Student Spotlights: Summer Experiences and Opportunities

This summer, we asked students to give us an update on their summer plans. From experiential internships and jobs to fascinating research opportunities, our students were busy experiencing new things! Below you’ll find brief insights about their experiences. 


Alyssa Magliaro ’22

Major: Systems Biology
Organization: Beavers Northwest

Details of the internship.
Beavers Northwest is a small nonprofit based out of the greater Seattle area. This summer I and another intern are working to create a conservation management plan for Seattle Parks and Recreation as part of this organizations grant funding. We are also assisting in surveying wetlands, working with landowners and implementing a variety of nonlethal beaver management devices throughout this region. Additionally, I have wanted to explore science communication and am leading walks through one of our restoration sites and sending out biweekly newsletters.

Best experience?
We have been going out for field work every single week and that’s been lots of fun. My favorite thing so far though has probably been the nature walks, because we get to talk with people and see beavers! I am hoping to gain more knowledge about how to manage human wildlife conflict by talking to landowners and learning about the various policies impacting the work we do. I am also interested in science communication and hope by the end of this summer my written, verbal, and visual communication skills will be better than when I started.


Caleb Riggs ’23

Major: Astronomy and Education
Organization: Byrce Canyon National Park

Details of the internship.
Technically I’m working through the University of Utah, but basically I’m working as an interpretive ranger for the park, helping visitors find their way around the park and giving educational programs like constellation tours.

Best experience?
Talking to 500+ random strangers every week about astronomy, geology, ecology, etc. Also, sometimes I’ll get kids coming up who want to take part in the Junior Ranger activities and they’re always adorable 🙂


Winston Kam ’22

Major: Art History and Materials Science and Engineering

Details of the internship. 
This summer I am working at the Cleveland Museum of Art as a Conservation Frame Intern. I get to work with the conservation department on a bunch of different projects. My project this summer is specific to frame conservation where I am in the process of creating three frame liners. Liners are an in-between layer that situates a painting within a frame. Liners are important because often times the frames to paintings are not original therefore it ensures the painting doesn’t fall out of the frame or expose any gaps between the frame and painting. There are three liners that we are replacing are for works of art currently on display at the CMA so after this summer my work will (subtlety) be on display in the galleries.

Best experience?
When there is down time and there are special projects other labs in the conservation department come up I get the opportunity to join in. Every year the objects conservation lab cleans outdoor sculptures like the iconic Thinker statue located near the south entrance to the CMA. Climbing up the scaffolding to get up close and personal to the gigantic pondering figure to scrub the faded patina off was so surreal. I’ve seen the statue from far away and pass by it frequently when I go on runs so this experience was definitely one for the books.


Katherine (Kat) Walcott ’22

Major: Human Nutrition
Organization: True Friends

Details of the internship.
True Friends is a nonprofit agency that provides programs ranging from camp to respite to retreats to horse riding for individuals of all ages with disabilities. They are located in Minnesota, and have four main locations. As a Special Diets Kitchen Intern, I work in the kitchen at one of the locations, Camp Friendship in Annandale, where I develop alternative menus and prepare meals for campers with special diets. Special diets range from vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, and gluten free to various levels of the IDDSI spectrum (e.g. minced and moist, pureed, etc.) to low sodium, low sugar, diabetic, and more. In my role, I assist with meal preparation and work closely together with regular diets kitchen staff (and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) to ensure that campers and staff have 3 nutritious meals a day, 7 days a week. As well as developing alternative menus, I also communicate with caregivers about specifics required by their campers’ diets, and I answer plenty of questions about diets and products. As far as the actual cooking and providing food goes, I work either alone or with one other intern to prepare roughly 60 meals a day. In this role, I also make supply runs about once every other week to find niche products that fit certain diets.

Best experience?
The best experience so far has been getting to not only see how a conventional kitchen operates and get a behind the scenes look at things I’ve learned in my classes, but also to use the knowledge from those classes in the “real world.” I took NTRN 351: Foodservice Systems Management with Dr. Rosa Hand last semester, and it has been IMMENSELY helpful in this internship. In NTRN 351, we learned, among other things, a lot about menu planning and IDDSI. As one of only a few interns at this camp, I am often working alone or 1:1 with another intern to plan out weekly meals. At this camp, the interns hold the final decision in whether or not a pureed food is the right consistency, if a product is indeed gluten free (if it’s not labeled), if a food has been cross-contaminated, etc. What I have loved so much about these kinds of responsibilities is that I have the knowledge, thanks to CWRU and Dr. Hand, on how to execute these and can do so successfully.


Ellen Haag ’22

Major: Philosophy and Religious Studies
Organization: Spice Acres

Details of internship.
I work 20 hours a week and a local sustainable farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The farm is part of the Countryside Initiative program which rehabilitates and preserves farmlands and supports sustainable farm management and healthy land practices. My tasks range from germinating seeds in the greenhouse, harvesting greens in the tunnels to tilling fields and turning compost with a tractor.

Best experience?
The best experience I have had during the internship so far would be the progress of the pumpkin field. The field was overrun with weeds and needed a tremendous amount of work. Over the span of a few weeks, we were able to completely revive the soil and create an ideal environment for the pumpkins to grow through direct seeding. Now, the field is filled with hundreds of tiny, healthy pumpkin plants. I don’t think anything can beat the feeling of watching your hard work come to life.


Research Opportunities

Colin Smith ’23

Major: Chemistry and Environmental Studies

Details of the research opportunity.
Analyzing the biogeochemical processes with Dr. Mark Green at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest to establish a connection between climate change and the ability of northern hardwood forests to act as carbon sinks.

Best experience?
This experience is both exciting and enlightening. Watching the forest function through biogeochemical data offers an extremely interesting perspective in ecosystem services and their relationship to climate.


Sarah Hoffman ’22

Major: Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism
Organization: The Cardiovascular Research Institute at CWRU

Details of the research opportunity.
I am studying the role of the NOTCH pathway in vascular physiology. I perform small vessel wire myography and pressure myography to identify how various components of the pathway act to enhance or inhibit vasoconstriction/vasodilation. I am also playing a small role on another project in the lab investigating how the NOTCH pathway is involved with angiogenesis and recovery from hypoxia. For that project I have excised muscle from mice from a hind limb ischemia model and am planning to do immunohistochemistry on the muscle to test for VEGF and NOTCH signaling molecules.

Best experience?
I adore my lab and thoroughly enjoy doing procedures for lab.


Beatriz Feijo ’22

Major: Biology
Organization: Dr. Solomon’s Lab at CWRU

Details of the research opportunity.
My project is centered around hypoxia. I perform Western Blots on cell samples that have been put under hypoxic conditions in order to analyze the effects of hypoxia on these cells. Specifically, I am looking for the changes in leukotriene signaling caused by hypoxia and oxidative stress.

Best experience?
Great! I have learned so much about not only lab techniques, but also resiliency. Things in the lab don’t always work out, so I’ve gained a lot from being patient and problem solving in order to get viable results.


Ayush Vyas ’23

Major: Neuroscience
Organization: Stanford University School of Medicine, Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences (CIBSR)

Details of the research opportunity.
I am working with Dr. Stephanie Balters to study the interbrain synchrony between dyads who interact over zoom versus who interact in person through the use of a fNIRS hyperscanning device. fNIRS is a non-invasive neuro imaging technology which used infrared light to measure subcortical brain activity while participants engage in a conversation tasks. My role included setting up the 32×32 fNIRS cap which we use and is the only such kind which is portable in the world. Additionally I helped design and run the experiments. After returning to campus this fall I will continue my work remotely, helping to analyze the research data and publishing our findings.

Best experience?
My experience has been truly unbelievable as I have learned so much in an incredibly short amount of time. Working with such expensive and complicated neuro-imaging equipment has been fascinating and exciting. I have also enjoyed working with the research participants as well as the connections I have made within the School of Medicine at Stanford. Everyone who I have worked within the department has taken the time to mentor me which has made my research experience at Stanford this summer very enjoyable.


Melissa Phung ’23

Major: Biology and Cognitive Science
Organization: University of Washington School of Medicine—Department of Genome Sciences

Details of the research opportunity.
I am very lucky to be working jointly in the Shendure and Beliveau labs here at UW with access to amazing, cutting-edge genome sequencing technology. I am investigating a mouse line that is generally used by scientists because of the way its cells are visualized beautifully under a microscope. This is due to fluorescent proteins present on each of the mouse’s cellular membranes. Using RNA sequencing technology, one is able to glean a huge amount of information about the mouse’s genetic code with amazingly high throughput. My question is regarding whether or not we can consider these mice comparable to “normal” mice (aka mice without the fluorescent proteins), as scientists operate under the assumption that they are and use them instead because of their nicely delineated cells. If the results of the sequencing show that they are genetically very similar to the “normal” mice, then that is great! If they are different though, maybe that calls for a re-evaluation on how these mice are used in science.

Best experience?
My experience so far has been amazing. Everyone is so kind, patient and supportive. I have been learning many valuable things about everyday life in the lab and new scientific techniques. Practicing my scientific reading, writing, and presentation skills has been extremely gratifying – I get to present the progress on my work in lab meeting every week, receive feedback, and read some really interesting papers that are relevant to the work I’m doing. I also hope to be able to put my findings and interpretations into a publication in the future. As an undergraduate student, my goal has been to go to medical school and become a physician but now with my wonderful experiences in the laboratory both at CWRU and UW, I have been inspired to change my trajectory and pursue an MD-PhD dual degree and become a physician-scientist!


Emily Dexter ’23

Major: Biology and Spanish
Organization: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Details of the research opportunity.
Examining the molecular mechanisms between bcl-2 interacting killer (Bik) protein and viral proteins of influenza strain.

Best experience?
Great! It has helped me learn invaluable skills that are fundamental in a career in molecular biology research.


Claire Keanna ’22

Major: Biology and Sociology

Details of the research opportunity.
I am a participant in Mayo Clinic’s SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) program, in which undergrads from across the country are matched into research labs. I am working at Mayo’s Rochester, Minnesota campus for 8 weeks in a B-cell leukemia lab, studying the role of regulatory T cells as a prognostic indicator.

Best experience?
I’ve had the most incredible experience out here. It’s a great mix of getting hands-on training as well as flexibility/time to explore the area and network. I’ve met so many amazing people, both within Mayo and in my cohort of peers.


Jobs and Volunteering

Aislyn Papworth ’24

Major: Biology and Biochemistry
Organization: Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO

What do you do?
I work in the COVID-19 ICU as an Urgent Care Technician (rotating ventilators and helping nurses). I also work in the COVID-19 vaccine clinic giving first and second doses of Pfizer and Moderna. I got the job after finishing my EMT-B certification and applying online.



Madison Warner ’22

Major: Biology and Political Science
Organization: Vet Hospital

What do you do?
I am a veterinary technician—the equivalent of a nurse for pets. I am pre-vet, so I want to learn about the day to day life in a vet hospital.




Chloe Van Dorn ’22

Major: Psychology
Organization: Sea Cliff Yacht Club

What do you do?
I am a sailing instructor I have been sailing since I was six years old and coaching since I was 17. I love sailing and being on the water, so it makes me so happy to share my passion with others. I coach sailors ages 7-12.



Camille Witt ’22

Major: Theater and Sociology
Organization: National Queer Theater

What do you do?
I served as the Digital Marketing Coordinator for our flagship event, the Criminal Queerness Festival! I was an intern August 2020-May 2021 and was promoted to this position in June.