We're a little crazy, about science!

The last day of summer internship

Today marks the big day! It’s the last day of the summer internship at the hospital and the two individuals we got to work with over the summer are about to present their final work. It is going to be a busy day for everyone involved, myself included. Since I haven’t got to talk about our interns this year, I thought it would be great to go over some of the stuff we did with them.

The summer internship program at the hospital is absolutely amazing. You get the chance as someone who’s early in their education to do research and learn about topics they may have only previously read about or maybe even never heard of. Our lab for example is one of a handful that looks at non-invasive spinal cord stimulation and our interns had an interest in neuroscience and neurorehabilitation, so they got paired with us. Others want to do work in a wetlab, or other types research. There’s a broad range of topics we research at the hospital, so there’s a lot of opportunity to learn about new things. The program consists of people ranging from still finishing high school all the way up to first few years in medical school, so as diverse a group as the research we do.

Our interns this year got lucky because we had a bunch of different projects in various stages of completion that they could select from to participate in. And when I say participate, I mean it. They had a chance to help collect data, setup for the experiments, and even do basic data analysis. Near the end of the program they get the chance to present their work to the department via powerpoint presentation and talk about some of the things they learned. Lastly, today they get the chance to present their poster to anyone attending the conference. Awards are given out to top poster presenters for each group of people presenting.

For example my group is grad students/postdocs/trainees and we have our own section for awards. The summer interns get a group for themselves, and last year we actually had one of our interns win an award for best poster. I don’t expect to win anything and I wouldn’t be surprised if our interns didn’t win either, it’s a tough competition and there’s a lot of very experienced people who get ranked next to people still in high school for example. But in any case, it’s just fun to participate and you never know who will win, you would be surprised how often the undergrad or high school students get selected over the med school students for presentations. So really it’s not what you know, but how you present it.

Like previous years once the conference ends, our internship is over and we will probably not get to see our interns again. But we all hope that the experience has made a positive impact on them and I do look forward to the program every year. It makes me extremely happy that people want to be involved in research or just want to learn more about it. I’m especially impressed when we get the high school students (this year I know of at least one), because it’s just amazing they are thinking that far ahead. I was not that put together in high school!

It’s a bit sad to see our interns leave us, but that’s how the program goes. Next year we’ll be getting more (assuming there isn’t a third or fourth pandemic going on…) and I’m hoping that they will have the same positive experience that this years group did. Of all the things I do, mentoring is probably my favorite.

On a different note, today is not one, but two conferences that I will be attending. One in person (the hospital side) and one virtually (the school side). I made a video presentation for the school side and it took roughly as long as I expected it to, about 2.5 hours to film a ~5 minute presentation… ugh. Oh and I have a surprise experiment today on top of everything else, so that is… fun? I’ll miss the awards announcements for the hospital conference, but like I said earlier I doubt I’ll be selected so it shouldn’t matter too much. I’m not saying that to be self deprecating, it’s just our research is unique even in the hospital, so not a lot of people understand the work and that does impact decisions when you’re being rated on significance and such.

4 responses

  1. How big is your hospital – as in, about how many employees, in how many labs? I remember once you said something like “X people are out of work sick right now” and I was stunned by how large X was, so clearly I don’t have a great idea of how many people are participating in this conference.

    I guess the very idea of one hospital having an internal conference blows my mind a little bit. In a company like mine (~500 employees, if you just consider us and ignore our large corporate owner), teams tend to know some things about what other teams are doing by osmosis.

    Mentoring is good. I’ve been enjoying the chance to help bring the new hire who was assigned to me at work up to speed.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 5, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    • Well the medical center is the largest in the world, so it’s big! From google, the combined organization has 106,000 employees, and 7.2 million annual visitors, on a 1,345-acre campus. Our hospital specifically has roughly 24,000 employees alone, so a pretty significant chunk.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying being a mentor! Speaking of which, you work hard, I’m glad they are finally recognizing you for it!

      Liked by 1 person

      August 6, 2022 at 10:08 am

      • Wow! I never would’ve thought. That is a lot of people under one umbrella.

        Thank you!! Supposedly part of the reason it took so long for me to get a mentee is that we were having trouble hiring people. The whole aerospace engineering sector has been pretty shorthanded and competitive (in favor of the employees) for the past ~5 years.

        Liked by 1 person

        August 6, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      • Yeah, it’s huge! I love having all those resources right there. We are even one of ~30 institutions that have a 7T MRI, which looks exactly like a 1.5 or 3T, but it’s super cool.

        That makes sense, you can’t mentor someone who is not hired yet! I’m surprised with all the new fun satellites and what not in the news lately aerospace isn’t more popular.

        Liked by 1 person

        August 7, 2022 at 11:47 am

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