A Postcard From: Rachel Sadaty Ellerson ’19

Name: Rachel Sadaty Ellerson
Class Year: 2019
Major: Anthropology
Hometown: Port Washington, N.Y.

Internship Placement: Transylvania Bioarchaeology
Location: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The word Transylvania is almost synonymous with bloodthirsty vampires who live in dark, shadowy castles. Most people don’t associate Transylvania with archaeological excavation in fact, most people don’t even realize that Translyvania exists outside of the world of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But for the past five weeks, I’ve been working at an archaeological excavation just outside of the second-largest city in Transylvania, Cluj-Napoca, and no, we aren’t digging up vampires (although there are excavations in Eastern Europe analyzing so called “vampire burials”).

The site we’re excavating, known as Jucu, is a cemetery, and technically we are conducting a rescue excavation. The land is currently being developed into a solar land farm, but portions of the area have been protected to allow for the recovery of individuals in the cemetery. Transylvania Bioarchaeology, or TBA, the organization helming the excavation, has been working at Jucu for the past seven to eight years with the goal of recovering as many individuals as possible, analyzing their remains, and then sharing what they learn with the larger bioarchaelogical and Transylvanian community. TBA is also an educational field school so that people like me with little to no experience in bioarchaeology can learn about the field while simultaneously assisting with their excavation.

That’s the main reason why I applied to this particular field school to both learn about bioarchaeology and gain practical experience in the field. As an anthropology major (with a focus in Biological Anthropology) I am deeply passionate about osteological analysis, which is just a fancy way of saying “I like bones.” Through this school, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about osteology (the study of bones) and the actual excavation process. Contrary to popular belief, archaeologists do not simply run into ancient temples and search for treasure whilst escaping deadly traps. The reality of archaeology is less sexy. It involves digging holes with pick axes in 80 degree weather. It is constantly being covered in sweat and a lot  a lot of dirt. It is methodical work that requires extensive skills and knowledge. Although archaeology is quite exciting, it is not almost-being-hit-by-a-large-boulder exciting.

That being said, there were plenty of things about archaeology that took me by surprise. For instance, once you start to see bone, no matter how small the fragment, you can’t use metal tools, you have to use wood or plastic. When I learned this, I expected my instructors to pull out some fancy, high-tech wooden tools. I’m not sure why I expected a “high-tech” wooden tool, but as you can imagine I was quite surprised when my instructors pulled out a box full of chopsticks and plastic utensils. That seemed far too rudimentary a tool to use in an archaeological venture. Frequently, however, the simplest solutions are the best and chopsticks ended up being a favorite tool to use when conducting fine excavation.

Working with human remains can be challenging. There are many ethical questions to consider before embarking on an excavation and the actual excavation of skeletons can be quite difficult, particularly at this site. The individuals at Jucu didn’t have the best preservation, so when I first attempted to remove an individual from their burial, I was stunned and frustrated by how unintentionally destructive the process is. Although we tried to be careful, the bones were so fragile that they fell apart in our hands as we took them out. I ended up accidentally exploding part of the pelvis, which as you can imagine was very upsetting. Even though it isn’t intentional, it feels disrespectful to damage someone’s skeleton. As all archaeologists say, this is a destructive science, but with that destruction (intentional or not) comes much to learn.

A Postcard From: Meredith Xu

I’m doing my summer research at Center for Nanoscale Materials under the support of Prof. Xuemei May Cheng at the Physics department at Bryn Mawr College.

My major task is to do magnetic vortex disks fabrication. It’s of great interest due to its biomedical applications, such as targeted cancer destruction.

Students should talk to Professor Xuemei Cheng if they are interested. It’s a valuable experience for both physics major and bio major students!

Center for Nanoscale Materials Patents

A Postcard From: Xinyi Wang ’19

Name: Xinyi Wang
Class Year: 2019
Major: Mathematics and Computer Science
Hometown: China

Internship Placement: REU CAAR (Research Experience for Undergraduate Student, Combinatorics and Algorithms for Real Problems) at University of Maryland
Job Title: Student Researcher
Location: College Park, Md.

What’s happening at your internship?

The research problem that I am working on is Adversarial Patch Attack on Deep Neural Network. Briefly speaking, we are trying to design a patch that Person A can wear to fool the facial recognition system to make it wrongly think that it is Person B.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I hope to gain some research experience to decide whether to apply to graduate school, and deep learning is a field that I am interested in.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

Collaborating with my teammates.

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

  • Collaborative
  • Inspiring
  • Interesting
  • Research
  • Computer Science
  • Mentorship


A Postcard From: Leslie Goloh ’19

Name: Leslie Goloh ‘19
Class Year: 2019
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Internship Placement: Canaday Library
Job Title: Information Security Program Intern
Location: Bryn Mawr College

What’s happening at your Internship?

As an Information Security Intern, I’ve been working on two different projects where I develop and redesign learning materials for Information Security Practices. This includes tech documentations, videos and Infographics. The clients for the projects are Bryn Mawr’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Bryn Mawr’s Information Security Program. Together with my internship partner, I meet with the clients on a biweekly bases to discuss the requirements of the various tools we’ve been working on, and to get feedback from them. I also investigate different software such as Infographic and video makers, to find good ones that have more functionality and can do more work.

While the main work is really to make these tools, there is a research phase to collect all information on the topics. During the biweekly meetings with the clients, we discuss the information and decide on what is necessary for students or faculty to know, and discard the ones that might be overwhelming and not crucial.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I’ve always been interested in cybersecurity as a potential career field. I applied to this internship to learn more about information security and explore the depth of my interest. Additionally, through my experience as a Digital Curriculum Intern with LITS last year, I knew that I would probably be developing learning materials for Bryn Mawr’s Information Security Program. So, I considered this an opportunity to develop and expand my creativity as well as strengthen my digital competencies.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part has definitely been developing Infographics and animated videos! Given the nature of my internship and the overall goal of my projects (which is to educate students on the best Information Security practices), I have spent a significant amount of time brainstorming different ways of presenting information to a student audience. Naturally, it’s exciting to play around with color schemes, animations, effects, pictures etc. But it’s also fun to consider real-world issues that affect the learning experience. This includes accessibility, cognitive load and cultural relevance. In designing these tools, I’ve had to think a lot about these issues and set standard requirements that need to be met for them to be successful. Doing that hasn’t necessarily been easy but it has been fun and fulfilling.

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

Logistics management is not easy! To be more specific, organizing people, times, and venues for events and projects is not easy. For one of the Information Security Internship (InfoSec) projects, my partner and I needed to include external parties, i.e. other students involved in other internships on campus. Coordinating times for everyone to meet was a bit of a struggle because there weren’t a lot of commonalties. As a result, there was a lot of back and forth emails between us but thankfully, we successfully pulled it off. The real takeaway here is a newfound appreciation for the people working behind the scenes to organize the wonderful events we have here on campus.

Leslie Goloh

Figure 1: Top left: Image of the title of a video on Secure Deletion of Files. Bottom Right: Image of the title of an Infographic on Password Managers.


A Postcard From: Yesenia Mendez ’21

Name: Yesenia Mendez
Class Year: 2021
Major: Economics (intended)
Hometown: Houston

Internship Placement: BrightSphere Investment Group, plc
Job Title: Finance and Accounting Intern
Location: Boston

Yesenia Mendez

What’s happening at your internship?

From Houston to Boston, this summer has proven to be full of difficulties and excitement. BrightSphere Investment Group (BSIG) is a global asset management company with a diverse group of investment management firms that provides investment management services internationally. As an intern at BSIG, I was challenged intellectually and socially. During my internship, I worked with the Finance Team on the Securities and Exchange Commission Quarterly Report by finding support for each number mentioned and calculating and recalculating consolidated statements and financial statements. Other duties included updating bank statements, organizing data for asset value reports and benefit liability reports. Before my internship at BSIG, I had no idea how to do any of these things. My biggest fear was failing at the work I was assigned because I had not taken a finance or accounting class. However, I quickly realized that regardless of my major or background, most of the knowledge in finance and accounting is learned in the job and through experiences.

In addition, I had the opportunity to get resume feedback and do mock interviews with different employees across all departments. By doing this, BrightSphere prepares its interns for any future internships or jobs. Along with this, I had lunches with all the departments, including the CEO and the rest of the executive team, to learn about their jobs and experiences. I feel very fortunate to have been part of this because it really helped me understand how corporations work, what they are looking for when hiring, and how I can improve my skills in order to reach my career goals.

Why did you apply for this internship?

After being involved in Redefine Her Street, VITA, and taking classes like Money and Banking with Professor Margaret Clarke, I knew I wanted to explore the financial sector. Because I was a freshman, it was really difficult for me to find any internships. However, I came across this internship through POSSE and was not hesitant to apply.


Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

One of the greatest lessons I learned this summer is how the culture of a company should affect where I want to work. Instead of using charities as a marketing strategy, BSIG truly cares about others, and they constantly motivate its employees to do community service. This summer, I volunteered with BSIG at the Greater Boston Food Bank, St. Francis House Shooze Cruise, and Cradles to Crayons Backpack-A-Thon. Giving back is something that its really close to me and being part of a space and culture that encourages this was wonderful.

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

It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Boston but living on my own in an unknown city with no one I knew was hard. Having to cook for myself and managing money after paying bills and rent made me appreciate home, family, and friends at a much bigger scale. However, homesickness did not stop me from exploring museums, restaurants, and historical attractions. This new type of independence that I gained this summer helped me mature and allowed me to see the world outside Houston and Bryn Mawr.

Yesenia Mendez by ocean

A Postcard From: Tori Dang ’19

This summer, I am doing a 10-week research project on magnetism at Colorado State University. Colorado is a great place to be for the summer. I spent my weekdays learning about research techniques, making magnetic samples, doing simulations and reading papers, and my weekends outdoors in the nearby Rocky mountains, or simply relaxing near campus.

The big goal of this project is to study Dzyaloshiiski-Moriya interaction and skyrmions in nano magnetic structures, which are important to future spintronics devices. What I am doing specifically, is to make a waveguide on top of the nano discs, so that we can apply a magnetic field when sending a current through. This is done through several steps: spin coating the sample with photoresist which, as its name implies, is sensitive to UV light; developing the sample with AZ developer; pattern the sample using a laser writer; and metal deposition through sputtering; and finally, developing the sample that is now coated with metal so that excessive metals are peeled off. We have tried some different approaches to try to optimize the results. Besides, I am also trying to do micro magnetic simulations to better foresee the outcomes, and hopefully successfully getting some experimental data.

This is my first time doing research, and so far (about half way through), and I am really glad that I had this opportunity as I am enjoying it even more than I thought I would. As a rising junior majoring in physics at Bryn Mawr, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduation. This research experience has given me a good introduction to life as a graduate student, and I am now more optimistic than ever about applying/going to a graduate program in physics following Bryn Mawr. Many courses I’ve taken are very theoretical, and I’ve been seeing many familiar concepts when doing research. I think the courses I’ve taken at Bryn Mawr have prepared me well for related research.

On weekends, I love to venture out with friends to nearby national parks and mountains. As I mentioned, Colorado is a great place to be for the summer with nice weather, interesting landscapes and good views. And Fort Collins (the city where CSU is in) specially offers a nice combination of city vibes and nature. While situated pretty close to Denver, there are the Rocky Mountains and many peaceful trails to hike on within a reasonable distance as well. I am looking forward to the rest of my summer here!

Tori Dang at Mount Evans

Mount Evans

A Postcard From: Jenisha Stapleton ’20

As an Undergraduate Summer Research Fellow at Fox Chase Cancer Center, I have been conducting epidemiological research in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program. I work specifically in a lab that conducts research that aims to better understand cancer disparities in populations of African ancestry. The principal investigator (my supervisor) is a cancer epidemiologist and specializes in the molecular and social epidemiology of cancers in the African diaspora. Together we designed the summer research project that I am currently undertaking. The goal is to assess the differences in cancer risk factors, risk behaviors and health-seeking patterns among the three black sub-groups of the African diaspora (U.S., African, and Caribbean origins) living in the Philadelphia County compared to those of their native countries using methods in statistical analysis, namely meta-analyses. Thus far, I have spent the majority of my time locating and abstracting data necessary for performing the meta-analysis. While I was initially overwhelmed with the amount of data I had to carefully examine, my commitment to the study has sustained through these tedious moments. My next step is to access the Philadelphia dataset and abstract the relevant data for comparative analysis. In addition to my primary project, I am also gaining exposure to epidemiology study designs and applications. I have been able to assist with recruiting and enrolling participants and collecting biospecimens for other objectives in the lab.

I was inspired to apply for this opportunity based on an experience last summer.  With support from the LILAC STEM in Society Fellowship, I returned home to intern with the Epidemiology Division of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health. I experienced how epidemiology is applied and how it informs public health strategies and communication.  After having conversations with my supervisor, an epidemiologist who had an extensive research background, my interest in participating in epidemiological or public health research was adequately stimulated. As a biology major, I was disappointed to learn that the department did not offer opportunities to engage in epidemiology. This, coupled with my desire to conduct research in this area, sufficiently motivated me to actively seek out this researcher, which resulted in this opportunity.

It has been a great learning experience! I am gaining skills in statistical analysis and exposure to study design which provides real world context of content taught in the Experimental Design and Statistics course I intend to take in the spring. In addition to learning and growing, I am grateful for the opportunity to receive mentorship and network with my supervisor and the lab staff. Their journeys to epidemiology and public health have informed my personal career path and have further influenced my decision to pursue research opportunities and also a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology.

Jenisha Stapleton

A Postcard From: Elicie Edmond ’21

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at Prevention Point Philadelphia. Before beginning this internship, I had very little knowledge of the organization, or the services they provided. The most I knew of Prevention Point was that they offered harm reduction services to those affected by the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia communities. I also knew it was located in Kensington, the neighborhood known as the center for Philadelphia’s drug market. However, I wasn’t even aware Philadelphia was one of the major cities affected by the opioid crisis. A conversation I had with a neighbor back home in Delaware illustrates how vague my understanding of my summer plans really was. When they stated, “So it’s basically a safe-place for individuals to use drugs,” I replied, “Yeah, basically,” and went about my day. To say I was ignorant would be an understatement.

Over the past 10 weeks, I’ve gotten to learn the actual types of services Prevention Point provides, and the history behind this organization. Prevention Point addresses public health and social services efforts that aim to provide harm reduction associated with drug use. This organization began as a syringe exchange program, the exchange of used needles for clean ones, in the 1990s to address the HIV/AIDS outbreak among drug users. Since then, Prevention Point has expanded its program to offer a variety of medical and non-medical services to individuals. Along with the exchange program, these services include:

  • Providing warm meals — sit-down meals and sandwiches
  • Mail services
  • Overdose reversal training and distributing free reversal kits
  • Legal aid
  • Case management
  • Stabilized Treatment and Engagement Program (STEP) — Provides medically assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals using opioids
  • Education services
  • Emergency Packs — Harm-reduction needle packs and supplies
  • Street-Side Health Projects — Provides free medical care through mobile clinics and in-building clinics, and wound care
  • Clinica Bienestar — Specifically works with HIV treatment primarily for the Latino/x populations
  • Outreach and Housing — Linkage to housing services and respite centers, such as the Drop-In Center, for individuals to relax
  • HIV/HCV Testing — also provides referrals to HIV and HCV treatments
  • CRAFT — Program that links individuals to drug treatment

Needless to say, Prevention Point offers a lot, and it is definitely not a “safe space for users to use drugs.” Furthermore, the type of services that PPP provides is not limited to those affected by the opioid crisis. It is a safe place for any individual, no matter their race, gender, background, or socioeconomic status, to receive the aid they need. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in most of these services, and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Growing up in a sheltered environment, these past couple of months have really given me a different perspective on issues that I had a very biased view of. The staff at Prevention Point are the most kind-hearted and accepting people I have ever encountered, and the biggest thing I have learned from them is to not enter new environments with negative preconceived ideas about individuals, or their backgrounds, and to treat all people like human beings and give them the dignity they deserve.

Elicie Edmond Elicie Edmond

A Postcard From: Hannah Kim ’20

At School on Wheels, we aim to provide after-school and summertime academic services to children who are living in shelters, cars, foster homes, or the streets in Southern California. These children range from ages five to 18. We have a large body of volunteer tutors who meet with students at shelters, libraries, and schools all across the region. While the goal of the nonprofit is to be able to provide each student with a personal tutor, it is difficult to match each student with a tutor when there is a growing number of homeless and foster youth.

For example, at the Skid Row Learning Center, an after-school program, our busiest day so far has included 29 students and four adults (including myself). On those days, the vibe shifts from a tutoring center to a classroom with a team that consists of a teacher and a few teaching aids, and it is often hard to be able to provide the one-on-one attention each student needs. Children who live near the poverty line struggle in school far more than those who are not, but homeless children struggle even more than children who live near the poverty line. As a result, many students’ academic abilities may not match with their grade and therefore, need even more personalized assistance.

As a sociology major working in one of the biggest homeless “cities” in America, I am constantly seeing examples of how the social structures of race and gender are intertwined with systemic poverty. Many of the children who attend the Skid Row Learning Center are students of color, and some know more than one language. Some students who leave the Learning Center after their families have secured more permanent housing return, because their families have become homeless again. Although many of these children have experienced numerous traumas, School on Wheels focuses on helping these children grow academically and emotionally by providing some solace and fun.

Summers at the School on Wheels Skid Row Learning Center are a combination of academics and play! On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we provide the students with individualized worksheets and activities that focus on helping them improve in areas where they scored below the Common Core standards for their grade. On Tuesdays, we walk to Pershing Square Park in Downtown Los Angeles for crafts and games, sponsored by L.A. Recreation and Parks, and on Thursdays, we go on field trips, also sponsored by L.A. Recreation and Parks. This summer, the students have gotten the chance to go to the Getty Villa, the L.A. Zoo, California Science Center, Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey, and Universal Studios.

My internship with School on Wheels at the Skid Row Learning Center in Downtown Los Angeles has given me the opportunity to work behind the scenes and observe how a nonprofit functions while being able to work directly with the people that are impacted most by the nonprofit’s mission: tutoring homeless and foster youth in Southern California.

If you want to learn more about School on Wheels, check out schoolonwheels.org, and if you reside in the Southern California region, please consider becoming a volunteer tutor!

California Science Center Starfish

A Postcard From: Emma Hoffman ’20

Name: Emma Hoffman
Class Year: 2020
Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Saratoga, Calif.

Placement: The School District of Philadelphia (SDP)
Job Title: GreenFutures Intern
Location: 440 North Broad St, PhiladelphiaSchool District of Philadelphia

I spent this summer working at the SDP’s Office of Environmental Management & Services as a GreenFutures intern. GreenFutures is the District’s first comprehensive five-year sustainability management plan and has five key focus areas:

  • Education for Sustainability (EfS)
  • Consumption and Waste
  • Energy and Efficiencies
  • School Greenscapes
  • Healthy Schools, Healthy Living

Whiteboard Planning

Most of my time was spent on Education for Sustainability, which focuses on implementing lasting and sustainable practices both inside and outside the classroom, and involves teachers, administrators, students, parents, and the greater community. It’s important to note that EfS is teaching for and not about sustainability. Unfortunately, EfS is commonly mistaken for earth science when in fact it is far more! It recognizes that teaching about climate change is important but setting up the framework for students to recognize patterns, take responsibility, and invision solutions is far more valuable. The core standards emphasize an understanding of and appreciation for systems, networks, social responsibility, and cross-discipline communication, and can be applied to any subject area (just like the work I did in my Climate Change 360 program!) Throughout the summer I put together a slide deck to explain EfS to non-science teachers. Some other projects I got to work on included:

  • Interviewing current teachers on how they’ve “sustainablized” their classrooms using EfS standards (one of whom is a BMC alum!)
  • Researching and writing various posts for the GreenFutures blog (how to pack a zero waste lunch, what is Integrated Pest Management, natural alternatives to chemical bug sprays, etc.)
  • Consolidating a Community Partners list of helpful organizations and contacts
  • Promotional posters (+a blog post) about the Philadelphia Rodent Academy
  • Playing phone tag with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (and eventually locating the correct paperwork for the School District to apply as a business partner for a project on safe routes to school)
  • Writing a Scope of Work document for Student Driven Energy program proposals
  • Assembling sustainability themed book and movie lists
  • Drafting promotional tweets and contributing to the grant proposal for Litterati, a community litter mapping initiative
  • Editing the 2018 GreenFutures Annual Progress Report (look for my name at the end in Acknowledgements!)

In addition to working at the 440 building (named for the District’s street address), I also got to see more of Philly. I met the Philadelphia Eagles at the annual Eagles Playground Build (probably the coolest first day of work an intern has ever had), got a private tour of environmental art included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Modern Times exhibit, and explored the catacomb-like basement and future vermicomposting site underneath Reading Terminal Market.

Mural This summer was an incredible opportunity that I would never have experienced without Bryn Mawr’s connections to GreenFutures. As a student studying the environment and living with the short-sighted stance of our current federal government, it was relieving and inspiring to see forward-thinking programs and people committed to improving our future. I don’t yet know exactly what I want to be doing with the rest of my life, but I am glad to see that there will be plenty of ways to be involved for sustainability.