By Sebastian Sak ‘16, Tufts University ‘20
The Schuler Scholar Program is a great springboard to prepare for life after high school. This summer I had the opportunity to participate in a research internship at Northwestern University in Chemical and Biological Engineering. This internship was exclusive to Schuler Scholars. One high school Scholar and one College Scholar were given the chance to work in a graduate lab and expand their knowledge and skills in the STEM field. I was selected as the Maine East Scholar to submit my application. After passing the initial round, I had to go through an interview. I felt confident throughout the application process because of the tips Schuler had provided in regards to filling out applications and preparing for interviews.
Being new to research, I had many new things to learn and become familiar with. I first had a lot of new terminology to learn. In research, there is a lot of literature to read from previous studies that have been done on the subject. Another task was meeting weekly with the Principle Advisor, the professor that proposes new research and applies for grants. We would inform him of our progress and he would teach us a few things to help. Our work involved researching Acinetobacter baylyi, a common soil bacteria, to understand natural transformation. Natural transformation is a bacteria’s ability to uptake DNA without the use of chemicals or electroshock. Daily tasks included growing cultures, performing the transformation, working with data, calculating statistics and learning other lab techniques.
Overall this experience was invaluable to me. Through this internship I learned lab skills that most freshmen going into college would not have. The experience of working in this lab will be a huge advantage in searching for other research opportunities. This experience has also helped me network and it is important to have great people, such as those that I met at Northwestern, that can help me out. Opportunities like these are hard to discover and I am very grateful for the support Schuler has given me.