We're a little crazy, about science!

Summer conference!

Add one more thing to my to-do list, but not in a bad way exactly. It’s summer time, which means it’s time for the annual summer conference we hold at work. This is an “internal” conference run by the hospital for all the students and summer interns we have. It’s fairly large and gives us all a chance to share our science and see what other labs are doing in the hospital. What’s nice is that this sometimes leads to really cool collaborations (we recently did one actually).

This year I’ll be presenting some work we’re finishing on dual paper. I had a choice of projects to select from, but since the due date for the abstract is very close, I opted for a project that was mostly done. There’s a few things I’ll need to do between now and then, but there’s a lot of other things going on so it will be tough to find a way to squeeze it all in.

What I’m really excited about though is the summer intern portion of the presentation. For those who’ve been around awhile, last year I had worked with an intern that was just starting college and felt incredibly overwhelmed. There was a bit of drama, but she finished strong and she felt good about the whole experience after the fact, which was the aim of the internship anway (more here).

The summer internship is a basically mentoring for us. It gives students starting out in college to get a chance to explore research in a clinical setting. Some of them are med students, some are undergrads, at least one is high school (very impressive). Currently I’m working with two students this year, mostly one, but they are both working with our lab as a whole so they get to work with different projects.

The interns we have this year are both undergrad, one is pre-med and the other is engineering. They both have already learned a lot and they’ve only been with us for about a month at this point. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been an incredibly busy summer for us, so they’ve got a lot of different projects they’ve had the chance to assist in and watch. They are in the same boat I’m in frankly, there’s a lot of different projects they’ve helped with that they could use for their presentations.

Every summer at the end of the internship we have a presentation by the interns to show what they’ve learned. They get a chance to do an actual presentation (like in front of people), they also have a poster presentation afterwards. There are even awards for best presentations, which is cool because last year one of our interns was awarded.

It’s all a fun experience and I’m hopeful that it gets people interested in research and in particular clinical research. I know that last year, the intern I worked with left with aspirations of becoming a nurse, which was awesome because she really felt like she didn’t belong when she started and even in the middle, but by the end she felt like she had a direction. Which is exactly the point of the internship, to give people confidence to explore new things and to show them what research is like.

While the conference I’m doing is separate from the intern conference, they both share the same function and the one I’m doing is about a week prior to the intern conference to give them an idea of what conferences look like.

In short, summer at the hospital is my favorite time of the year in the academic sense because of this internship program. If you’re a student (even high school in a lot of cases) I highly recommend looking out for them!


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