A Postcard From: Shelby Hoogland ’19

When I first moved back to Mystic, Conn., I already had a preconceived notion of what my summer was going to look like after having spent the past semester with the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program. My best friend from the program was going to be my roommate, I would be living in the same student houses, and I would be working with the same professors who had traveled with me from sailing offshore in the Caribbean Sea aboard the S/V Corwith Cramer to hearing how climate change is affecting the lives and the history of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians.

If you know nothing about Williams-Mystic, know that the 30 other people that you get thrown together with, students and faculty, for a semester will become your family. Having already had these important connections with Dr. Tim Pusack, my former marine ecology professor and current research mentor, and with Dr. Rachel Scudder, my former oceanography professor and another current research mentor, made me more confident that this would be the summer where I grow into my new position in life as a field ecologist and as a research scientist.

Shelby Hoogland in field

Carcinus maenas, European Shore Crab: invasive species to the Long Island Sound.

Invasive species pose one of the largest threats to biodiversity worldwide. Additionally, this group of organisms can alter an ecosystem’s characteristics and local populations of native species. These alterations can have negative impacts on local industries like commercial fishing and tourism which directly impact local economies. C. maenas is an introduced crab species originally from coastal Europe that was potentially brought over in the fouling or bored into a wooden ship in the 1800s. The area that I have been studying is Avery Point, Conn., on the University of Connecticut-Avery Point’s campus. Although there are many different crabs that are found in this rocky intertidal ecosystem, the shoreline is dominated by C. maenas. It can be assumed that it is outcompeting native populations of crabs and other invasive species of crabs. In the lab, I am subjecting the crabs to temperatures between 12 dC and 31 dC to mimic the rising temperatures that will be present during the coming years due to climate change. I am measuring their stress responses as a direct representation of how much they are eating daily.

My research has brought me to some really cool places. I mean, how often can someone say that they get to go to the beach for their job? However, more importantly, it has taught me the importance of studying climate change. And it has given me important insight into the lack of knowledge about how climate change will affect vital ecosystems. Looking forward to the future, the uncertainty is high as to what our climate will be like. Additionally, we don’t exactly know how it is going to influence local economies. Funding climate change research is important so that we can better prepare our communities in the face of future disasters.

A Postcard From: Anna Huang ’19

This summer, I participated in the Clinical and Translational Science Award Internship program at the University of Pennsylvania, and I was matched to a lab studying the lipid metabolism and cardiovascular disease. My experiments use both GC-MS and mathematical model so that I could use skills and knowledge from both my chemistry and mathematics major. Basically, I am assessing the effects of a new drug on lowering lipid levels in patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, which means those patients have unusually high LDL-cholesterol level compared to normal person due to a rare genetic disease, and they do not respond to regular drugs to lower plasma lipid level like statins. Along the process, I understood more about how the education from BMC empowers me in the outside world.

I definitely benefited from the training for research I got in Bryn Mawr College. Back at Bryn Mawr College, I have been working with Dr. Monica Chander for almost two years. I think her strict requirements and guidance prepared me much better than other students from big universities. I am more confident in planning my experiments independently, conducting experiments efficiently and not making basic mistakes. Due to such efficiency and carefulness, I actually got three projects along my internship instead of the originally planned one from my mentors in UPenn.

Also, the close contact with professors in BMC helped me to understand more about establishing and maintaining the mentorship. One important thing I found in this internship is that a good mentorship is more precious than anything else. Before the internship started, I emphasized to my program director that the specific topic of the research is not very important to me at all but a good mentor matters. A good mentor can open the possibility of hundreds of fields to you. And luckily, as I required, my program director got me two really good mentors, who are willing to and feel the need to spend time with me. They respect my time and try to maximize my gaining. They do not only guide me in the lab, but also give advise my future and career goal. The atmosphere in Bryn Mawr teaches me not to be afraid of asking for support and opportunities. This is really useful in a big place like UPenn where there are a lot of opportunities around and you can only ask to grab them by yourself. With this in mind and good mentors, you can really get access to a lot of things. One of the mentors introduces me to some other clinicians and let me shadow the clinical part of the research so that I can understand the whole picture of translational research. The other mentor found me some more projects that I can work on and introduces me to know about other people’s research in the lab. My life is much more colorful than I expected it to be and I enjoy it a lot.

I still have a month left for this internship and I believe that I will enjoy it. I hope what I gained from this summer will accompany me for the rest of the college life.

A Postcard From: Elizabeth McGuire ’20

Name: Elizabeth McGuire
Class Year: 2020
Major: Anthropology and Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Hometown: Veazie, Maine
Internship Placement: Transylvania Bioarchaeology
Job Title: Student
Location: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

What’s happening at your internship? 

My field school is currently working in Jucu on a rescue excavation. Although the land is protected, companies are developing the land and the construction is subsequently destroying the burials. This summer, we have been working to recover the remains and associated material culture.

Dig site in Transylvania

Students participating in this program alternate weeks on site and in lab. At the beginning of the field season, we spent the majority of our time on site doing heavy excavation using mattocks (similar to pick axes) and shovels to get down to the archaeological layer. That proved to be very difficult! After mattocking back a layer, we would use trowels to clean the area and look for signs of grave cuts and fill. Once the layer had been identified we began fine excavation using trowels, brushes, and small wooden tools to carefully uncover the individual buried below.

On lab days, we start with lectures on topics ranging from human osteology, archaeological theory, and paleopathology. Students taking part in this program have varying levels of experience and are at different points in their education, so lectures are crucial at getting everyone on the same page. As the youngest and least experienced student here, I definitely appreciate them! After lecture, we spend time in the lab applying what we have learned, including identifying pathology and determining age and sex of fragmented skeletal remains.

Archaeology students

Why did you apply for this internship?

After taking Professor VanSickle’s bioarchaeology class last year, I discovered my interest in biological anthropology and how it relates to archaeology. It was important to me that I spent some time this summer becoming more familiar with the discipline in order to make more informed decisions about graduate school. As a Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology major, I have taken a lot of classes that focus on material culture, so it has been interesting to study the primary sources that inform our understanding of the past—the people themselves. There is a lot that we can learn from them!

This program has given me exactly what I was looking for—proper field training, a crash course in human osteology, and experience handling and analyzing fragmentary remains. Although it is difficult to identify bone fragments first, it is important to practice doing so. More often than not, fragments are recovered rather than perfectly preserved bone. It has also been great to talk to professionals in this program about how they chose their areas of focus.

Learn more about Bryn Mawr’s Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology Department.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

Living in Cluj has been amazing! The program accommodations are about a 25-30 minute walk to the main square—the city center.  I have been enjoying trying out different coffee shops with some new friends before lecture on lab days. We recently discovered iced lavender lattes and have been hooked ever since!

There has been a city sponsored event every weekend we have been here, including Jazz in the Park, the Street Food Festival, and most recently Electric Castle.

The program also takes us on a short field trip throughout Transylvania, highlights including Brasov, Sibiu, and of course, Sigisoara, the birthplace of Dracula.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

Learning objectives of this program include becoming familiar with methods of skeletal analysis and assessing their strengths and weaknesses, identifying and recording pathological conditions, and practicing proper methods of excavation. Before coming to this field school, I had limited experience with archaeological excavations and no experience working with fragmented bone. This has been an incredible experience overall! I have learned so much over the past five weeks and I am looking forward to applying these skills in my praxis next semester.

Elizabeth McGuire digging at site

Another important aspect of this program have been our discussions about bioarchaeological theory and ethical considerations. Although we can learn a lot from the human skeleton, there are limitations to our methods. We have to be careful about making assumptions about individuals past activities and lifestyles because we should not be giving them new identities. I think one of the most important things that I will take away from this experience is knowing what we can learn from archaeological remains and what we cannot. That knowledge is going to help me critically approach bioarchaeological research and literature in the future.

Learn more about praxis courses.

A Postcard From: Katherine Sweasy ’20

My internship has been spent learning about brain cell structure, and how it relates to schizophrenia. I have been spending my time analyzing brain cell images at the Kwan lab in the department of Psychiatry at Yale University.  I’ve been a psychology major since the beginning of my time at college, but only this year have realized my interest in neuroscience. More specifically within neuroscience, I wanted to learn about neuronal structure and development, and thus sought out to do so in a research setting.

My primary task has been to analyze the brain images of several different mice with differing experimental manipulations. The lab utilizes ketamine with the animals, as there is literature to suggest its efficacy as a model for understanding schizophrenia in regards to cellular function, as well as modeling observable symptoms that, when injected with ketamine, are similar to Schizophrenia in humans. This being said, the injection of ketamine in order to study it’s impact on brain activity is utilized as an experimental manipulation.

There are also certain groups that have a genetic manipulation, such as a SHANK3 gene mutation. This mutation is used due to its significance to Schizophrenia: although it cannot be considered the primary cause of Schizophrenia, this gene that is responsible for building a protein that aids in neuron development and mutation of this gene hugely increases a diagnosis for schizophrenia. In light of this, animals with this mutation are valuable to study.

The data was collected in vivo, advantageously allowing for the brain activity to be observed as the animal was present and alive. This brain activity was visualized for the eye to see by using protein calcium sensors, called GCaMP6 that indicated brain activity when injected into the brain. More specifically, the sensors detect the calcium released when neurons ‘fire’. My task has been to look at these in vivo brain images through a program in Matlab (see the image below for an example of what the images look at and how they are set up for analysis).

As I go through the frames of these images, I indicate the neuronal spines that are located near the dendrites, the long white branches in the images. As a brain cell activates, the GCaMP6 makes the dendrites and it’s accompanying spine ‘light up’ when its visualized. These are both important parts of the neuron, and play a role in the dysfunction of brain communication in Schizophrenia.

As an additional task, I also get some experience in brain histology. I occasionally prepare brain tissue by slicing preserved mouse brains and mounting them on slides. These are to be imaged later. This experience has given me a valuable understanding of the skills need in research, especially in a neuroscience laboratory. It requires a combination of technical skills as well as critical thinking of the project. I’ve been able to gain skills to function independently, which has been very rewarding.

I am most grateful for what I have learned at this internship. I’ve learned about neuronal structure in a deeper capacity than I have in previous classes. Additionally, this experience has helped highlight the gaps in my knowledge pertaining to cell biology and has undoubtedly influenced further areas of study for me.

Diagram of Neuron

Diagram of Neuron


A Postcard From: Eunsoo Jang ’20

I’m a digital curriculum intern working under LITS. Throughout this internship, my partner and I have been taking on three projects. One of them is helping one of the economics professors with making Moodle lessons. From this project, we’ve been learning a lot about what goes on in the back end of Moodle. It’s very interesting because as BMC students, we also use Moodle, but we never see the back end of Moodle. I probably would not have been able to have the experience of that if it weren’t for this project. Also, through this project, I learned to do a lot about troubleshooting because everything was very new to me.

The next project that I’m working on involves the BMC library scavenger hunt. Because there was a lot of problems with accessibility in the previous one, our project was to make an augmented reality scavenger hunt. So we are using software called Aris to help us make this AR scavenger hunt. In this game, we mostly use QR codes. People who have iOS devices can use their own, but otherwise will have to borrow one of the iPods from the library. They will use the iOS device to download the app, Aris, and will go around the library to complete the missions in the game. Also there will be iBeacons that will help them learn information about each floor in the library. While we were making this game, we were deciding which colored paper we would use to put the QR codes. So we put different colored paper in the office where I work with interns, and they voted for what they liked. And the last two candidates were pink and yellow. Below is a picture that shows this.

QR Codes for Scavenger Hunt

Learn more about the scavenger hunt for BMC libraries.

The third project that I’m working on is making interactive content with the topic of digital competencies. The BMC digital competencies are very useful tools for BMC students, but many students don’t know about it. I took a lot of time learning the digital competencies myself and started trying out different ways to make content about digital competencies that could be active and fun. The one my partner and I decided on doing was making an interactive video. The interactive video is about learning all the digital competencies and reflecting on what kind of skills the person has gained or would like to gain in the future. We used a website called Biteable which we used for putting in animations for the video. Learn more about digital competencies.

This internship reminded me of my BMC academic semesters because there was a lot of multitasking to do. I’ve learned so much about communication and reflective practice and am still learning many more things as a digital curriculum intern. I am hoping that this experience would not only help me with my future after graduation, but during my remaining BMC years.

A Postcard from: Amanda Santiago ’19

Name: Amanda Santiago
Class Year: 2019

Internship Placement: Camp Voyager YMCA Summer Camp
Location: Dover, Del.

Over the past six weeks I have been a camp counselor at Camp Voyager, one of my local YMCA summer camps, in Dover, Del. The YMCA summer camps are a great place for children to spend their summers because they can participate in the following activities:

  • Swimming lessons twice a week
  • Daily swim time
  • A daily lunch and snack
  • Science and nature classes, arts and crafts, and archery lessons
  • Performing arts classes
  • Weekly trips
  • An opportunity to socialize and interact with children in their age groups

I have to admit, it has not been easy; it has taken a lot of adjusting to a brand-new environment. I have worked in school settings before, but never with 150 kids at once. Just as when I arrived at Bryn Mawr, when I arrived to my first day of camp, I was surrounded with a bunch of people from different places with whom I would be working with on a daily basis.

At the beginning, I found it very hard to find a way to fit myself into the children’s lives in order to both implement camp rules and curriculum and make my own observations for my research. A lot of the children at camp come from “unconventional” families, and they have many trust issues with authority figures, and they saw me as another person who wanted them to follow the rules. In the long run, I had to wait for the kids to open up to me. This allowed me to see the importance that camp has for these children. I thought of it as a place parents could leave their kids for the day while they went to work; however, for a good number of the children at camp, it was much more than that: they saw camp as a place where they were safe during the day, a place where they could be children, and not have to worry about issues at home, as well as a place where they didn’t have to think about their next meal.

At camp, all campers are given a free lunch and snack in the afternoon provided by the state of Delaware. They are allowed to take any leftovers home with them. After a couple of conversations with some of the children at camp, I learned that lunch at camp was the only meal they would have until dinner because their parents didn’t have time to prepare breakfast for them or didn’t have the items to make them something. These conversations broke my heart because as a child I was always very blessed to have every meal every day, but for these children, food wasn’t a daily privilege.

This has impassioned me even more to want to purse a career as a social worker. A lot of the campers need help in small ways: they need someone to listen to them and talk to them, and they need help with bigger issues, like needing someone to fight for them, so that their basic needs are met every day. The YMCA is a nonprofit organization that could use a lot more help than what they are given now. Camps could use a breakfast program and a copious amount of materials to better provide for other children. Please consider looking up your local YMCA and finding a way that you can help make a difference in a child’s life.

A Postcard From: Aubrey Donisch ’20

Name: Aubrey Donisch
Class Year: 2020
Major: Dance and Sociology
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.

Internship Placement: Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts
Job Title: Summer Intern and Assistant Teacher
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.

Hello hello from the hot, high desert!

It’s been a great five weeks so far at Keshet (a seemingly popular name for many internship opportunities for BMC students this summer!)—a non-profit center for dance and the arts. Keshet works with the Albuquerque community in several different ways: As a professional company, they employ professional dance artists for performance opportunities, as a studio they work with all ages and abilities, and as educators, they teach movement curriculums in Albuquerque’s juvenile justice facilities.

I have been working on research projects involving the M3 curriculum as well as organizing and compiling national, state, and county juvenile justice data. I have also been working on outreach projects for an Arts and Juvenile Justice Convening happening in August and hosted by Keshet.

In addition to this office work, I have been able to do something that I really love: teach dance.

Keshet is in Summer Camp mode right at the moment, and I’ve taught a modern dance to 14 6- through 8-year-olds. Together, we created a piece that was performed at the end of their camp week. I was told by one of the students that it was “the hardest piece they had to do all week,” so I’m glad I was able to give them a challenge. There was much jumping, leaping, rolling, negative space statues, and imagery of monkeys picking fruit—it was really fun to make.

I was also able to teach some All Abilities/Adaptive dance classes in Farmington, N.M. I went on a three-hour excursion through the mountains with another Keshet teacher, and the mix of dance and incredible scenery really made the weekend special.

I ended up at Keshet through a series of serendipitous events, but mainly because I love dance and arts communities that are truly inclusive and active in community-building and social justice. Keshet’s M3 program, working in juvenile justice facilities and their practice of dance for all abilities shows, to me, the true potential and impact of the arts. Keshet is also very similar to the organization I danced with in Minneapolis from the age of eight, Young Dance, and so it’s very interesting for me to be able to compare and contrast, to learn and to give input.

The biggest challenge:

The totally new location (where’s the water??? I mean, yes the Rio Grande is here and the Sandia Mountains are gorgeous but … I miss lakes, my friends). I’ve never been to Albuquerque, so the elevation, culture, weather, and arts scene adjustment has been pretty … a lot. Not to mention being on my own. It is definitely growing on me. And I would not change anything because being here is just as much a part of my internship with Keshet as being in the office and the studio.

I am learning so much about communication—I am actively trying to up my game in the asking questions department, in feeling confident teaching or instructing, even in having everyday conversations with the staff. Because I’m pushing myself in this way, I’m meeting so many people, creating my own little system of support in this new place.

I love watching the dancers make movement transformations, make discoveries about dance and their bodies and their peers while moving. I’m learning how to combine my interests, passions, and skills. Dance can be a foundation for so many aspects of education and development, which I love and can’t wait to explore more of.

It’s a hard summer, but a good summer!

A Postcard From: Amy Young ’19

Internship Placement: Philadelphia VIP

If someone asked me to describe my childhood, I would say that philanthropy was at the heart of it. Whether I was offering my time through community service or giving monetary donations to charities that my church supported, I was always encouraged to give what I had. As well as being involved in the church, and charitable organizations like Girl Scouts and the National Honor Society, by the time I was 18, I had lived in 10 different places, spanning states, countries, and continents. This particular aspect of my childhood exposed me to an array of cultures, governments, and economic structures; therefore, I learned at an early age that need was everywhere. It did not take long for me to understand why generosity was so important.

However, during my sophomore year at Bryn Mawr College, my understanding of philanthropy changed. I can recall the excitement hanging in the air that fall semester. All around me, women were lively and carefree; we made fun of the ridiculous things we heard on Fox News and we were eager for the moment we could finally exclaim that this country was being headed by a woman. Finally, America was progressing. Yet, as much as I remember that fleeting, hopeful sentiment, what overshadows it is the shock, despair, and fear that my community and I felt the early morning of Nov. 9, 2016. What unfolded in the following months was a change in my spirit. Suddenly, I was being forced to come to terms with the kind of dismal future that my mother and her family would face as immigrants from Ecuador. I would be forced to watch as my white, wealthy father would continue to prosper while my low-income mother, with whom I had never lived, would potentially lose everything for which she had worked incredibly hard.

What was happening? How did this happen? Why was there so much selfishness and hatred?

I had so many questions. I cried for days and I prayed for weeks. I brooded with anger and I protested when I could. I disowned my religion and devoted myself to compassion, truth, and education. I was not going to sit by and do nothing as the lives of millions of people were now in the hands of a spray-tanned, narcissistic demagogue.

Queue Philadelphia VIP. When I began looking for summer internships, prioritizing a philanthropic cause, I noticed this nonprofit. Their slogan is “since 1981, the hub of pro bono legal services in Philadelphia” and their mission is preventing homelessness, stabilizing families, preserving income, and promoting community economic development for families and individuals who are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. I was determined to be a part of that cause and I am proud to say that I now am. While I am gaining valuable knowledge and skills at VIP, I love being able to fundraise for, plan events for, and market an organization with such a morally upright purpose. Everyday, I witness a group of inspiring people fight against powerful corporations, laws, and individuals to maintain access to justice; no matter how discouraging this world can be, my coworkers’ persistence teaches me about not just generosity, but perseverance.

Through politics, faith, and the recognition and valuation of my heritage, I have come to realize that philanthropy is not just a moral obligation of mine, it is my purpose.

A Postcard From: Alexis Giron ’20

Sadie Nash Leadership Project group picture

This diverse group of young, powerful women and trans/gender non-conforming folks have provided so much for me this summer. Entering Sadie Nash Leadership Project, I was not sure what to expect. This is the first time that Sadie Nash uses an intern at the Newark, N.J., site, so I was nervous of being seen as small or an unimportant part of the team or even trying to fit in. Let me tell you, that is DEFINITELY NOT the case! Sadie Nash reminds me of my small Bryn Mawr community. We cover pronouns, diversity, empowerment, etc. I wonder where I’ve heard that before?

The staff have been nothing but wonderful to me. Often times, they thank me and make me feel like one of the most valuable parts of our day-to-day operations. Whether it’s fixing the printer, creating spreadsheets, scanning documents or posting flyers of our events, the staff makes me feel like my work is the best product it can be, because I have worked hard to create these products.

Now, besides all the boring stuff, I have gotten the opportunity to connect with Nashers in a very beautiful way. Most of the time, they have been helping me! Hyping up my style and hair-dos, my creativity, and most commonly, my eyebrows, these Nashers make me feel so confident in myself. One Nasher continuously checks in with me throughout the day, once telling me they “hope to grow up and be like me” (although they are only a couple years younger than me). This Nasher is also a Nasher that I gave the tour to, that helped me learn about this internship, so we go a bit back. Additionally, the deans are so loving and caring. I’ve actually been able to think of them as my friends, rather than just my coworkers.

This place is beautiful and I’m beginning to really fall in love with it.

A Postcard from: Aldercy Lam ’19

Every morning, I am encouraged to take a moment to think about how I am feeling, why I feel that way, and what I can do to feel my best. Whether it be working out, getting another hour of sleep, or getting a meal with friends before going into the office, this internship is untraditional in the best sense possible. I stumbled upon this organization while I was searching for an internship to do this summer, however, I didn’t expect that I would get way more than a position to put on my resume.

Laptop computer on desk

In the past, I’ve had amazing experiences with nonprofit organizations before, I did things that I loved and I met a lot of people, but in this position I was able to combine my knack for nonprofit work with a special focus on my own growth. My experience this summer has been incredibly transformative. As a rising senior, I’ve been able to appreciate and fully take advantage of the professional and personal growth opportunities this internship has provided me with.

This organization I am working with is called Calm Clarity. It is a social enterprise with a nonprofit side. The founder, who is my supervisor for the summer, uses this organization to teach people about the benefits of mindfulness and how we can utilize being mindful to overcome obstacles in our lives. After quitting a successful role in consulting, she went through a long journey of spiritual awakening, and brought back the idea of Calm Clarity to share with as many people as possible. In addition to founding this organization, she recently published a book in the spring about her story and her teachings.

I feel extremely lucky because I’ve not only attended a Calm Clarity retreat and read the book, but I’ve also been able to gain so much wisdom from the guidance of my supervisor. It’s been inspirational to work with someone successful who comes from a background that is similar to mine. It isn’t often that I meet a Vietnamese-Chinese woman who has made it out of the low-income neighborhoods of Philadelphia.

The work I’ve been doing this summer is focused on the nonprofit side of the organization. Besides from marketing these Mindfulness retreats to professionals, Calm Clarity has a College Scholars Program where they invite first-generation and low-income college students to attend at no cost. As a College Scholar myself, I’ve been working on reviewing and expanding the program by interviewing past college scholars, going through feedback surveys, and getting in contact with universities that may want to collaborate with Calm Clarity. Additionally, I’ve been figuring out ways to improve the social media use of Calm Clarity in order to support College Scholar Alumni and target more students to join. If you’re reading this, follow Calm Clarity on Instagram and Twitter! I promise there will be more content soon. Another exciting project I’m working on is figuring out how to bring Calm Clarity on campus, so be on the lookout for mindfulness clubs and flyers on campus!