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SSRL Interns Get Firsthand Experience

(Image)An educational summer of firsthand synchrotron science is coming to a close for the Stanford Synchrotron Research Laboratory summer interns. SSRL hires interns as part of SLAC's summer science program, which includes students from the Department of Energy's Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program, the Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Fellowship program, and general hires depending on the needs and availability of SLAC mentors.

SSRL accepts students with specific interests in chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics. Interns assist with a wide variety of projects including beam calibration, user support, software development and research. Past SSRL interns and their mentors are listed on the SSRL Summer Internships page, with student presentations on their summer projects.

"They’re just incredible. They’re so intelligent. I expect to be working for some of them one day," says Herb Axelrod of his interns. Axelrod mentored graduate student Peace Esonwune. Esonwune was interviewed for SLAC Today's People Today column, as were undergraduates Ben Cherian, John Rabedeau, and Brendon Soltis.

Recent graduates from Monta Vista High School Sameep Tandon and Laura Aguila completed summer internships with structural molecular biology scientist Aina Cohen. The pair assisted with an analysis of different plastics for use as a sample container for X-ray diffraction data collection. "It’s great to work with real physicists," Tandon says. "I like seeing what the day-to-day work is like." Tandon says the experience will certainly affect his future career plans.

Ian White is deep into his studies of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University, and his internship at SSRL produced research that he and his mentor Irimpan Mathews are working to publish. Using the SSRL beam lines, White examined protein crystals that sustained damage from X-rays, and explored methods for attenuating this damage. In his project summary, White expresses his gratitude: "My work at SSRL this summer proved exceptionally valuable both in terms of the development of a critical skill set and, more importantly, in leading me to the conclusion that I am indeed pursuing a career path that I truly enjoy… being charged with the responsibility to think for myself and apply my own imagination in experimental design was a delightfully stimulating challenge."

Students interested in interning at SSRL can find openings on the SLAC Job Web site under "summer hires." Open positions start to appear around mid-May and are posted through late July.

—Calla Cofield
SLAC Today, August 29, 2008

Above image: Rice University undergraduate Ian White (right) and his summer mentor, SSRL protein crystallographer Irimpan Mathews. (Photo by Calla Cofield. Click for larger image.)