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Internships Strengthen STEM Skills

Internships Strengthen STEM Skills

Meredith College senior Rimsha Afzal is spending her summer at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Marlene and Stewart Greenbaum Cancer Center, in Baltimore, Md., as a student intern.

This is Afzal’s second summer as an intern in the Nathan Schnaper Cancer Research Internship Program. This year, her project involves identifying how the activation of a gene present in many cancers, known as Myc, can lead to genomic instability.

Afzal is earning a double major in biology and theatre at Meredith. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school, and hopes to work in the field of oncology.

“The internship program was very appealing to me because it not only gave me a chance to work on basic research in a lab, but I got the chance to shadow many medical professionals at the University of Maryland outpatient cancer center,” Afzal said. “These physicians specialized in several types of cancers (solid tumors and blood cancers) so getting a good taste of everything was fascinating. With it being my second year here, I have also been able to network extensively.”

Afzal is just one of many Meredith College students completing STEM internships this summer.

Senior Elizabeth Marshall is doing a research internship at a biomedical engineering lab at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her projects involve using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to study the characteristics of the vertebrae and proximal tibia in mice flown on space shuttles, which exposes them to a microgravity environment which causes osteoporosis in bones.

The internship has taught Marshall valuable skills to help reach her career goals.

“This internship has exposed me to the research environment and taught me how to think critically about data I see,” Marshall said. “I think in my career it will give me a more agile and forward thinking mind, as well as prepare me for any research I may want to pursue as a physician.”

Senior Elizabeth Jaimes has an internship at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health in the Nutrition Department, on a project that deals with the connection between macrophage-driven inflammation and obesity.

Jaimes said she became interested in a research internship after enjoying Biochemistry I and II lab courses, her favorite classes at Meredith. “My goal is to attend pharmacy school in the future, and I hope this will help to make me a competitive candidate,” Jaimes said. “I'm also considering the option of working in the science industry for a few years before enrolling in pharmacy school, and this internship is teaching me lots of useful lab skills.”

Other students are working as interns in public health at the Carolina Population Center working on Maternal and Child Health research, and the South Carolina Migrant Health Program. Twenty students received stipends to work with Meredith College faculty members on undergraduate research projects through Meredith’s Summer Research Partnership Program. This program includes STEM research as well as research in the humanities and social sciences.

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