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August 24, 2010 > Four students intern at Berkeley

Four students intern at Berkeley

By Elisa Ting
Photos By Courtesy of Julie Chao

The U.S. Department of Energy provided a rare opportunity this summer for students to work with university professors in the fields of science and medicine in Berkeley.

Mission San Jose High School students Richie Zeng and Jordan Zhang, along with two former high school graduates from Fremont, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona student Daniel Roseguo and University of California, Berkeley student Jakk Wong, interned at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to carry out experiments in their fields of interest.

After learning about this internship online, the four students applied through the U.S. Department of Energy for the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI). All applications were filtered through the Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE). The applicants were then separated into different lab divisions by interests and selected accordingly. Mentors were assigned by intern interests and worked with them to investigate projects.

Zeng worked with the Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO) to upgrade the XM-1 X-ray microscope, used to study malaria. "It was a great experience dealing with a real piece of scientific history," said Zeng, who worked on the software aspect of a project to create a cleaner version of the code that enables more control over the lens of the microscope. With three other interns, Zheng wrote instructions on how to install and use the codes they had created. Besides working in the lab, Zeng also had the opportunity to meet the world record holder for the discovery of chemical elements, Al Ghiroso and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot, the scientist who helped prove the "Big Bang" by studying background radiation in space.

Zhang, on the other hand, worked in the field of microbiology, where he learned about fermenting sugar into alcohol. He experienced the process of DNA changing into proteins and techniques on how to create bioethanol. "I went in looking to learn about microbiology, and they did a great job pairing me up with mentors," said Zhang. After working in a real laboratory, Zhang became more interested in microbiology engineering. He aspires to complete more lab work in the future and major in a medical-related field in college.

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona student Daniel Roseguo interned with scientist Gao Liu to work on new battery technologies for transportation. Although Roseguo felt intimidated by such an intellectually rigorous atmosphere, he continued to strive to improve his research methods. He met interns from all across the country including students from Washington, Texas, and New York. Roseguo spent ten weeks learning about lithium ion battery electrode materials and making laminates of varying composition ratios. He put cells in a Maccor Battery Testing Machine to determine what electrode composition ratio has the best capacity retention. "I plan to use my experiences in a researching and working environment here at the lab to springboard into my next job and apply what I've learned," said Roseguo.

University of California, Berkeley student Jakk Wong interned with the Molecular Microbial Ecology Department. He compiled experimental metadata for the GreenGenes.lbl.gov database and analyzed data generated from PhyloChip microarrays for a project in collaboration with the University of California, Irvine. Although the internship was fast-paced, Wong enjoyed his opportunity to write a scientific research paper and to think through his project like a scientist. "I learned that science provides solutions to many of the world's problems and enables us to improve our quality of life." Wong added, "In order to invest in the advancement of science, science education is important so that not only can more people engage in science, but also bring critical and scientific thinking to their work."

Overall, the students greatly enjoyed their experience at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The mentors and professors offered a professional working environment that helped guide the interns in a career-oriented direction. Wong sums up, "I will continue to practice critical thinking in my profession as well as support science education in the future by advocating public engagement and voting for polices that will benefit society."

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