Last summer the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences hosted 3 summer interns pictured above. NSF’s Summer Scholars Internship Program (SSIP) is designed to develop undergraduate and graduate student potential through exposure to relevant science and engineering policy, research, and education issues and programs. The students come to NSF for a ten-week summer experience to work in an office that aligns with the students’ academic interests.
Summer 2014 MCB Intern Ariel Parker (second from the left above) shares her experiences:
What was your project while at NSF?
My project was to study the representation of underrepresented minorities (URM) in MCB proposal submission and award allocation. In addition, I began to collect data about the increasing number of proposals submitted by PIs who choose not to report their gender or race/ethnicity.
How did your experience enrich your university experience?
This internship provided my first experience in science policy. Before this past summer, all of my science experiences were in laboratory research; I had no knowledge of how science policy and funding worked. This summer at NSF taught me that science is not just the research but is also about outreach, education, and ensuring that research can be funded. This internship expanded my ideas about what science entails and about science careers. At my college, I now have a greater appreciation for basic science research and am exploring some of the alternative science careers I learned about at NSF.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
I enjoyed everything about the internship – the helpfulness of all my mentors, the openness of the program directors, the group meetings, and the division retreat. However, I think my favorite part was the trip to the Plant Biology 2014 Conference in Portland. It was here that I saw how important NSF’s and specifically MCB’s work is: many of the posters were possible due to funding from MCB/NSF, and a great number of principal investigators came to the NSF co-sponsored workshop to learn about funding opportunities. I learned a lot on the sixth floor of the NSF building, but it was not until I went to the conference that I saw first-hand how far-reaching MCB’s work is.