By Rebecca Nussbaum
This summer, at least 22 students interned in labs at the University of California, Los Angeles or Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The students had a variety of jobs, such as researching diseases, studying low temperature physics, and working with DNA.
Kristen London â10 and Claresta Joe-Wong â10 spent their summer in a UCLA physics lab working with Professor Gary Williams. Williams was studying superfluid helium, which is liquid helium that has overcome friction and has zero viscosity.
The girls helped wherever they were needed, so they did many jobs ranging from running experiments to setting up equipment to analyzing data.
“Everyone was extremely nice,” London said. “They would always help me when I didnât understand something and I learned a lot from the professor and all the graduate and undergraduate students who worked in the lab.”
London found the internship through her science teacher, Antonio Nassar, and Joe-Wong found hers through a list of contacts provided by Harvard-Westlake.
“The internship was a great experience,” said Joe-Wong. “I learned a lot about what real scientific research is like.”
Pauline Woo â10 interned at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with Dr. Moshe Arditi, who is both the Vice-Chair of the Pediatrics Research Department and the Director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases.
In Arditiâs lab, Woo worked mostly with graduate and undergraduate students. She learned to do polymerase chain reaction, which makes billions of copies of DNA. Woo then performed gel electrophoresis on the DNA, a test which separates DNA fragments and sorts them according to size.
“It was really interesting because Iâd read a lot about the experiments I was doing everyday when I took AP Biology, and now I was getting to do them with real DNA samples,” Woo said. Woo also learned from the work of the other scientists in the lab.
“I got to see other researchers working on their own experiments and learn about the diseases they were researching,” Woo said.
“These internships can be life-changing experiences,” science teacher David Hinden said. “The numbers show the deep level of interest in science on the part of many of our students and is, at least in part, attributable to efforts weâre making as a school to place students in these experiences.”