A Postcard From: Nozomi Park ’19

Name: Nozomi Park
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology and Linguistics

Internship Placement: Center for Autism Research, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Location: Philadelphia

Regardless of already starting my fourth week as an intern at the Center for Autism Research (CAR), the orientation from the first week is still clear in my memory. In order to help us better understand autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the other interns and I were encouraged to attend Next Steps as part of our orientation. Next Steps is a workshop through CAR, for both professionals working with those who have ASD and families of individuals with ASD. The workshop covered a variety of topics surrounding ASD such as the current understanding of what ASD is, current services and supports available to individuals with ASD and their families, and current ongoing research on ASD.

Coming from an academic background focused on psychology and education, I believed I already came into this internship with a firm understanding of ASD. At the time, I was more interested in the current research surrounding ASD because I understood that the tasks I would performing this summer would be more involved in that area. However, Next Steps exceeded my expectations, introducing panel speakers who were not only made up of clinical researchers, but also had speakers who were therapists, teachers, and family members who are constantly and directly involved with individuals who have ASD. The workshop was not only information-rich about ASD, but it was inspirational with genuine voices of individuals who have struggled with ASD and looked for better interventions to improve the life quality of individuals with ASD.

That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t already motivated to be an intern at CAR. I was initially interested in ASD because of the continuous encounters I have had with ASD from my past experiences in classrooms and programs dedicated to individuals with learning disabilities. Every day of the past three weeks have been interesting as I have had the opportunity to learn about different programs to input and analyze linguistic data such as ELAN and XTrans. These opportunities strongly link both cognition and language and have pushed me to apply the foundations I have built throughout the psychology and linguistic courses I had taken.

Nevertheless, meeting the individuals who were clearly connected to the research I would be involved in and listening to their stories at Next Steps has sparked my curiosity in learning about the faces behind the data that I would work with every day. Each individual that has participated in a CAR study can have their own encounters or lack of encounters with ASD that can be both different and relatable. While this isn’t a profound discovery that I recently found through ‘Next Steps’, the workshop has certainly personalized my expectations of my own internship experience. Most importantly, the workshop has encouraged me to build a network with the professionals at CAR and listen to the variety of perspectives of their different backgrounds with ASD. Attending Next Steps had helped me to better understand and conceptualize my role at CAR.

Learn more about ASD and current research on ASD through CAR’s website, which also offers resources such as Next Steps.

A Postcard From: Ruby Zeng ’20

Name: Ruby Zeng
Class Year: 2020
Major: Psychology and Music

Internship Placement: Music, Imaging, and Neural Dynamics (MIND) Laboratory
Location: Wesleyan University

As a psychology and music double major, I am very fortunate to be able to explore my interest in music psychology in the Music, Imaging, and Neural Dynamics (MIND) Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Psyche Loui, the Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at Wesleyan University. Working in the MIND Lab is a milestone for me to combine my interest in music cognition and practical research experience into one. This is my first time doing music psychology-related research after so many years of aspiration, and it is a great opportunity for me not only to apply my prudence, critical thinking, and research skills to help with the lab, but also to gain more insights on music cognition and neuroscience.

In general, the MIND lab seeks to understand the networks of brain structure and function that enable musical processes, such as auditory and multi-sensory perception, learning and memory of sound structure, sound production, and the human aesthetic and emotional response to sensory stimuli. Specifically, I’m responsible for helping with data processing and data analysis for the Jazz in Creativity Project. We try to unfold the neural processes and connectivity of different domains of the brain that enables creativity in humans by looking at the behavior in jazz improvisation. While there are many different components in the project, such as behavioral measures (e.g. pitch discrimination, divergent thinking) and neuroimaging analysis (e.g. EEG, MRI data), my main work is rating audio recordings of each trial of improvisation for creativity based on a given rubric. Apart from that, I am also helping with EEG data collections in another project that looks that the neural and behavioral representation of the Laurel-Yanny illusion. In addition, we have weekly lab meetings where lab members take turns to present a paper related to music cognition and together learn about cognitive neuroscience through discussion.

I’m glad that I get to experience the life of being a researcher—a life that has a routine, that has a goal to achieve every week and even every day, that is highly self-motivated, and that requires a long-term perspective to really enjoy the repetitive work and to endure times of frustration. Repeatedly listening to hundreds of audio recordings can be boring, but always keeping a bigger picture in mind, and thinking about how my efforts would contribute to the project and hopefully unfold some mysteries about human’s creativity makes me excited about every day’s work and want to know more about this subject. It also makes me realize how much I don’t know, what I need to know, and what I want to know.

Because most of my classes at Bryn Mawr have been social science and humanity, when it comes to hardcore science like neuroscience, physics, math, as well as computing, I have to do a lot of self-teaching and research to understand related concepts and apply them to my work. I also came to realize how useful programing skills are in terms of analyzing data in any kind of research. More importantly, I know I want to take more neuroscience classes at Bryn Mawr, which is a sub-field of psychology that I never thought I would be interested in. I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the internship; I look forward to learning more about this field and myself in the last few weeks!

A Postcard From: Noelle Stockwell ’20

Name: Noelle Stockwell
Class Year: 2020

Internship Placement: Running Start
Location: Washington, D.C.

This summer I am in Washington D.C. working at a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization called Running Start whose main goal is to get more women to run for elected office. Their work is focused on holding political leadership training for young women in high school and college. So far, much of my work at Running Start has been to prepare for the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program (YWPL). Seventy high school girls from all different backgrounds came to D.C. for the week, and it was so amazing to be a part of their time here.

As part of YWPL, the participants get to spend a day on Capitol Hill and were able to meet with their representative or a member of their staff, and this was hands down my favorite day of the week. It has been my responsibility for the past month to schedule these meetings and organize their groups. Never would I have anticipated being in contact with Congressional offices. Our communication was mostly via email, but sometimes a phone call was necessary. I have never, never, liked talking on the phone, and if I can, I always find a way out of it. I surprised myself by rising to the responsibility and scheduling 60-plus meetings with these high-ranking political figures. It felt rewarding to see all of my hard work paying off, and to hear how excited all the young girls were about their meetings. I had my own group and throughout the course of the day, I got to meet Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Kennedy III. Not only was it a great experience for me, but I loved seeing how excited my own group was and how confident they were having conversations with members of Congress. It made me excited to see what these high schoolers would do in the future, because I’m sure it will be something amazing.

Noelle Stockwell and Senator Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator from Massachusetts

Noelle Stockwell and fellow interns with Congressman Joe Kennedy III.

Joe Kennedy III, Congressional Representative from the 4th District of Massachusetts

I look forward to what the rest of the summer will bring now that we are done with YWPL. I know we will launch a large-scale research project in which we will attempt to survey every female state legislator, who number upwards of 1,800. I look forward to hearing what advice they all have for the young women who want to follow in their footsteps.

I look forward to going into work every morning. There’s a large group of 20 interns working in the office in addition to a small full-time staff; I appreciate how much attention is given to all of us. The organization will bring in speakers for us to have lunch with. We’ve already met with the former Executive Producer of “Meet the Press,” Betsy Fischer. We got to participate throughout YWPL, and network, which was a new experience for me. The atmosphere reminds me of Bryn Mawr in a way because I’m part of a strong community of women who are supporting each other and trying to make a difference. I feel like I have learned so much already, and I look forward to seeing how much more I will grow by the end of the summer.

A Postcard From: Ariel Li ’20

Name: Ariel Li
Class Year: 2020
Major: Psychology

Internship Placement: Child Bilingual Research Institution of the Chinese University of Hong Kong

My ongoing internship at the Child Bilingual Research Institution of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has been greatly regarding and so far has been an exciting experience! As someone who has a multilingual background myself, I found the ongoing projects at CBRC to be very fascinating. Moreover, since current projects are focused on young children between the ages of 1 to 6, I’ve been working with adorable bilingual children who never cease to amaze me with their language abilities and laugh-out-loud cuteness. Though I am a psychology major at Bryn Mawr, and not familiar with the area of linguistics, I’ve been able to work with a lot of information and data that are connected to some degree with cognitive and developmental psychology, which I have found to be very interesting. Prior courses I’ve taken at Bryn Mawr, including Developmental Psychology and Research Methods of Psychology, have also helped me understand a lot of the things I’ve learned so far at CBRC.

Ongoing bilingual research projects at CBRC consists of the following components: First is the gathering and obtaining of data; in this case, it would be the language and speech materials of children. Second would be the recording and transcription and digitalization of the material. After that, the data would need to be analyzed, programmed and stored for further use. In some cases, the language components of the child’s speech would need to be compiled and organized accordingly. Therefore, my share of responsibilities so far as an intern has included, but has not been not limited to the following:

  • My favorite part of the job is recording language material with children: along with a colleague, we would visit a bilingual child in their home and do video recordings and audio recordings of the child while we play with them. The sessions would be as conversational and as casual as possible, and most of the time we could not help laughing about how adorable the children were.
  • After the fun part of the job was completed, the video recordings would need to be reviewed. I would need to use a special software and transcribe all the speech that happened in the video recordings and program them into the software with a specific format used for linguistic analysis.
  • After transcription was completed, I would use the programming commands in the software to organize the information embedded in the transcription. After some coding and commands, I would be able to decode the grammatical structures of the child’s speech, and then organize them; Excel software is used here to provide a more straightforward view of the frequency of specific words in their speech.
  • Analysis of vocabulary is also a part of my job; as the research is mostly longitudinal, I would help compile and compare the vocabulary of the children at different age periods in order to observe the overlap and improvement of use of vocabulary.
  • If needed, I would also work with other Ph.D. or grad students to design research tasks that focuses on child linguistic and language abilities, in aid of expanding ongoing projects.

My internship also includes other miscellaneous jobs including the translation of documents and materials such as the guidelines and tutorials for using the software. I also help with narration and voiceovers of the English tutorials.

A Postcard From: Samantha Forestier ’20

Name: Samantha Forestier
Class Year: 2020
Major: Biology
Hometown: Malden, Mass.

Internship Placement: Children’s Hospital Boston and Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Job Title: Undergraduate Neurosurgery Intern
Location: Boston


What’s happening at your internship? 

I’ve really enjoyed my time here at Children’s Hospital because every day I get to do something different. Each morning I sit in on rounds and listen to the neurosurgery team discuss different cases and procedures. I also get the opportunity to attend different weekly meetings such as neuro-oncology conferences, presenter series at lab meetings, and combined neurosurgery meetings with Children’s and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. My main area of contribution is in a research project on pediatric meningioma. In that project I help analyze patient data and organize it to identify patterns and relationships. I’ve gotten to learn about the clinical side of research, which is new to me. I also get to experience some patient interaction as I attend patient rounds, clinic visits, and operations with my mentor.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I wanted to combine my interest in the medical field along with my love for research. I’ve always been interested in a career in the medical field and I wanted to get the experience of being in a hospital setting to help me see if this is the path I’m interested in pursuing. I enjoy working with children and Children’s Hospital has always been a leader in pediatric medicine, education and research.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship has been getting to see the amazing children who come here to get better. It has been such an unforgettable experience and it has increased my interest in pursuing pediatric medicine. I have gotten to sit in on full-day, difficult operations where I got to look into the patient’s brain. Then I have gotten to visit that same patient a couple of days later, making a tremendous recovery. Seeing these brave children has been such an inspiration to me. I hope in the future to be part of a team that gets to help children with their medical needs and gets them back to being themselves.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

The biggest challenge for this internship was learning the vocabulary and knowledge of this field. Before joining Children’s Hospital for the summer, I had very limited knowledge of the brain and neurosurgery. Throughout my time here, I had to learn the correct terminology and concepts for what I was working on by asking questions to those around me to enhance my understanding. I’ve had to make sure I’ve understood all of the language, even on patient data and hospital visit notes, to ensure that I was collecting information that was important and relevant.

A Postcard From: Shayra Banta ’19

Name: Shayra Banta
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology and International Studies
Hometown: Mumbai, India

Internship Placement: Energy Vision
Job Title: Summer Associate
Location: New York City

What’s happening at your internship? 

There are constantly different projects and assignments being tackled at a given time in the office. The previous week, Energy Vision was hosting a “Power of Waste” workshop for 100-plus people and we were all preoccupied with the agenda for that. It took place on the 6th of June and was a day filled with panel discussions from leaders in the field, and interacting with various interested government, private and nonprofit institutions. Since then, I have been focused on research regarding their upcoming comparative report on the alternative fuels available to end the diesel era. For this research, I have been searching the internet, doing conference calls with various project consultants across the U.S. and sending emails to affiliated companies trying to source as much information as I can. We are supposed to reconvene early next week to figure out the next few steps in the process.

Why did you apply for this internship?

During my semester abroad in Milan I had taken a sustainability class that caught my attention. I have always been interested in energy but never had prior exposure or sufficient knowledge in the area. Energy Vision seemed like the perfect amalgamation of collaboration on comparative analysis reports and autonomy in exploring your ideas regarding the next change you want to see. It is a think tank based in New York and it involves influencing decision makers to advance sustainable energy and transportation solutions through targeted research, education, outreach and engagement. Its mission and operational style tied back to my International Studies major and seemed like an interesting path for me to explore.

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

I have always loved exploring a new city. It was a big factor in coming for college to Bryn Mawr from Mumbai, and then deciding on studying abroad in Milan my junior fall. New York has been fairly easy to navigate and being so cosmopolitan I always have family and friends around.

As many times as I had visited, living here is a totally different experience. I had heard of how fast, evolving, and dynamic the city was — but that’s how I like to think of myself. I enjoy having established my routine coffee shop around the corner from work, and knowing how to navigate the initially daunting Trader Joe’s aisles every Sunday while getting the week’s supplies. It is slowly but steadily starting to feel familiar and I’m really excited to get to call another place home.

What are three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Adjectives — curious, insightful, appreciated
Nouns — team, understanding, support