Post #3: Pediatric Epilepsy Clinical Research Internship at Boston Children’s Hospital

As I begin to wrap up my summer internship, I started to reflect on a few things during my time as a senior pediatric epilepsy research intern. Prior to starting my summer internship, I defined a few learning goals that I set out to accomplish. I wanted to learn the basis of status epilepticus and encephalopathies. I learned this by taking lessons on how to read EEGs, recognizing different classifications of seizures, and learning how to read various EEG reports. Research-wise, I aspired to utilize PowerChart and REDCap and help research assistants enroll patients in clinical studies throughout the summer. By working hard on various projects and seeking mentorship from experienced members of my lab, I was able to achieve all of my goals. In addition to these goals, I was also able to mentor and train the summer interns as well as participate in the fall internship application process. Both of these experiences strengthened my skills in leadership, professionalism, and learning how to stand out among a pool of highly qualified applicants.

As stated in my previous blog post, this internship has reaffirmed my passion for going into medicine. Working at Boston Children’s Hospital and getting to know the patients and their conditions inspired me to take more interest in career fields such as pediatrics and neurology, which I would like to learn more about in the future. While I was able to learn how to conduct various tasks, I was also able to learn more about myself in the process. From this experience, I learned that I like clinical research, leading a team, and learning more about how epilepsy manifests.

If I could give some advice to a student interested in this internship or internships in clinical research, I would advise students to apply to as many internships as they can and not be afraid to ask any questions throughout the process. I find it important to really be involved in a lab that studies what you are interested in! This makes the learning process super fun and motivates you to learn more! While in the process,  is important to be knowledgeable about the internships you are applying to. This means you should read more about what research the lab is involved in so you can demonstrate your interest during your interviews. Some essential qualities to have if you are interested in clinical research those such as having strong leadership skills, collaboration with your team, respect for the patient’s privacy, and being flexible with different changes of plan.  

This summer, I am most proud of learning how to read EEGs, successfully completing multiple projects, and utilizing leadership skills to mentor the summer interns.  I am also very proud of being part of a team that is striving to implement new changes in the lab by advocating for more equitable resources for all backgrounds within the hospital and the academic opportunities currently running. I am excited to have been given the opportunity to continue to work in the lab throughout the academic year and learn more about epilepsy research. I am very grateful to the Loddenkemper Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Hiatt Career Center, and my family for believing in me and constantly supporting me throughout this internship. I am sad this summer internship is coming to an end, but I am so happy to continue to be part of the Loddenkemper Lab and help make a difference in the field of epilepsy research. See you next time!

Nandini 🙂

3- Reflecting on My Summer With GPRP

Over the summer, I definitely feel like I was able to fulfill the goal of gaining experience in clinical research. I never really considered a career in this field and am still not sure if it is the path for me, but it has been a great opportunity to learn from so many people at the Geriatric Psychiatry Research Program (GPRP) who have such diverse jobs and experiences. 

I think my time at GPRP has definitely clarified my career interests. I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of clinical research, even if it isn’t necessarily a career field I would want to pursue. Instead, I’ve grown more interested in gaining experience in neuroscience wet lab research or more computational and statistical work as it relates to neuroscience. Additionally, my internship has solidified my interest in working with people and patients so it has sparked a potential interest in pursuing a clinically-related career, such as becoming a therapist.

While working at GPRP, I’ve learned a lot about myself professionally. I’ve learned that I can multitask on a variety of projects and enjoy the flexibility and diversity that this brings to my work days. Additionally, I’ve grown more comfortable advocating for myself and pursuing different opportunities in terms of projects and mentorship from members of the lab.

For students interested in an internship at GPRP and McLean, I would recommend talking to coworkers and other staff members under the division you work in since everyone has such unique educational and personal experiences that they bring. One of the most valuable experiences has been talking to the research assistants at GPRP since they are all within a couple of years out of undergrad so they can act as great mentors for lab-related work and they offer insight into different educational paths people take in the psychiatric field as they apply to different graduate and Ph.D. programs. 

For undergrads interested in science research, I would say having an openness to a variety of different jobs and careers is really beneficial since there are so many options someone might not know of or consider if they’re focused on one specific area during college. I never thought of pursuing a career in psychiatry, especially working with geriatric populations, until my time at GPRP. 

Overall, I would say I’m most proud of adapting to a new workplace environment in a field I didn’t know much about or considered pursuing before this summer. It has also been impactful to be a part of research studies and clinical care that is benefiting the geriatric community, especially as it relates to dementia.  

I am very grateful to the WOW Fellowship for allowing me to explore a career in geriatric psychiatry and clinical research this summer. I’m excited to expand on the skills I’ve gained from WOW while I continue my time at GPRP this fall semester and in future jobs!

Post 1: Pediatric Epilepsy Internship at Boston Children’s Hospital

Hello Everyone! My name is Nandini Mandaloju and I am a rising senior majoring in Biology and Neuroscience. This summer, I got an incredible opportunity to continue working as a Senior Pediatric Epilepsy Clinical Research Intern at the Loddenkemper Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. I would like to thank the Hiatt Career Center for awarding me the Social Justice WOW Fellowship and the Loddenkemper Lab for supporting me throughout this internship!

Boston Children’s Hospital

One of the primary missions of the Loddenkemper Lab, led by Dr. Tobias Loddenkemper, is to prevent, predict, detect, and treat every seizure and status epilepticus in children before it occurs. The Loddenkemper lab uses machine learning and predictive algorithms to detect early warning signs of seizures through the Empatica Wristband. The Empatica Wristband is a revolutionary tool in medicine as it measures physiological data such as heart rate variability and electrodermal activity. We combine these seizure monitoring tools into our in-patient clinical studies to best develop epilepsy care in pediatric patients.

My day typically starts at 7:45 am, as I take the commuter rail to Longwood. One of my best friends, Hima, happens to take the same train and works nearby so we usually walk together to our labs and stop for coffee on the way! Upon reaching my lab, I usually like to spend a few minutes settling down before my morning huddles and lab meetings. Then, I train the incoming interns on the project that I worked on last summer. This project studies the effects of anti-seizure medications on the autonomic nervous system. I am currently working on another project that focuses on Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), where I analyze EEG reports and label different types of seizures. For these projects, I utilize databases such as PowerChart, and REDCap. Additionally, I learned how to utilize medical terminology, read EEGs, and recognize different types of seizures. I also accompany research fellows of the lab and enroll patients in clinical studies.

This is my workspace in the lab!

One thing I love about my lab is how they encourage their interns to learn more about their goals and broaden their knowledge and perspectives about medicine. I always make an effort to attend the Grand Round Lectures conducted by Harvard Medical School where doctors discuss important topics in medicine such as how to improve the care of children with limited English proficiency. I find it super inspiring to connect with physicians from the hospital and learn more about their perspectives on topics that aren’t often discussed through this lab. I also got an opportunity to shadow my primary investigator, Dr. Loddenkemper in the Outpatient clinic and In-Patient service, and learned how he interacts with pediatric patients with great enthusiasm, intelligence, and care. While at work, I also enjoy spending time exploring the hospital with my fellow interns through activities such as visiting the rooftop garden at Boston

Here is an amazing view from the rooftop garden at BCH!

Children’s Hospital and getting sweet treats such as lemonade and cupcakes. This internship has further solidified my interest to pursue a career in pediatric medicine and I am very excited to continue to build my skill set through this amazing journey!

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-

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’

Midpoint Reflections at Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health


Midpoint Reflections



What summer looks like at Harvard!

Now that I am more than halfway done with my internship at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health it is time that I reflect upon my work here so far! I have definitely become more comfortable with the working environment at the lab and feel like I am a helpful part of the research team.

After the initial excitement of starting out my internship, the next couple of weeks were a bit trying. There was a big push for data to be entered into Excel so a good portion of my time was devoted to data entry. After figuring out how to correctly code the data, I found the work to become monotonous after typing for several hours straight. On top of that I developed tendonitis in both of my wrists from typing too fast and incorrectly so I was a little bit disheartened. However, I remembered from the WOW advice given to me at the start of my internship that I should “embrace the grunt work” and try to look at the bigger picture of the work being done. I really took that guidance and applied it to my internship setting. I recognized that while the day-to-day typing was not the most glamorous job, that the results that came out of the study could really help children with mental health concerns.













Manual for MATCH therapy used in studies

Furthermore, I was trained in the meta analysis project which is more hands on and utilizes some of the knowledge I have gained from previous neuroscience and psychology classes. The meta analysis is a paper that the PI (principal investigator) puts out every couple of years that examines many previously published studies. It is a way to streamline all the data that exists in youth psychotherapy approaches. There are many different criteria a paper must meet to “pass” through the screening process so my job has been to read the paper and code for different research elements. It is extremely interesting to read about all the current work being done, and I feel like it has really enhanced my internship this summer.

Links to previous meta analyses

I think that while my classes at Brandeis have prepared me for this internship, working is pretty different from university/academic life. I’ve noticed that I am much more tired after working in the lab for a couple hours, versus taking classes and participating in extracurricular at Brandeis. Sitting in front of a computer requires energy in a very different way than I would have originally thought! However, as the weeks continued I noticed I became more adjusted to a working schedule and it didn’t feel as overwhelming. I have also noticed that working in a research lab is not as much about what you know but how well you work with others. Key skills are thinking on your feet, problem solving, and multitasking. Collaboration is essential to being able to accomplish anything in the lab.

Overall I feel that my weeks working at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health have given me a greater understanding in what research in a clinical psych lab looks like. While I am not sure if I would pursue a career solely in research, I can see myself being happy working as a research assistant after graduation and gaining more skills in the field. I am excited to finish out my internship and continue to develop professionally.

Melissa Viezel ’17

Summer’s End at McLean Hospital

As September approaches, my summer work at the Behavioral Health Partial Program at McLean Hospital is coming to a close. I have accomplished a lot this summer and was involved in some incredible projects. As I reflect on my learning goals, I realize that I managed to fulfill all of them. My main goal was to form a greater understanding of research in the realm of clinical psychology and within a treatment setting. Throughout the summer I was involved in many research projects where I learned how to research a topic, form a research idea, organize data, and write up results in a publishable research paper.  For my main project, I was able to research the predictors of suicidality in patients with psychosis. This project is ongoing, but I have completed the introduction and am currently working on the methods for this paper. This project has provided me with immense insight into the research process. However, I am not only grateful to be involved in this project, but I am also grateful to have worked at the BHP where the research is focused on treatment outcome in a naturalistic setting. Last week, I had a chance to observe group therapy, where group leaders teach patients skills in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). I had the task of completing fidelity scales, or scales I created based on group protocols. After selecting a specific set of therapy groups, we created fidelity scales from the important aspects of the protocols. Then, I sat in on these groups and marked when the group leader spoke about an important topic necessary for the patients’ understanding of the specific skill. Having a measure of treatment fidelity ensures that the patient is provided with the intended treatment. These scales can also be used for research purposes, allowing the BHP to confirm that the patient is really being taught CBT and DBT skills. Sitting in on therapy provided me with a greater understanding of how CBT and DBT are extremely important for the rehabilitation of those batting a range of mental illnesses. Watching patients’ engagement and listening to their stories and ideas made me realize how important this treatment is to their overall well-being, and I am extremely lucky that I was given the chance to witness patients’ learning and healing.  Therefore, besides my research projects, I was really able to understand the therapy provided to the patients at the BHP, which helped to broaden my clinical knowledge.

The entrance to McLean.
The entrance to McLean.

I will use all of my research knowledge I have acquired at the BHP as I begin my thesis project as a senior at Brandeis. This knowledge will not only help during the rest of my time at Brandeis, but as I continue in a clinical and research career. During this internship, I have recognized that my passion lies within the clinical field of psychology. I am eager to learn more about different types of therapies and treatments for mental illnesses, and I am excited to learn more about clinical research in the future.

As a student with a passion for clinical psychology, I encourage other students interested in this field to explore and learn as much as possible about different illnesses, treatments, and research. I highly recommend pursuing an internship, since it allows students to narrow their interests. An internship will help confirm whether or not clinical psychology is the right career path. It may also provide insight into whether or not the student is interested in conducting research, providing treatment, or both. I would highly suggest looking into an internship at McLean Hospital. Not only is it the #1 psychiatric hospital in the nation with the best treatment programs and incredible research, but it is also a place to meet and connect with so many people with a strong passion for clinical psychology. I have learned so much from working with the clinicians and researchers at McLean, and they have inspired me to keep working towards the career I want- a career in clinical psychology.

Lauryn Gardner, ’15

My Work at the Behavioral Health Partial Program

The Behavioral Health Partial (BHP) Program is a treatment center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, for those battling a wide range of mental health issues, varying from mood and anxiety disorders to thought and personality disorders. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), the BHP offers group and individual therapy sessions to reduce patient’s symptoms and improve their functioning. On average, patients attend this day program for around 7-10 days and are often transitioning from inpatient care to outpatient treatment.

 The BHP conducts extensive research in order to study different mental illnesses and the effects of CBT and DBT. Each day, patients complete self-report questionnaires. This data is then used to assess treatment outcome, symptom severity, and many other factors. These questionnaires, along with clinical assessments, are essential for research at the BHP. Currently, I am helping with many research projects, including improving research databases and co-writing a research paper.

I secured this internship a year ago, spending only two months at the BHP last summer and mainly working on a treatment fidelity project. This summer, however, I am co-writing a research article that explores the predictors of suicidality in those with psychosis.  Currently, I am working on completing the literature search that will provide the background information for the article. I am researching the suicidality predictors that researchers have used in the past. From this, we can choose a number of predictors from our database to form our own model. These predictors will then be assessed for significance to see if they are notably correlated with suicidality in patients with psychosis. These predictors are taken mostly from clinical assessments and self-report surveys.

I am also working on a visual timeline that displays all of the measures ever administered at the BHP. In order to do so, I have to navigate the BHP database to find the dates of when these measures were administered and terminated. I am also involved with running depressed subjects in a cognitive biased modification (CBM) experiment. It is our hope that this CBM task will improve the automatic negative thoughts that often accompany depression. With this internship, I am gaining experience in a clinical setting by interacting with patients and clinicians.

In the first week, I have been working closely with the research coordinator and a post-doctoral fellow. I have learned how to navigate SPSS, databases, E-prime, and Excel while also learning how to begin a research project and complete a literature search. I am excited to continue with these projects and I am learning something new every day. I am hoping to deepen my understanding of the research methods used in psychology as well as experiencing the implications of such research in a clinical setting.

-Lauryn Garner, ’15

The Temporal Center of My Time at the Trauma Center

It’s been about a month since I first started my internship at the trauma center, and since then I have been exposed to many activities that have allowed me to work on my goals for this summer. Academically, I started the summer knowing I needed more experience doing clinical research in order to properly prepare myself for a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology later on. I have been able to measure my progress through the number of studies I have found, analyzed and included in my literature. So far this number has climbed to over 100 articles, and I am sure it will climb higher over the next few weeks.

The trauma center has given me opportunity to interact with professionals across the trauma field, from psychologists to fellow volunteers, to people working the public relations front. I am learning a lot about each of these sectors and how they interact to form a complete organization aimed at preventing, treating, and building resilience to trauma. I have tracked my progress in this area by the amount and length of interactions I have had with the various professionals at the Center.

My personal goals are probably the area where I have met with the most success so far. With such kind people, I see more and more why I love my time at the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma alone. For example, last week we held a fund raiser and I was assigned the role of “camera guy.” I knew a little about film, thanks to a class offered at Brandeis University, but I still had trouble with the technology. The ICTP staff’s response was immediate, and they offered not only help but feedback that was constructive and positive. They also drove me part-way back home, even though we finished our day’s work after 10:00 P.M. that night.


Photo Credit: Amos Nachoum

I think I am most proud of the fact that I have come to a place that affords me not only the type of career I want to have, but the type of individual I want to be: professional yet humble, conservative with evidence yet open-minded to creative ideas for trauma interventions. I have worked and wished for years for a place where I could find even one of these. Now that I have both, I feel that a serene sense of balance has taken over.

My work at the trauma center has helped me build new skills in storytelling through video, helped me improve my Hebrew, allowed me to work on research skills, honed my filming skills originally learned at at a class at Brandeis, and has bolstered my ability to pitch ideas. My improved Hebrew will also help me with my coursework, as I intend on taking at least one Hebrew course in addition to the amount required. My film skills will help me secure other ways of helping out at future events of the trauma center, and will also help me in searching for jobs that require a variety of skills. Lastly, to build a career in research, or even to give myself a voice in any campus, being able to effectively pitch and communicate my ideas will be an invaluable skill.


Photo Credit: Amos Nachoum

– Rocky Reichman ’13