(Top and bottom image) Interns, guests, and WD&E staff gathered virtually for the Summer 2021 Intern Poster Session.
Have you ever thought about how algae protects itself against the sun’s harsh rays? Or how computer modeling might help us unlock the secrets of cancer cells? Over the summer, 65 interns worked closely with Berkeley Lab scientists to investigate these sorts of questions. They shared their results with their colleagues, friends, and mentors on August 4th, during the Workforce Development & Education department’s Summer 2021 Poster Session. 128 people joined together virtually to celebrate the achievements of these interns. WD&E Director Colette Flood started off the session by thanking the interns and their mentors for their hard work this term. Reflecting on the hybrid nature of these virtual internships, Flood said, “We are learning new ways to collaborate. You are trailblazers! We are proud of how you are all working together and collaborating in this unique environment.”
Over the summer, these interns rose to the challenge of remote collaboration. Many used the opportunity to build and strengthen their computer engineering skills. Natalia Martinez Ojeda was a graduate student at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico and an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intern. She learned Python and developed a materials literature computer model that could identify the appearance of hectorite across a research database. She loved it. “This project stole my heart,” Martinez Ojeda told visitors. “Once I found out about this project, I wanted to work on it.”
Rakshya Sharma also had a wonderful time conducting research. This was Sharma’s first time as an intern. Currently a student at Ohlone College, Sharma heard about WD&E’s internship programs when Director Flood made a presentation to Ohlone STEM students in 2019. After chatting with Flood, Sharma was inspired to apply to the Community College Internship (CCI) program. She worked on Berkeley Lab’s ECO-Pod project. She plans to continue taking courses in computer science CS and pursuing a career in this field.
As a Visiting Faculty Program (VFP) Student intern this summer, Diana Camero learned about two task-scheduling mechanisms: quantum-annealing-enabled TIGER and fine-grain HPC-abled ATMapper. She explained, “They each were designed to solve different optimization problems but can be used together for High-Performance Computing.” During her internship, Camero learned crucial skills in scientific development, such as writing research papers and organizing content for presentations. She also learned many valuable interpersonal skills that she knows are necessary for a science professional.
While many interns learned a lot from their mentors, their mentors were learning from them at the same time. Dylan O’Ryan, a CCI intern from San Joaquin Delta College, had a background in fieldwork. He was interested in gaining skills in data management. Working with Dr. Robert Crystal-Ornelas, he created water quality datasets to demonstrate how data providers could submit data to the Environmental Systems Science Data Infrastructure for a Virtual Ecosystem data repository (ESS-DIVE). Crystal-Ornelas noted that O’Ryan’s knowledge of working in the field greatly helped him and the others gain perspective about ways to develop data standards for researchers.
Several other interns reported that their internships help them think about future careers. “Before my internship,” Thy Huynh said, “I had only a vague idea about graduate school.” During his internship, he was immersed in materials science and loved how it combined different fields – like physics, engineering, and computer science. Huynh said that his internship motivated him to develop a foundation in all these areas so that he could be a strong applicant for graduate school programs. Similarly, Amanda Pereira had a strong background in data analysis, but was intrigued by data management. After her summer working with data access pattern analysis, Pereira plans to learn more about a career in data management. Gumaro Contreras remarked that one of his favorite parts of the internship was the opportunity to meet postdocs at the lab and learn about post-graduate work.
The poster session helped some interns dream about their future in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields; it helped others think about what they might take next semester. No matter where their scientific journey takes them, WD&E interns will always have a home at Berkeley Lab. As Director Flood told them at the start of the session, “We are here to support you in all of your future endeavors.”