A Postcard From: Sorenie Gudissa ’20

Name: Sorenie Gudissa
Class Year: 2020
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Internship Placement: The Glenmede Trust Company
Job Title: Manager Research Intern
Location: Philadelphia

Sorenie Gudissa and other Glenmede interns at Escape the Room Philly

A team building activity for Glenmede interns at Philadelphia’s Escape The Room (We weren’t successful in escaping.)

What’s happening at your internship?

As a Manager Research Intern at Glenmede, I assist the department in the evaluation of external investment managers whose investment strategies the company utilizes to provide the best financial planning for its clients. The tasks of the department I directly work with (Manager Research Group /MRG) include monitoring, researching, and selecting managers based on their statistically measured long standing performance and qualitative analysis of the team making the investment decisions. Additionally, I work with the Manager Research Group to provide analysis on the different available securities that Glenmede could potentially invest in.

By being part of the internship program at Glenmede, I am also participating in the Glenmede Intern Challenge in which I work alongside six other fellow interns to formulate and present a plan that the company can implement to further differentiate itself as an investment management company in the industry. The plan is to be presented to the company’s management committee and board members at the end of the internship.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to Glenmede because I wanted an opportunity to gain experience in the corporate world and in the financial industry that I believed would be valuable in my professional life after Bryn Mawr. I knew Glenmede would help me decide whether a career in finance is the right path for me.

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

The biggest challenge of working at Glenmede for me has been learning how to use the different software programs that Manager Research Group employs to keep track of and evaluate the financial markets and the performance of investment managers currently hired by the company. I also found making up for my nonfinance background by familiarizing myself with finance terms and concepts somewhat tasking. However, as I near the halfway point of my internship, I believe that I have learned and gained so much experience and understanding that has made my time at Glenmede worthwhile.




A Postcard From: Maryanne Kihiu ’19

Name: Maryanne Kihiu
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: Kiambu, Kenya

Internship Placement: Penn Medicine
Job Title: College Student Research Assistant
Location: Philadelphia

Maryanne Kihiu

What’s happening at your internship? 

This summer, I am interning at Penn Medicine; specifically, I am working in a lab that investigates various methods of increasing the avidity of certain immunotherapies against ovarian cancer. The overall goal of my project is to identify and enrich for tumor reactive lymphocytes from populations of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, usually referred to as TILS. The TILS are harvested from tumors resected from patients suffering from ovarian cancer.  So far, I have mainly been working on cell cultures and exploring different kinds of chemical conditions that would give me the highest expansion of the desired population.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I took a Biology of Cancer class in my freshman year, which I found to be very eye-opening on what cancer really meant. This class mainly covered the biological aspect of cancer but I also wanted to know more about the treatment aspect. This internship provides me with that experience.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

The amount of patience and care it takes to expand lymphocyte cultures in an aseptic environment. Before, I had only worked on bacterial cultures which are not very demanding. Also, you would think that since these are immune cells, they would not require so much attention. Ironically, they require so much care and in a very clean environment in order for them to grow to robust cells that can confer immunity to the body. Their life through development and function is inherently ironical.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Building, Insightful, Fun

Experience, Essence, Teamwork


A Postcard From: Claire Eckstein Indik ’20

Name: Claire Eckstein Indik
Class Year: 2020
Major: Psychology
Minor: Neuroscience
Hometown: Ardmore, Pa.

Internship Placement: University of Pennsylvania
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship? 

This summer I am interning at the Perelman School of Medicine in the neurology department. I am currently working on two projects under Dr. David Raizen, who studies the regulation and function of sleep in the model organism C. elegans.

C. elegans or Caenorhabditis elegans, a transparent nematode, is a powerful model organism for unraveling the mystery of sleep. In fact, working with a simple nematode with a mere 302 neurons is ideal for early stage research of sleep mechanisms and function.

For the first project, I am studying an antimicrobial peptide encoded by the nlp-29 gene that has been found to induce behavioral quiescence when overexpressed. Recently, NPR-12 has been identified as a receptor for NLP-29 peptides. Together they have been shown to play a role in a dendrite degeneration phenotype. I will be investigating whether this receptor is also relevant to the behavioral quiescence phenotype. In order to do this, I will cross a heat shock inducible nlp-29 into the npr-12 mutant. If NPR-12 is the mechanism by which NLP-29 causes quiescence, then I predict that in an npr-12 mutant, the effect of over-expressing nlp-29 will be abolished. Additionally, it is possible that npr-12 mutants have a sleep phenotype. Therefore, I will also be comparing sickness-induced sleep of npr-12 mutants to that of wild-type animals. For the second project, I am monitoring behavior in a C. elegans model of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Particularly, I am interested in the animals’ feeding behavior and movement after exposure to cellular stress.

Why did you apply for this internship?

Ever since I was young, I was curious about sleep. I dreaded closing my eyes in bed at the end of each day and never understood its purpose. Upon entering college, my interests in neuroscience grew and I became motivated to pursue sleep research. I was amazed to learn that animals spend one third of their lives sleeping, but the molecular basis underlying sleep/wake regulation remains a mystery. This led me to work in Dr. Raizen’s laboratory last summer. I was able to learn wet lab skills, such as how to identify C. elegans at different larval stages, conduct behavioral assays, and fill WorMotels. I used these skills to assist graduate students with their research projects. This summer, I was granted the opportunity to take on my own research projects. Applying to this internship provides me with the privilege to continue learning about conducting research. Specifically, taking on my own project will provide valuable insight into whether I want to pursue research as a career option after college. But most of all, this research opportunity satisfies my childhood curiosity about sleep, its function, and its regulation.

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

This year in the lab I am continuing to learn wet lab skills and become more proficient working with C.elegans. I also received training on data processing and learned how to navigate MATLAB. Additionally, I am learning how to work in a laboratory environment alongside graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. These skills are vital to the completion of research projects and to my growth as a researcher.

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

The biggest challenge I have faced at my internship is not having a background in biology research. Oftentimes I do not understand jargon, concepts, and methodologies essential to my research. I have had to embrace my insecurities and reach out to the other members of the lab for help. Having overcome my hesitance to admit my lack of knowledge, I am learning more and more every day.





A Postcard From: Jiayu Zhou ’20

Name: Jiayu Zhou
Class Year: 2020
Hometown: Ningbo, China
Major: Anthropology
Intern Place: PCDC (Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation)
Job Title: Special Events Assistant

I decided to intern at Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation within no more than  two minutes. Initially driven by a curiosity to study Asian American community and to experience working in NGO, I have nevertheless learned a lot more.

My seat in the office.

‘Challenges and mistakes are nothing to be afraid of!’

The moment my supervisor asked me to make a banner, I stood next to her for about one minute, holding the necessary materials with an un-functioned brain. Did she just ask me, the newly-arrived intern and the least handy person in the world (I really think so), to decorate the place where an important event was about to take place? She quickly left the office, leaving me a brief how-to and work that needed to be done in 30 minutes. Feeling pushed and stressed, I sat down and started the work ineptly. Following the instructions, things seemed to be a lot smoother than I thought. Yet just when I began to feel a little relaxed, the weirdly short string made me realize that a huge mistake had been made — the spacing between words was a total mess. “What should I do, there was just 10 minutes left! … She is going to kill me!” I was extremely panicked for about two minutes, but then made up my mind — even if I got fired today, I need to get the work done. Ran to the printer, I re-prepared all the colored papers needed, and spent the next 15 minutes re-making the banner. Well, I still failed to finish the assignment on time, and the quality of my work was not so uplifting. However, on that day, I realized the reason challenges scare people away rests on the possibility of making mistakes. But in fact, mistakes and challenges should be nothing to be afraid of — face them, think of ways to compensate for them, and learn from them.

‘I really need to make more money for living’

The burden of living as low-income immigrants/residents didn’t hit me until I started to survey small businesses in Chinatown. What’s supposed to yield mainly demographic information about the business owners usually ended up being that I sat there listening to their hardships. Some people would say a lot, from how they just got robbed recently, how the overcrowded resultants have dragged everybody into price war, to how they thought their business was still under the influence of the 2008 finical crisis. I couldn’t forget that one day a shop owner kept telling me “Life here is too hard, I need to make more money.” Being exposed to this kind of information is not always easy. The first few days of surveying, even when I got back home after work, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. In fact, even now, I am constantly thinking about: What can the organization do to help their life? And, What I am doing to solve their problems? These are not questions I am ready to answer.

An old photo of snow-covered Chinatown found on the first few days of work.

An old photo of Chinatown I found on the first few days of work.

A Postcard From: Zauraiz Syeda ’19

Name: Zauraiz Syeda
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Hometown: Croydon, Pa.

Internship Placement: CHOP and Thomas Jefferson Hospital
Job Title: Academic Associate
Location: Philadelphia

Zauraiz Syeda and class

This summer I’m interning at two different hospitals: CHOP in West Philly, and Jefferson Hospital in Center City. At both locations, I’m working as part of clinical research teams in the emergency department. The goal of my internships is to act as a liaison between each research team and the emergency department physicians to screen, recruit, and properly consent patients for a variety of studies going on at each hospital. This includes making sure a patient is eligible for a study, checking with their physician about potential exclusion factors, explaining the study to the patient and their parents/family, and enrolling them in the study if they are interested. In addition to this, I attend weekly seminars that introduce me and the other AA’s to the basics of research design, research ethics, data collection, and good clinical practice. We get the opportunity to learn about other topics as well, such as chest pain and heart failure, wound management and how to suture, how to ultrasound, and how emergency and trauma patients are triaged.

Zauraiz Syeda in ER

I also have a final project where I design hypothetical studies after learning about the strengths and weaknesses of various study designs. At Jefferson, the other interns and I also get a chance to work with the JeffDESIGN team that teaches medical students at Sydney Kimmel Medical College to apply critical thinking to redesign healthcare systems. This program involves interactive workshops facilitated by designers, architects, and medical device makers. I think it’s absolutely essential for pre-meds/med students to learn the skills to solve healthcare challenges, especially with our ever-changing healthcare system, and I’m excited to be able to work with them!

After taking the Sociology of Bioethics class at Bryn Mawr, I became very interested in the history of ethics, informed consent, and how it relates to clinical research in medical settings. Working at both CHOP and Jefferson allows me to compare the process of informed consent between different populations. At CHOP I mostly see children and young adults, whereas at Jefferson I’m interacting with young adults, middle-aged people, and the elderly. An important difference in consenting patients at CHOP is that they are usually unable to provide consent since they are too young. Instead, we ask their parents to provide consent, and we obtain assent from children who are old enough to understand what the study is asking for. Since CHOP is one of the leading hospitals in the area for children, I see a lot of very sick or very injured young kids, which can sometimes be scary. I love interacting with all the children though, and I’ve learned that working at a children’s hospital involves taking care of worried parents just as much as taking care of their kids. My work as an intern also directly relates to what I learned in my Experimental Design and Statistics Class, where I learned the importance of random sampling, good data collection, and how to describe and interpret data in a way that makes it applicable. It’s exciting to see what I learned in my classes being used in the real world, and I want to continue my internship as a Praxis Independent Study in the fall!

In addition to my internship, I’ve been trying to explore what Philly has to offer. I’m living in an apartment with four amazing Penn students, and there are lots of BMC students nearby, too! I’m always meeting new people and learning about new places to go, recipes to try out, and books to read — it’s been both busy and relaxing!

A Postcard From: Jessica Tharaud ’20

Name: Jessica Tharaud
Class Year: 2020
Major: Psychology and Spanish
Hometown: Newton, Mass.

Internship Placement: Harvard Study of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Boston

What’s happening at your internship?

This summer, I have been working at the Harvard Study of Adult Development, an incredible longitudinal study that has followed the lives of 268 Harvard undergraduates and another group of 456 men from Boston for the past 75 years. Because of the massive amount of material accumulated over that length of time, my main project this summer has been creating a spreadsheet listing all of the documents for each participant. I also check the files for any missing documents, update the tables of contents to resolve discrepancies, and digitize documents to make sure that all of the data is accessible. Additionally, I enter and verify data on health and aging from questionnaires between 1981 and 2010 and help with other tasks as needed.

Why did you apply for this internship?

During the academic year, I began working with the study through the lab of Professor Marc Schulz, who is also the Associate Director of the Harvard Study. Professor Schulz put me in contact with the researchers in Boston and helped me obtain the position. Since my introduction to the study, I have gained so much appreciation and passion for its unique contributions to psychology. These men entrusted the Harvard Study with the details of their lives, and the opportunity to be a part of that is one of a kind.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship so far has been shadowing one of the lab visits of the second generation of participants. At Bryn Mawr, I knew of the lab visits and had examined some of the data. But actually being in the room and meeting a participant as they willingly go through tasks is such a qualitatively different experience. Research often seems impersonal when it becomes numbers on a computer screen, and simply having witnessed the process gives me a new perspective on what data represents.

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

The biggest challenge so far for me has been pacing myself and having to re-evaluate my project. I want to be productive and contribute, but allowing myself to slow down and take breaks actually improves my work and prevents me from burning out. When I began cataloguing the files, the intention of the project was to simply provide a resource so that researchers could quickly examine the availability of data across all participants. However, I quickly realized that the table of contents in each folder was not always accurate and a much smaller project grew into delving into the files for missing documents, fixing the table of contents, and digitizing documents. Learning each new step involved requires an adjustment, but taking on this bigger challenge has ultimately been more beneficial and rewarding.

A Postcard From: Marina Herbst ’19

Name: Marina Herbst
Class Year: 2019
Major: Political Science/ Philosophy
Hometown: Chicago

Internship Placement: Agent Publishing LLC
Job Title: Marketing Intern
Location: Chicago

What’s happening at your internship?

My internship at Agent Publishing has been sales and marketing focused. Every day consists of advertising and content creation for AgentEDU’s webpage and social media outlets. Within this space, I advertise to agents and sellers in the real estate market, as well as any individual looking for advice on how to find the right agents for their own personal home search. Furthermore, AgentEDU’s courses cater towards those seeking out professional guidance on how to become more successful as an agent or real estate assistant. Thus far, my supervisor allots a project every day or every two days, depending on the size of the project. In addition to content creation and creative copy assignments, I have also taken several courses online, learning about various marketing tools that use data analytics such as Google AdWords as well as managing programming and coding behind Facebook and other social media sites.

Why did you apply for this internship?

Attending a liberal arts college where business and marketing classes are not an option, I use my summers to seek out internships that will be able to further my knowledge of marketing and advertising for future career opportunities. Furthermore, growing up in a downtown neighborhood of Chicago where architecture is huge and unique, housing developments and real-estate have always interested me. My grandfather also works in housing development and real estate, and my entire life I had the opportunity to observe the process of real estate development and how much time, energy and patience is required in buying, selling, developing, and improving old buildings. While this company is not a real estate development firm, it does operate as a third-party company that works directly with real estate agents. Through this experience of working in a real estate company in Chicago, I hope to learn not only a new field of business that I have had a sufficient affinity for, but also to relish the opportunity of having an internship in my hometown, a place I wish to live and potentially grow in my career.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

Something I have learned from this internship that was unexpected was regarding data analytics and the overwhelming importance it has in determining consumer trends on not only the digital front but also on the personal level. When managing a website for a company. it is imperative to use Google Analytics to determine your website’s traffic levels. By learning how to measure site traffic, ad performance and conversions, I was able to properly tackle marketing projects more effectively. Through the various lessons I become proficient in understanding traffic reports, tracking engagement by learning how to read behavior reports, as well as how to use site content reports that caters toward a more in-depth analysis of consumer trends.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

  • Adjectives: Creative, Beneficial, and Informative
  • Nouns: Real Estate, Content Creation, Communication

A Postcard From: Ariana Serret ’20

Name: Ariana Serret
Class Year: 2020
Major: Anthropology
Hometown: Dorchester, Mass.

Internship Placement: Zoo New England
Job Title: Animal Care Intern
Location: Franklin Park Zoo — Tropical Forest 

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to this internship because I have always been fond of animals and what pushed me more to apply to this internship was taking the primatology class offered at Bryn Mawr, Living Primates, taught by Professor Šešelj. This class made me fall back in love with not only primates but animals in general. I was interested in interning at Zoo New England because this was a way I would learn about other animals in depth and also explore my interests in potentially working with animals. Learn more about Bryn Mawr’s Anthropology Department.

What’s happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

At my internship, I am in a way training with the Zoo keepers. At the Zoo, each area is divided into sections. I am working at the Franklin Park Zoo specifically in the Tropical Forest. In the Tropical Forest there are many animals from different countries around the world that are found usually in warm, humid tropical forests.

Some animals that I have worked with are Bearded Barbet Tapirs, Giant Anteater, and the Saddle-Billed Storks. We start with shifting the animals from their indoor dens to the exhibit, clean their indoor dens and exhibits, making their diets, provide enrichment for the animals, watch and help the zoo kKeepers with training, and overall maintaining the animals happy. I have been given the opportunity to learn about the animals, their personalities, what they like and dislike. Milton and Abby (both tapirs) are fourth-time parents to baby Ixchell and they are both very caring parents. Jockamo, the giant anteater, is a sleepy boy who can easily get nervous with loud noises. He loves to take baths and loves to sleep with his tail covering his body.

I am currently working with different animals because every three weeks we switch routines. I am now working with the Amazon Milk Tree Frogs, African Pygmy Falcon, Ruwenzori Fruit Bats, Straw-Colored Fruit Bats, Green Anaconda, Kenyan Sand Boa, Madagascar Tree Boa, Golden Breasted Starling, Rosy Boa, Hadada Ibis, Hamerkops, Violet Turacos, Scarlet Ibis, Yellow Rumped Caciques, Box Turtle, and many more! There are a lot of animals on this routine but I enjoy learning and helping with every single one.

I am also creating a project that focuses on nesting of some of the birds that I am working with. I also forgot to mention that during my time here a DeBrazza Monkey gave birth on June 6, so there is a new baby monkey in our department!

A Postcard From: Rebecca Kaplan ’19

Name: Rebecca Kaplan
Class Year: 2019
Major: Psychology
Hometown: New York City


Internship Placement: ESTEEM Research Group/Yale School of Public Health
Job Title: Summer Research Assistant
Location: New York City

What’s happening at your internship? 

I’m working with a team of researchers from the Yale School of Public Health who want to learn about ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community. Our main study, ESTEEM (Effective Skills to Empower Effective Men), has been running for three years, and is investigating different types of psychotherapy with the goal of improving mental health and reducing risk of contracting HIV for queer men. The other study, Project EQuIP (Empowering Queer Identities in Psychotherapy), is an adaptation of the ESTEEM protocol for queer women that officially launched a few weeks ago. Much of my work involves recruiting new participants for both studies, as well as collecting data from current participants.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I knew that I wanted to spend this summer getting research experience, and although I had been interested in both mental health and LGBTQ+ issues for a long time, ESTEEM was the first research lab I found working at the intersection of these areas.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

I found out about this internship through a Bryn Mawr alum, who was working at the lab as a study psychotherapist at the time. She emailed the psychology department listserv about an opportunity for a full-time research assistantship at the lab. Although they were not advertising for summer-only RAs at the time, I was interested enough in what they were doing that I decided to email the principal investigator directly.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

I enjoy the work we’re doing to recruit new participants for the studies. We are always trying to come up with new recruitment strategies, which allows us to be creative. We’re currently reaching out to several organizations in the area, ranging from bookstores to mental health service providers to houses of worship, to form partnerships in the community, and we recently ran a booth at NYC Pride with the other Summer RAs (in the photo above).

A Postcard From: Hemma Murali ’19

Name: Hemma Murali
Class Year: 2019
Major: Biochemistry

Internship Placement: University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Job Title: Research Assistant, Department of Biomedical Sciences
Location: Philadelphia

Hello! I’m almost a month into my internship at The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine as a Research Assistant in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and I am learning more than expected every day!

Coming into this internship, I did not fully expect the level of responsibility that my lab and my Primary Investigator (PI), Dr. Rumela Chakrabarti, would give me as an undergrad, but I am pleasantly surprised that I am being intellectually challenged and entrusted with conducting some exciting experiments and techniques. In my lab, we aim to understand the molecular mechanisms behind some of the most aggressive breast cancers, such as triple negative breast cancer. We try to first understand the roles of different cell signaling pathways in both normal and cancerous mammary gland development, to ultimately develop more effective combination therapies and/or immunotherapies for breast cancer patients. As a Research Assistant, I work with my lab professor to understand the fundamentals of breast cancer by conducting different techniques (ex. IHC and Western Blots) and experiments on mouse and human tumor tissue samples.

I’ve found that this blend of clinical applications and basic science research has fed my interest in research. I’m glad to say that I look forward to going into lab every day, to be challenged and to learn something new. I feel that I’m better equipped to understand the concepts behind my lab’s research due to the content and study skills I gained from my Bryn Mawr classes, such as the upper-level Biochemistry courses with Dr. Chander and Dr. Davis. The lessons I’ve learned from my on-campus lab (don’t fear failure — it can take you somewhere new!) with Dr. Shapiro first exposed me to the ebb and flow of research, and these lessons have proven invaluable in my efforts to make the most out of my internship at Penn Vet.

In addition to learning new things in the lab, I am also enjoying my time navigating and appreciating Philadelphia! I’m living with another Bryn Mawr alum quite close to the Vet School, so I’m happy to say that I feel like I have the best of both Bryn Mawr and Philly. Recently, I went kayaking at Bartram’s Garden and attended Philly’s Pride Parade for the first time! Living so close to the Schuylkill River, the Schuylkill Trail, and being able to bike to work every day are all experiences that are slowly fostering a sprout of affection for Philly. So far, I’m bubbling with joy that this summer has been treating me so kindly, and I hope that I will continue to be challenged and experience new things for the remainder of my summer!