network and to be exposed to the greater structure and goals of Attorney General (AG) Maura Healey’s office. With every event, I sense my networking skills expanding and my dedication to this line of work solidifying, and I know these social skills and passions will weave their way through my interactions with others and through career-defining decisions from this point forward. Already, I am making connections with interns and lawyers from both the criminal bureau and other bureaus in order to acquire some insight about their jobs and the steps they’ve taken to pursue their careers. I now have a better understanding of my options and preferences concerning things like law school (which, as of now, is a definite part of my future) and additional internship possibilities. The exposure I have had to some of AG Healey’s truly inspirational workforce has enlightened me about the configuration and function of the office I am serving as well as about what I would love to explore further, such as civil rights/anti-discrimination work, victim services, and executive work for Attorney Generals like Maura Healey.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/executive/ – I was inspired by the bureau presentations set up for the interns and was especially enriched by the Executive Bureau’s presentation.

Thus, beyond my wildest expectations, I have come to know myself and the world of work I have entered better than I could have expected within just a few weeks. Although I am mostly proud of my work with the Human Trafficking Division, which encompasses my newly developed women’s and gender, civil rights and victim-aid interests the most, I am proud of even my smallest contributions, because serving this Attorney General, this bureau, and this Commonwealth gives me a sense of fulfillment I have never felt before. I eagerly look forward to my last few weeks here.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/hr/transgender-rights-policy.pdf – Maura Healey’s newly introduced transgender rights policy (one of the many testaments to her greatness as a civil rights leader)

 

Lilly Hecht, ’18

My first week at Tip!

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Meli from the production department working by my side

Tomorrow will be the first day of my second week as a Public Relations Intern at Tip Comunicación, a small PR consulting agency in my hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tip was originally focused on lifestyle brands, but has grown to be so much more. Among other things, we work with clothing stores, sports brands, and an international education company. I was very excited about this position, but I had no idea how fun, fast-paced, and hands-on it would actually be. It seems like this “summer” (it’s winter down here in the southern hemisphere) is going to be a really fun one!

My goal for this summer is to learn more about the world of public relations. I’m looking forward to working within the field after graduation, so it’s very important for me to know what I’ll be dealing with. Moreover, I find it really important to come home and work in my city this summer, as I’m getting closer to graduation in 2016 and I need to make the decision to either come back and live here or permanently move to the US after Brandeis.

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Picture I took on my way to work on Friday, about two blocks awa from the office. It was a foggy day!

The office is located in Recoleta, a beautiful neighborhood of our city that also happens to be really close to my house. I walk to work every day and it’s always gorgeous. Even though it’s late fall, the weather’s been amazing (around 20C/68F everyday). The city looks great this time of the year and it’s been great to be able to catch up with my friends and family while also working at such a cool office.

Everyone at the office is so nice and fun to be around, and the jobs we do are extremely interesting. Because it’s such a small company (only five other people work there), I’ve been already gotten the opportunity to write articles and press releases for a few accounts, and I’ve also been doing tons of media research to find journalists and media reps to promote our brands. I’m working as an assistant within the press department, so I get to do a lot of writing and networking with people in the media to help with the positioning of our accounts . While the office is very relaxed, the fact that it’s small means that I’m constantly being supervised, so I’m  working very hard and learning a lot. My boss is super nice but also very tough, which is great because it helps me to improve.

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Chloe, my furriest coworker

In a few weeks, I will be working at a fashion show/summer collection launch for one of the best known swimsuits/underwear brands in the country. There will be so many great journalists, celebrities, and (according to my boss) TONS of amazing food. I will be welcoming the press representatives right before the show, and talking to them later to promote the brand and network while we all enjoy the good food. It’s nice getting to do so many different things and to see what everyone else is doing, which would be a lot harder in a big agency. I’ve only been there a week, and I already feel like I’ve learned so much about the business. I can already tell this will be a really good, enriching experience that will help me in my future career.

Another cool thing about the office is Chloe! She’s a super cute (and super quiet) dog that belongs to one of the agency’s associate directors. It’s easy to forget she’s around sometimes — until you start eating and she starts following you around to get a bite.

Overall I’m extremely happy at Tip and I’m excited for a summer of hard work and a lot of learning.

Mijal Tenenbaum ’16

 

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, My First Week

This summer I am interning at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) located in Portland, Maine. It’s a nonprofit and politically independent research, education, and community outreach organization. GMRI focuses on enhancing science education and literacy amongst the children of the state of Maine through interactive science programs, providing scientific data to inform policy makers on management of the fisheries Gulf of Maine as they experience environmental change, working with fishermen, chefs, and local retailers to encourage and support local, sustainable, and profitable seafood, and finally, strengthening fishing communities along the Gulf. For more information on GMRI’s main goals and programs I highly suggest checking out their website. Located right on the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically only a couple hundred yards from Casco Bay, GMRI is very connected with its main focus, the Gulf of Maine. As someone who loves the coast, going to work everyday and seeing the sea gulls flying by, the boats moving about, and smelling that salt air just makes the experience all the sweeter.

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Rooftop view from GMRI
View my floor in the facility
View my floor in the facility

I was born and raised in Maine, right on the ocean near Portland. The ocean has always been important to me. The first time I ever came to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, I was in 5th grade, a student visiting on a school field trip shortly after their current facility was built. When I came to Brandeis and became interested in economics, environmental economics in particular; I saw this choice as the perfect way to advocate for the proper stewardship of the places that are so near and dear to my heart. My academic work at Brandeis has definitely prepared me for this internship. Without my professors and the WOW grant program, none of this would be possible.

As one of a team of four economics interns this summer, my primarily responsibility will be analyzing and collecting data relating to the warming of the Gulf of Maine due to climate change. An article from the Boston Globe, published last summer, nicely articulates the struggles my home state, a place very dependent on its natural resources, is having to face. For most of my first week, I analyzed water temperature data gathered from the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems and trying to make sense of it all using various software programs. That actually brings me to an important side note. Though it’s just been one week I’ve learned that the biggest obstacle in economic research is finding good and reliable data that is both easily accessible and can be easily merged into larger data sets. That is no small task and often the lack of information makes life difficult. Thankfully, however, websites like NERACOOS and brilliant programmers like those at GMRI are working to make data more accessible to economists and scientists alike. Without good data, you can’t really do much and the positive change you wish to see will have a hard time coming to fruition without anything to back it up.

At any rate, I will be continuing to analyze things like water temperature at various depths form the NERACOOS buoys GMRIaround the Gulf in addition to other data to try and figure out how changing temperatures are not only affecting the health and size of the lobster population but the local and even global sectors of the economy that depend on these unique crustacean. My work will be combined with the work of the three other interns in my division. It’s our goal to have a full report on the economic state of the lobster fishery, domestic and international, keeping in mind the ever increasing effects of climate change by the end of the summer!

My desk for the summer
My desk for the summer

I must say that I am very excited this summer because, for the first time, I have the chance to participate in and impact original research that not only matters to me but to my beloved home state as well. This summer is my chance to apply all of the theories and skills that I’ve learned though all of my economic and environmental studies courses at Brandeis. I want to pursue a career in environmental economics after graduation and perhaps get more involved in research, maybe even go to graduate school. Everyone has been more than welcoming so far this week. GMRI does a great deal to help integrate the ten plus interns across the various departments into the organization and after one week I already feel at home. There are 8 weeks left of my summer internship but I can tell right now that it’ll go by too fast. One week certainly has.

– Rebecca Mitchell ’16

The Small Army of the Advertising World and its Cancer Kicking Pal, Be Bold, Be Bald!

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Last week I started working for the advertising agency Small Army and it’s not-for-profit cancer foundation Small Army For A Cause, which runs the Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser each October. It is located in the historic Horticultural Hall on Massachusetts Avenue in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston and is right across the street from the famous Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Pops. It is in a beautiful area of Boston, and it is only a short walk away from the Prudential Center, Boylston St., and Newbury St.

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(https://goo.gl/maps/0CLTW)

Small Army and Small Army For A Cause are some of the most creative businesses I have ever come into contact with. Small Army may be an ad agency, but they actually consider themselves to be “Storytellers for Confident Brands.”

“We consider ourselves professional storytellers but the industry we reside in is called advertising. We don’t believe advertising works anymore and that building campaigns off of key messages is outdated. We believe that when a person receives over 3,000 messages a day that odds are, they’re not paying attention to you.

 We believe that marketing is about sharing stories and creating relationships. It’s about creating a conversation and arming people with the story about you that resonates with them. As a result, they want to share it with their friends.” (http://smallarmy.net/who-we-are/)

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Small Army For A Cause, which runs the national cancer fundraiser Be Bold, Be Bald! each October, is just as creative. Taking place wherever you are, “participants go bald by boldly wearing a bald cap (or very boldly shaving their head) to honor those who bravely fight cancer and raise money to help fight back.  Participants get sponsored for their bold move, and choose the charity they want their proceeds to benefit.” Since it’s creation in 2009, close to 11,000 people have raised approximately $1 million dollars towards cancer awareness and research.  (http://beboldbebald.org/cmspage/5/event-details)

Heading into my first day, I was very excited. I had previously worked with a few people in the office, CEO Jeff Freedman and Jen Giampaolo, last summer as a marketing consultant for Small Army For A Cause’s Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser as a part of the JBS Marketing program. With their help along with the help of many Brandeis students and faculty, we established a successful pilot program at the university and raised over $4,000 towards cancer awareness and research. However, this summer I will not only focus on Be Bold, Be Bald!, but I will also focus on many of the advertising agency’s accounts as part of my role as Account Services and Social Media Intern. Some of these accounts include Reebok One, Sage Bank, Blue Hills Bank, Long’s Jewelers, SolidWorks, Direct Tire, GymIt, General Electric, Salonweek, WGBH, Boston Medical Center, and Bugaboo Creek. (Small Army)

I had seen the office a few times before, so I knew how close-knit and friendly the workspace and my fellow coworkers would be. It’s funny though because growing up as a kid during a time when Mad Men was your only source of what ad agencies were like, you would expect a very structured, suit-and-tie workplace that is filled many individual offices and cubicles. You wouldn’t expect a wide-open, quirky workspace filled with a bunch of enthusiastic workers, and not to mention pictures of photo-shopped cat images, crazy memes, and artwork around every corner.

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Small Army – See the Space

Besides the cool office space and work environment, my assignments have been very engaging and interesting. I have worked a lot on the social media, infrastructure, and customer management for Be Bold, Be Bald!, worked with a team to do marketing research for Southern New Hampshire Immediate Care and for the urgent care industry as a whole, and worked with a group to develop a new, innovative website for Blue Hills Bank.   Not only have these assignments been interesting and engaging, but Small Army encourages interns to reach out to members on specific projects in which they might be interested in, join in on client calls, attend internal agency meetings, attend brainstorming sessions for clients, and many more.

I look forward to the rest of my time working at Small Army and hope to transform into one of the many “professional storytellers” at Small Army and Small Army For A Cause.

Getting started at Benson-Henry

Hello blogsophere!

This week marks my second week as a research assistant intern at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. The Benson-Henry Institute  is a clinical psychology institute running out of the psychiatry department at MGH where we focus on health care and research relating to mind body medicine. Specifically, the Benson-Henry Institute studies the relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response in the body. The BH not only studies what types of exercises and techniques can elicit the relaxation response (i.e. yoga, meditation, etc), but also how the relaxation response affects our health. Studies published out of the BH have found that the relaxation response can help cancer patients, patients suffering from various mental disorders, and just about everybody else. Some of the published work by the Benson-Henry Institute can be found here.

 

If you Google on Google images, “relaxation response,” this is what comes up. At Benson-Henry, we emphasize the interaction of the mind and the body in health and health care.

There is always a lot going on at BH! We have multiple studies in constant motion, as well as patients interacting with doctors, and lab work through the hospital.

As a research intern, I am lucky enough to get to work with lots of different studies. This week, we are finishing up and organizing data for a 5-year longitudinal study on stress reduction. Next week, I’ll be starting data collection and entry on a study on myeloma and its interaction with the relaxation response.

One of the other great parts about this internship, aside from really getting my hands dirty in the research realm of clinical psychology, is getting to learn about everything else and everyone else who works at MGH. Benson-Henry has wonderful ties with various parts of the hospital, from the psychiatry department to the biomedical labs. For instance, every Thursday, the psychiatry department hosts grand rounds. Though most of the interns assumed this meant walking around the hospital following a doctor, grand rounds is actually one day a week to showcase some of the work and research that simultaneously occurs sometimes behind-the-scenes in the department. Today, we heard from an intern who is about to get his PhD and wrote his dissertation on adolescent depression. He talked about how gender, race, and therapy affect depression trends. As I was walking out of the lecture with another intern from Brandeis, we reflected on how incredible it was that we were able to understand so much of the talk because of the psychology courses we had taken. We knew how his study was formatted, and we were familiar with the tests he used to understand and measure depression, and we felt comfortable asking questions.

Finally, one of the coolest parts about grand rounds is that they all take place in the Ether Dome, the site of the first surgery at Mass General. Below is a picture of the Dome.

Eliana Rosenthal ’16’

ERG: The Beginning

I recently began my internship at Eastern Research Group (ERG), an environmental consulting company headquartered in a woodsy office park in Lexington, MA. Although ERG is headquartered in Lexington, it has seven offices nationwide and coast-to-coast. ERG is made up of approximately 400 employees with a variety of academic backgrounds, from engineering to law, frequently working with and offering expertise to federal agencies on environmental projects. These projects can entail conducting research, assisting with stakeholder outreach, providing technical support and more. Their website offers a summary of past projects!

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ERG in Lexington, MA

I will mainly work from the Lexington location, which means my morning drives begin with the humdrum of I-95 traffic, but end with a long stretch of gorgeous green parkland and the occasional turtle and turkey sighting.

My first project is about revamping ERG’s marketing materials for ecosystem restoration projects along the Gulf of Mexico, embattled with environmental challenges stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill and climate change. I will be writing summaries, compiling photos and playing around with formatting for marketing materials for my supervisor to use at a conference later in June. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about ERG’s work as well as environmental efforts in the Gulf coast.

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View from the office window (yes, that’s a volleyball net)

As an intern, I also get to shadow environmental consultants. During my first week, I shadowed a group call between an environmental economist and his team members, who were discussing ways to improve a project about coastal management resources. I also attended a staff meeting during which ERG’s CEO and Founder David Meyers gave a presentation on the company’s business model. It was a very cool way to be introduced to ERG and understand the company’s inner teamwork structure that allows for projects to run smoothly.

Later in the week, I learned about and inputted dummy data for a greenhouse gas emissions calculator tool, which I will be attending the presentation for during the following week in Boston. This nifty tool allows individuals and groups to estimate weekly greenhouse gas contributions during morning commutes. (Sadly, I learned my weekly drives to ERG pump ~80lbs of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.)

Between intern tasks and shadowing, I was routinely reviewing background materials provided by supervisors in addition to doing my own research to gain context for the projects and the industry. I’m working on familiarizing myself with new terminologies and adjusting to different writing styles and work dynamics. So far, I really appreciate how “hands on” the experience is. It blows my mind to be witnessing the development of environmental projects up close and to be around the minds behind them.

As a rising senior, I envision pursuing a career studying environmental problems and solutions and conveying them to the public in some way. Given how wide-ranging environmental issues are, I see myself working with a diverse group of minds, like scientists and lawyers. Therefore, I felt drawn towards the project-based, multidisciplinary and collaborative format of the consulting work at ERG. After my first week, I felt I had learned a lot about ERG and myself as a worker, and I look forward to even more learning in the coming weeks.

– Dora Chi ’16

Promising Beginnings: My First Few Days in the Massachusetts AGO

Few are fortunate enough to be able to say that, during their very first semester of college, they were assigned to an “Introduction to Law” discussion session led by a lively, enthusiastic Assistant Attorney General. Even fewer can say that the following summer, with no prior employment experience whatsoever under their belt, they were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to intern in his office under his guidance as well as that of my supervisors and the rest of their equally kind colleagues in the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in Boston. I am thus humbled by this chance to serve the Commonwealth and t­­o explore this prospective career path, and these first two weeks in the office have not disappointed.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/criminal/

I have always been inexplicably drawn to the practice of law. Though my interest in legal issues was already very developed in high school, it naturally became more acute during my two semesters at Brandeis. Thanks to Brandeis’ unique opportunities to pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum, I began to see legal dilemmas through the lens of gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, and all the societally-defined categories which shape how different citizens experience the law, and developed a thirst for developing this more socially aware perspective of common law. For this reason, I could not have been more fortunate for this opportunity to work under this particular Attorney General (AG).

 

Attorney General Maura Healey

I could not be more inspired by the principles upon which AG Maura Healey serves her state. She is invested in many new policies which I admire such as fighting drug addiction with increased treatment and reduced incarceration as well as increasing sex education and women’s rights, but I am most stirred to action by her work in her preceding position as the Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the AGO. Ms. Healey fronted the Commonwealth’s challenge to DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, successfully leading the arguments which came to be the first to strike down the law and ensure equal marriage rights for all. I hope to one day emulate Maura Healey’s levelheaded potency when confronting whatever poignant civil rights cases I am faced with as a lawyer.

http://www.maurahealey.com/about

However, for now, I must concentrate on the tasks at hand in my current position, and am thrilled to be doing so. My internship is unique in that I serve not one division of an AGO bureau but rather the entire Criminal Bureau, and I am thus able to collaborate with dozens of lawyers, financial investigators, paralegals, etc. This ensures that I will be able to dabble in many different kinds of projects and determine my passions, strengths and weaknesses both within the field of law and outside it. Everyone I have met has amicably invited me to pop into his or her office any time to ask questions or to just chat, and this opportunity for office-wide connection has exposed me to a wide range of projects. These assignments include researching suspects, unearthing the evidence behind still secret financial scandals, and, most importantly to me, contributing to the state’s human trafficking awareness and training expansion efforts.

In essence, I hope to gain real world, legal experience while working diligently in whatever task is assigned to me in order to serve the office and the Commonwealth to the best of my abilities this summer, and it seems as though, in this friendly, dedicated, hardworking office, that won’t be too hard!

 

One Ashburton Place – Home of the Criminal Bureau of the Massachusetts AGO

My first week at the American Enterprise Institute

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a not-for-profit think tank that was founded in 1938. Scholars at AEI serve leaders and the public through research and education on several important fronts, including economics, foreign affairs and domestic issues. AEI’s mission is to expand liberty, increase individual opportunity and strengthen free enterprise through debate, reasoned argument and research. AEI’s long history is only one of the many reasons why I was so nervous to walk through the doors on Monday morning.

I have never really been an intern before. I have always had multiple jobs, however, I find the word ‘internship’ particularly nerve-wracking. So, on my walk over, I made sure to take in the sights of D.C. in order to calm my nerves.  I had never been to D.C. before this week and, on that first day, the city felt huge and intimidating. AEI’s office is located at 17th and M Street, which means the walk from my apartment is about 15 minutes long. On my commute, I have found that it is equally fascinating to watch the people as it is to survey the architecture. It seems like every type of person in the world may find him or herself in Washington. There is so much to do here, and I am quite excited by the prospect of it all.

Hanging out at the Mall!
Hanging out at the Mall!

Now that a week has passed, and I have had the opportunity to reflect, the word ‘internship’ seems a little less scary, and the city itself seems a little less big. On that very first day I walked into a room of interns, strangers from across the globe, all filled with trepidation. Over the course of a week, a sense of camaraderie has formed, and the anxiety has faded away as we have settled into our roles.

I attribute a large part of my new-found comfort to the warmth of the digital strategy team. It has only been a week and I have already had training sessions in everything from Photoshop to Google Analytics. I feel as if I am learning real skills that will benefit me in the future. The team’s guidance has also allowed me to get started working on the various digital platforms at AEI. I am sure that the hands-on experience I am gaining will prove invaluable.

The Washington Monument
The Washington Monument

In addition to this training and the work itself that I am happily doing, AEI has already proven to be an amazing place to work. This week alone I was taken to lunch by the digital strategy team and all of AEI attended the Nationals vs. Cubs baseball game—in matching t-shirts, of course! So far, I am having a great time at my internship. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer will have in store.

National vs. Cubs game!
National vs. Cubs game!

 

Margot Grubert, ’17

 

ISlide: The Final Chapter

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We had a lot of fun throughout the summer, especially when trying to finish a giant Whoopie Pie (see above via Instagram).

As the hours ticked by on my last day of work at ISlide, I noticed several things running through my mind. The first was relief. I knew that after this day I would be able to go home and see my family and that 45-hour work weeks were a thing of the past (for now at least). The second, however, was sadness. Throughout my time as a summer intern for ISlide, I grew extremely close with my coworkers, my boss, and the company itself, and the day had come where I would be leaving it. I had fallen in love with everything the company stood for, the product, and how we went about our business day in and day out. I started to realize how much I would miss that hot, old, amazing mill. But my time had come to move on and to allow another batch of young, intelligent, hard-working interns to come in and give it everything they had.

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Here is a picture of the slides I had made for a CrossFit Gym in Dallas (via Instagram).

During the months that I worked at ISlide, I had tasks and activities that helped me move towards my learning goals everyday. My main job was in sales. I worked day in and day out trying to add accounts for the company and manage the ones that I was able to sign. This task allowed me to build communication skills, confidence on the phone and in emails, and bolstered my Microsoft Office abilities. On top of that, we all worked very closely with Justin (ISlide’s CEO) in meetings where the topics included real world sales and operations reports, cash flow sheets, and investor decks that were used to pitch the company to outside venture capitalists and angel investors. These activities gave me background on all the things I had learned in the classroom and showed me how they are relevant in the business world. My tasks and activities at ISlide boosted my real-world business experience, taught me new skills and techniques, and showed me what it truly takes to run a successful start-up company.

From this point forward I will be looking to build off of my experience at ISlide. When it comes to my time in the classroom at Brandeis, I will use the experience I have gained and the new facets of business that I have learned to put the material into context as to how it could be important in future jobs. I think that this will allow me to focus more because what I am learning will have more meaning. I will also take my experience beyond to levels that reach outside of the classroom. Without a doubt in my mind, I will put to use the skills I learned at ISlide in my future internships, jobs, applications, and in life in general. I want to learn so much more and what I learned this summer will serve as excellent background knowledge for all of my future endeavors. I would love to explore more and more facets of business. I have experienced the start up world and the positions as a sales rep and I loved it. However, I would also like to look into advertising, marketing, and finance. These three things are experiences that I would like to take on in the future so that my knowledge can become as well-rounded as possible.

If I were to advise a future intern at ISlide or one in the sales/business field in general, I would tell them one thing: work hard. Work harder than you think you should. Don’t go into this internship thinking you have good work ethic; look to improve it. When I arrived at ISlide, I thought that I had top-notch work ethic, but then I watched Justin day in and day out. He is so diligent and so passionate and is willing to put in the hours for his company, for his child, so to speak. This rubbed off on me and before I knew it the nine hour days were flying by, I was working on emails when I got home from work, and I was thinking about ISlide all the time. The fact that I pushed myself to new limits when it came to my work ethic allowed me to experience success, and there is no better feeling than when the grind pays off. Here is a link to the website of an MMA apparel brand that I signed. I advise to work your tail off because in the end, it will make it exponentially more rewarding and you will be proud of the body of work you put together.

I loved my time at ISlide and wouldn’t change it for anything. It was an amazing summer, I learned more than I could have ever expected to, and it was a ride that I will never forget. Here is the “Meet the Interns” video that one of my fellow interns made about our summer with ISlide.

-Max Hart

LAVA BEAR Conclusion

My internship has come to a close! Unlike in my other posts, I feel at a loss for words. This experience at Lava Bear was everything I had hoped it would be. In my exit interview, I pretty much delivered heaps upon heaps of effusive praise. Lava Bear is a great company – it was sheer serendipity that this place was perfect for me. The last few days have been rough, acclimating to the responsibilities of “real life” and accepting that my time in Los Angeles has come to a close (or at least a hiatus).

The viewof Lava Bear through the garage
The view of Lava Bear through the garage

Spending these last few days reflecting, I feel that I accomplished my many goals. I now know that I could happily live in LA. I now know that I could work in development. I now know that I could read scripts for a living. This summer was not necessarily revelatory (it was too lifelike for that) but it was an incredibly important step in my career. I now know that I want to learn more about film budgeting and the Massachusetts Film Commission (potential future internship site?). I have developed a deeper love of screenwriting that I cannot really expound upon; again, my confidentiality agreement heeds, but I must say that one of the highlights of my summer was sorting through tens of fascinating and individualistic scripts that I cannot tell you about.

I was just discussing with a friend whether I thought reading such a dense volume of scripts improved my writing. While I don’t think it stoked my creative side, I feel my analytical work will be much stronger now. My wit is definitely more acerbic, that’s for sure! I will definitely be able to apply these skills during my final year at Brandeis. On the way out, one of the higher-ups told me I should start a blog. What a thought! I discussed with my coworkers the possibility of moving out here; all of them seemed willing (even eager) to help me locate a job. Writing thank-you notes was easy. I feel blessed and happy that I was able to make this dream a reality (with the help of others). Moreover, I made contact with a bevy of independent artists in the community. The friends I have made in California have been wonderful. I feel satisfied with the networking I did, and furthermore, I believe I developed my skills in networking.

I walked past this street art every day on the day to work
I walked past this street art every day on the day to work

My thoughts on film have shifted, particularly my thoughts on screenwriting. I feel pretty confident that I could work various vocations, from a suit to a creative. Now I have this year to make some decisions about the niche I want to occupy. Thanks to the WOW, I feel certain that I could compete in this landscape. I encourage anyone looking to work in film to simply start networking immediately. Networking is vital and you cannot make film without the assistance of others. That is what I love about film art, that it requires collaboration. I took particular joy in showing the work of Brandeis Television, a club I’m on the E-board of, to my employers and artistic friends. This is also not a shill, but I strongly recommend taking advantage of the resources the Hiatt Career Center has to offer. I used Hiatt offices to conduct my multiple phone interviews, have my resume checked, and the advice of my Hiatt liaison has been vital throughout the process. Keep working, keep pushing, because really, what else is there to life besides kindness and art-making?

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, my intermittent Carriemoments. Bonne chance, Brandesians and future WOW’ers!

-Alex Weick, Brandeis 2015

ioby Recap

After finishing my internship I feel a distinct sense of accomplishment in more ways than I imagined. As I have written in previous blogs, I have learned so much that I can take back to the class room. At Brandeis I have created an IIM around Urban Studies. Over the course of my internship I conducted over 40 interviews of community leaders that have used ioby to help create the change they want in their own neighborhoods. These interviews have given me insight into what needs community members have from their community. It also has shown me many different ways that people go about ensuring that their neighborhoods are healthy and vibrant. I have saved all of the research that I have done and may use it for a project some time this year.

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While I did expect to have an enriching academic experience, I also got to meet and work with talented and passionate people. It was really awesome working directly underneath the co-founders of the organization because I not only learned how the organization functions in the present but I also learned about how the organization has changed and grown. These relationships will definitely help me as I enter into the workforce.

I would definitely recommend this internship to anyone that is interested. While it was not a very established program like other internship opportunities, It did allow me to get real hands on experience. As a senior this internship has given me a better idea of what working a 9-5. It has also helped me narrow down what I want to be getting from a job that I might take after this school year. I think that it was really helpful to have personal interaction with the leaders of the organization. If anyone is looking into working for ioby I would recommend investing in relationships with the co-founders. They were not only hardworking but also very willing to talk about their experience. We discussed topics ranging from grad school to the process of starting a non-profit.

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I am so grateful that I have had this important opportunity. It has not only taught me so much but also made me feel productive throughout the summer. I hope to find a job next year that will be as rewarding as working for ioby this summer.

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Josh Berman ’15

Bridging my experience at Project Healthcare with my career path

 

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Project Healthcare volunteers bid farewell to Bellevue Hospital Center

As a project healthcare (PHC) volunteer, about 90 percent of my time was spent in the Emergency Department (ED), which consists of the Adult Emergency Services, the Pediatric Emergency Services, Psychiatric Emergency Services, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Ward or the Trauma ICU. In the ED, my responsibilities included, but were not limited to, doing EKGs, making stretchers, transporting patients, and being a patient advocate, which included making phone calls on behalf of patients and monitoring length of patient stay. I also had the incredible opportunity to observe surgeries in the OR and shadow doctors with various specialties. With the endless opportunities to learn and an unparallel experience for someone who wants to go into the medical field, I not only reached the goals I set for myself at the inception of PHC, but also surpass those goals and grow in ways that I couldn’t have possibly imagined.

In shadowing doctors ranging from neurologists, gynecologists, surgeons, internists, and many more, I achieved my career goal of learning the ins and outs of daily hospital operations and the day-to-day life of being a doctor. In observing procedures including lumbar punctures, sutures, a craniotomy, etc, I achieved my academic goal of paralleling my experience with courses I’ve taken or will take at Brandeis. Learning about the anatomy of the human body or the physiological ways in which parts of the body function is one thing, but actually witnessing doctors using this knowledge to save lives is something completely different.

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I and other PHC interns in front of the historic Bellevue Hospital gates

When I set my final goal, my personal goal, at the beginning of the program, I couldn’t have predicted how far I’d transcend that goal by simply being in the ED and interacting with patients. My personal goal was to improve my day-to-day interactions with people regardless of their mental health or medical status. With Bellevue’s diverse patient population ranging from homeless people and prisoners to people from all socio-economic backgrounds, I learned to become effective in communicating mainly by being attentive and learning how to listen without being dismissive of people’s ideas, thoughts and feelings. In retrospect, when I think about how, towards the end of PHC, I could simply walk into the ED and deduce from a look on a patient’s face, what his or her pain and/or comfort level was and help them get a nurse’s attention, I now know that I helped to make patients’ experience in the ED more pleasant.

My next steps, after PHC, are to continue to build on the skills I’ve developed and continue to stay on the path to becoming a physician. At Brandeis University, I will continue to take classes that will not only fulfill the pre-med requirements I need to complete before applying to medical school, but also give me more of an in-depth explanation and a comprehensive understanding of some of the procedures I was fortunate to observe over the summer. The human body is fascinating machinery and I still have a lot to learn about how that machine operates. I will also look for and take advantages of opportunities to gain more clinical experience in a hospital setting. To anyone who is interested in interning with Project Healthcare or anyone who wants to pursue a career in medicine, my advice is to seize every opportunity to learn, and remember that no question is a stupid question. Physicians aren’t the only people you can learn from; talk to nurses, physician assistants, patient care technicians, and anyone who is willing to teach you. You will get out of your internship almost as much as you put into it, so work hard, even when no one is looking, and take advantage of opportunities to network and gain advice from people in your field of interest.

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One of my final moments with other PHC interns at Bellevue Hospital.

See you later BR Guest

Having completed my internship and having time to reflect, I can see I have met all goals originally set at the beginning of this experience. As previously discussed in my blogs, the educational, workplace, and personal goals I set I have achieved. I learned how to apply my psychology and business knowledge to the world of Human Resources, was able to experience HR in full capacity, and lastly was able to learn about the restaurant industry from the corporate perspective. Moreover, I have learned and experienced more than I could even imagine. For example, through completing the internship project, I was able to learn all about my specific field as well as others in corporate and the restaurant industry in general. For the project, we had to create a new restaurant concept and create a PowerPoint (presented in front of the CEO), explaining all the steps it would take to open the restaurant. To get all the information, the other interns and I had to meet with many different directors and employees to learn every step in creating a restaurant. After completion, I truly understand the ins and outs of the restaurant industry and hospitality.

Interns restaurant pitch
Interns restaurant pitch
Mock Menu
Mock Menu
Timeline to opening day
Timeline to opening day

After learning so much already, I am hungry for more. I want to continue to learn about Human Resources and see what the field is like outside of the restaurant group. The restaurant industry is fast paced which includes a lot of turnover, so I am curious what Human Resources looks like from a different industry. Also, within BR Guest itself, I would want to experience a day-in-the-life of a Director of Operations (this is the person who directly oversees the restaurant). I loved the industry I was in and would love to explore more within the company.

For any student who is interested in an internship at BR Guest, I would advise them to DEFINITELY apply! My experience was amazing with this company and I hope to work with them again in the future. I would advise applicants to put yourself out there and to be passionate, open-minded, and eager to learn. For those students intrigued with the restaurant hospitality industry I would let them know that being personable is a must. You are meeting with people every day and must be comfortable with public speaking. You must be flexible due to the fast paced environment, something can come up at any second. The industry is a challenge but it is manageable.

I am so thankful for WOW letting me complete this experience because it helped me understand more about what I want to do in the future as well as more about myself. This is an experience I will never forget!

Farewell Blog

My internship finally came to an end. My main goal for this summer was to figure out whether I want to be in industry or academia. During the summer, I worked hard to figure this out by getting myself involved in data analysis, proposals, and business meetings. Since I only have one more year at Brandeis, I plan to build on this experience as much as I can. I now know that I plan to pursue my career in industry. I plan to use my network to explore the industry and figure out what I’m truly passionate about.

 

This internship taught me something I already knew, but never really paused to think about: Don’t waste your 20s making money, but find your passion and spend the rest of your life doing your passion. Now, I want to learn more about my passion. What is it about industry and science that I love? Where do I learn the most? What exactly keeps me up late at night and is this the reason I wake up 5 in the morning to get a head start? I want to spend the rest of my Brandeis experience figuring this out. I owe it to myself and owe it to myself to gain additional experience in what I’m passionate about.

 

For anyone interested in finding a career in industry with science, I have an advice for you: Dive head first and give it all you have. You won’t know if it’s for you unless you do. You have nothing to lose (e.g. no kids, no mortgage, no house, etc) so why not take the risk? If you’re interested in Innerscope Research, I have the same advice: Give it all you have. It is not the ONLY firm to work for that has uses science in industry however, it is a good one to give a try.

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Alicia Park, ’15

 

Last Week at the McAllister Lab

Another summer done at the McAllister Lab! My experience at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School was absolutely amazing, and this summer was the best out of all of my previous summers there. This summer, I practiced and learned many wet-lab techniques. Additionally, I  participated in multiple journal clubs where members of my lab met to discuss the results of other scientists that do work that is similar to ours. In these journal clubs, we analyzed their results with our lens, and I learned to start questioning the integrity of others’ results alongside my other lab members. I used to accept the data presented by peer-reviewed articles with a sort of blind faith, but I’ve been slowly learning how to question what I read because not all reviewers catch the holes in someone’s research.

2014 Summer Students of the McAllister Lab, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

After working alone all summer without a direct in-lab mentor, I can say that I am now very comfortable with the idea of planning my own experiments and days at work. With all the results that have been generated from the past and this current summer, I have been creating figures that will be used in our upcoming paper. Some of these figures include growth kinetics charts, incidence graphs, microscopy panels, and concentration graphs. I have also learned how to use CellProfiler, a cell image analysis software that was developed at the Broad Institute. It has been particularly helpful in analyzing the microscopy I have done all summer, and the best part is that I can use it to analyze my results at home even though I’m finished with my experiments now. Dr. McAllister and I have had multiple meetings together about how the paper will be laid out, and we are currently maintaining correspondence about its progress. I also am excited to say that some of my results from the summer were novel, so we are now trying to determine where the data will fit inside the paper. I presented my research to the rest of Brigham and Women’s Division of Hematology last Friday and I am relieved that the presentation went well.

Going forward, I plan to take all the skills that I learned from the McAllister Lab with me as I pursue other research endeavors. I have had the privilege of developing an in-depth understanding of research academia through this internship, and I believe that this understanding will be particularly useful in the fall semester when I start as an undergraduate research assistant at one of Brandeis’ neuroscience labs. I think for next summer, it would be interesting to try to find an internship in the field of industry, perhaps at a biotechnology company to see what it’s like to be on the for-profit side of biology instead of the non-profit side. For anyone who is interested in pursuing an internship in research academia, I would first suggest finding a special program for students that put them in mentored research environments. Many colleges and hospitals around the country have these summer research internships, and it is during these summers that students can form long-lasting career networks. After being in a research environment for a whole summer, there is a high possibility of returning for another summer if correspondence is maintained. For researching specifically under the Harvard Medical School umbrella of summer programs, this is a great resource. The program I was originally in (for the first two summers) was the CURE Program of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Overall, I had a wonderful summer. On our last day, Dr. McAllister participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with me and some of our other summer students. We all went out with a “splash” and it was a fun experience! Here is the link to our video: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: McAllister Lab

McAllister Lab and Mullaly Lab at the going-away party of our administrative assistant

Irene Wong, ’17

 

Completion of my NYCSCC Internship

The last day of my New York City Seminar and Conference Center (NYCSCC) internship is a bittersweet day for me. I am happy that I have learned so much at this internship but sad that I will not be working with my coworkers every day.

This summer, I have finished a Financial Analysis project from the very beginning to the very end. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was compiling data on an Excel spreadsheet. Since all of the data was in Excel, I have honed my Excel skills in the 10 weeks at this internship. I have encountered many roadblocks while doing the Financial Analysis project but the support of fellow interns and coworkers has led me to overcome these challenges. At the end of the internship, I presented the Financial Analysis project in a PowerPoint presentation to NYCSCC employees. Although I was nervous when presenting the project, another feeling overcame that: the feeling of accomplishment.

After this internship experience, I will take the analytical skills I honed and apply them to my Brandeis classes. During my junior and senior years at Brandeis, I will be taking Business and Economics classes and will need to use these skills in the class projects and papers.

Following this internship, I want to complete more internships that allow me to focus on developing my skills. While completing the Financial Analysis project, I realized that I am a process-oriented person and enjoy completing tasks from start to finish.

For those of you looking to intern at NYCSCC, I suggest that you attend the Winter NYC CIC fair because NYCSCC is usually at the fair. Before applying to the internship, you should look into the NYCSCC website to get an overview of what NYCSCC is. NYCSCC has internships in both marketing and finance. Having talked to the Marketing intern throughout my internship, I know there is so much you can learn in either area at this small business hospitality company. If you want to get an idea of what the benefits of interning at a small business are, you can check out my small company blog post.

For students interested in the small business hospitality field, make sure that you are a people person. In this field, employees are always dealing with clients and making sure that they are getting the best services possible. Therefore, you should be ready to do the same at this internship.

Interning at NYCSCC has been an enjoyable and memorable learning experience. I have built close connections with NYCSCC employees, and I will keep in touch with them even after the internship.

Me and my fellow interns at NYCSCC

 

Time is flying at Project Happiness!

Time is flying by here in California, and everyday includes a new adventure – whether at the office or just at home. I have familiarized myself with so much about Project Happiness, and every time I come into the office, I enjoy spending the day there more and more. Though my projects change daily, they all revolve around establishing a sustainable business model for the organization. Last week, I worked on the organization’s executive summary, revamping its old format and making it more reflective of our current goals and programs. At this point, very little supervision is required, as I have become very familiar with what we do and what our objectives are. Though it is very nice to have my supervisor a couple feet away for whenever I have questions, it’s also great to have so much independence and a chance to explore the best methods to complete my tasks.

I am so incredibly proud of how much I have come to love Project Happiness and their mission. Helping this wonderful organization has not only given me valuable job market skills, it has also shown me a more positive attitude towards life and its hardships. I hope to be able to carry those skills with me throughout my senior year of college and also the rest of my life. Everyone at the organization is so passionate about what we do, and they truly embody what we stand for.

This summer, I have been participating in an extremely positive work environment, meeting people of extremely diverse professional backgrounds and been allowed a great degree of freedom with my work techniques. I hope to carry all the important lessons I have learned this summer with me as I enter my senior year, start my post-graduation job search, and lead the clubs I participate in at Brandeis. I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer at Project Happiness and can’t wait to see what other skills I will acquire in the remaining few weeks.

The poster for the Project Happiness film, directed by our founder.
The poster for the Project Happiness film, directed by our founder.

 

– Genevieve Oliveira ’15