A Postcard From: Viktoriia Borodina ’21


A typical FACS analysis procedure.

Name: Viktoriia Borodina
Class Year: 2021
Major: Biology (prospective)
Hometown: Novosibirsk, Russia

Internship Location: Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
Title: Research Intern
City: St. Louis, Mo.

This summer, I was privileged to be selected for the Leah Menshouse Springer Summer Opportunities Program that allows undergraduate students to pursue research in various biomedical fields. I was assigned to work at the Dr. Pachynski’s lab that is focused on cancer immunotherapy research.

As a part of the internship, I had a chance to develop and work on an independent research project which was also focused on cancer immunotherapy investigations. Specifically, I investigated whether the CMKLR1 receptor (chemokine-like receptor for which chemerin serves as a ligand) may be induced on T-cells and NK-depleted splenocytes in the presence of various factors present in the tumor microenvironment. The field of cancer immunotherapy has been rapidly developing in the past decade, as it allows to use patient’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Some of my daily responsibilities included obtaining splenocytes and isolating various immune cells from mice to plate in various factors, stain with fluorescent antibodies and analyze those cells later on.

I applied for this internship to gain first-hand research experience in the area of medical research. Further, I have worked on various immunology research projects in Spain before, and was thrilled to apply these skills to the oncology research.

My biggest challenge was working independently in the laboratory – while I had research experience before, I always had a research supervisor closely working with me. This time, however, I had a chance to develop and carry out a research project in a new area for me. While working with various reagents and equipment on my own was challenging at first, this experience had truly made me a better scientist.

Dr. Pachynski’s Lab group photo.

The skills I learned at the lab are much more universal than I have expected them to be. While I have learned the basic molecular biology and immunology laboratory techniques, there were many other skills that are easily applied outside of laboratory. I have frequently used data analysis software for large amounts of data, as well as enhanced my knowledge and proficiency in the Office apps and online research. Besides, developing a project allowed me to develop critical thinking, persistence and being comfortable with risk.

Working in a hood.

A Postcard From: Zainab Batool ’21

Name: Zainab Batool
Class Year: 2021
Major: Physics
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan

Internship Placement: Photonics Center, Boston University
Job Title: Undergraduate Researcher
Location: Boston

I worked as an undergraduate researcher at the Photonics Center, Boston University, from May 21 to July 30. The project I worked on is under the domain of CELL-MET funded by an NSF grant and involves assembling high-resolution magnetometers. The aim of the project is to then use these magnetometers in cardiac disease detection as they were able to detect micro magnetic fields produced by organs in the human body, as well to create functionalized fabricated heart tissue patches (“heart on a chip” technology). It is not only interesting due to the various techniques involved but also because of its relevance to human needs where millions of people worldwide suffer from cardiac diseases such as heart arrhythmias.

My tasks included assembling these magnetometers by modifying a cheap, widely available accelerometer produced commercially and then further characterizing it. I also had to give bi-weekly presentations on research papers printed in many different physics/engineering fields.

I and other undergraduate researchers at the center also had different meetings and activities during the week, some of which involved nanofabrication sessions in which we prepared gold plated silicon wafers as well as talks on entrepreneurship and resume building, among other things.

I applied for the Bryn Mawr Summer Science Research program to work under the supervision of Professor Xuemei Cheng from the Physics Department and expressed an interest in biophysics in my interaction with her. When I got into the program she suggested the opportunity for me to work at Boston University and I jumped at the chance to not only work at such a top-notch research university but also to be able to experience life in Boston for a full 10 weeks!

Apart from all the academic takeaways of this summer I also fell in love with Boston during this time. It seemed to me the perfect mix of busy and happening and yet also peaceful. The best thing about the city is how expansive it is in terms of what it has on offer — all you need to do is take the “T” and you are free to go on a “duck tour” or try out Turkish cuisine or just head over to the beautiful Boston Public Library.

The most rewarding aspect of the entire summer for me was the ability to live independently — I was surprised how good I was at “adulting.” From cooking my own food to taking care of the apartment I lived in to silly roommate spats, it wasn’t as hard as I had expected it to be.

My internship can be summed up well with the adjectives independent, busy and educational, while the nouns that pop into my head for it are lots of reading (and then some more), magnets and microscopes.

A Postcard From: Ralitsa Mihaylova ’21

Name: Ralitsa Mihaylova
Class Year: 2021
Major: Physics, Math
Hometown: Bunde, The Netherlands

Internship Placement: Bishop Lab, Photonics Center
Job Title: Research summer intern
Location: Boston University

Hi there! My name is Ralitsa and I’m a rising sophomore, planning to be a physics and mathematics major. Over the course of this summer, I had the honor of joining the Bishop lab at Boston University’s Photonics Center in one of their projects––namely, building a magnetometer to be used under the newly-awarded Cell-Met NSF grant.

Now what does this all mean? And what role did it exactly play? Professor Bishop was one of the few professors amongst many partner schools who received the above-mentioned grant, which has the objective of being able to make personalized heart tissue within the next 10 years. Cell-Met plans on doing this by relying on two key inventions: the first being the 2009 Nobel Prize in biology which found that one could take any cell from your body––be it a skin cell or a lung cell, for example––and “reprogram” it to become a stem cell again (meaning it can become any type of cell). The second imperative finding used in Cell-Met is the use of millimeter scale “pools” with two little pillars in them, in which these newly-programed stem cells can become not only the cell that the lab desires them to be, but also make them form a uniform tissue.

This personalized tissue, which in our research is predominantly heart tissue, has a promising future in treating the leading cause of death for Americans: heart disease. My very small role in this was building the apparatus necessary to understand the behavior of these new heart cells, called a magnetometer. A magnetometer is a device which measures the magnetic field surrounding it with a certain resolution. Although in the Cell-Met grant the definite setup is yet to be determined, the use of magnets and magnetic fields to characterize these cells and tissues is indispensable––which is where my device came in. My task for the summer was to make a magnetometer through the modification of an accelerometer––a device that measures acceleration––by using micro-gluing techniques to make a tripod of micron-sized spheres and then deposit a magnet on top of it. In essence, the magnet will react to a surrounding magnetic field, making the already constructed accelerometer sense the magnet’s responding movement, which makes the device read out a value that can be used to understand the behavior of said magnetic field.

Looking back upon this experience, it gave me more than I could have hoped for when I was deciding to apply. Back in spring semester, the opportunity seemed appealing as I had a rising interest in engineering and the idea of seeing physics being applied in other fields was something I just hadn’t had much experience in before. But, now, I realize it gave me much more than just a summer filled with engineering and biological applications––from learning more about different applications of magnetometers and other micro-electromechanical devices, to challenging my own critical thinking with every sub-project I undertook––it gave me a feeling of being part of a bigger cause that could really do something incredible.


A Postcard From: Meagan Kearney ’21

Name: Meagan Kearney
Class Year: 2021
Major: Undecided
Hometown: Fairfax, Va.

Internship Placement: The Global Fund for Children
Job Title: Intern
Location: Washington D.C.

Kearney and Global Fund for Children signWhat’s happening at your internship?

At The Global Fund for Children (GFC), I have been involved in many of my coworkers’ projects and the wider GFC events. This includes facilitating large and small meetings, helping move to a new office, updating GFC’s alumni partner files and researching/analyzing Southeast Asia and creating a landscape analysis. Throughout my time at GFC, my coworkers heavily encouraged my participation in meetings. For example, recently GFC held a Theory of Change workshop to help update and streamline their model to have a more focused approach on youth. They would often ask for my opinions and experience.

Why did you apply for this internship?

Throughout my years abroad, I have been lucky to have experienced many diverse cultures and to be able to interact with children. I have volunteered to aid children in Japan, the U.S. and Ghana. While each country has their own distinctive culture, I realized that the needs of a child remains the same. I believe that every child has the right to feel loved, safe and empowered. I knew that LILAC offered wonderful opportunities and when I had read the description for GFC, I immediately knew that I had to apply. Even though I am still undecided in my major, my passion for helping children aligns exactly with GFC’s goal. I believe that my experience at GFC has encouraged and inspired me to pursue education.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship so far was being invited by our Vice President, Corey, to her house for dinner. I went with Ellen, another Bryn Mawr intern, and Lida, a fellow from Armenia. We were able to meet her son and a university student from Brazil who she is hosting for a year. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know everyone better, and my admiration for my coworkers only increased after hearing their inspiring experiences. After the dinner, I realized that the stigma around being close with coworkers (especially if you’re an intern), should never mean that you should distance yourself from them.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

The most rewarding aspect about my internship is knowing that I am helping the GFC team. Even small tasks (such as organizing the supply area) were rewarding because I was able to help my coworkers work more efficiently (even if just a little bit) and with more ease. I particularly enjoyed facilitating their meetings because I was able to organize and facilitate their discussion to more effectively communicate their ideas. I knew that by helping the team, I was also indirectly helping the children that we work with around the world.

Internship Office Internship Office  Post-It Planning

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: 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