Dr. Xiaosheng Huang, Dr. Ann Almgren, and Dr. Neslihan Taş Baas (Left to right)
E. O. Lawrence, the founder of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), believed in the importance of teamwork. His ‘Team Science’ approach emphasized that every person on a team performs a valuable role on a team. Berkeley Lab’s Workforce Development and Education (WD&E) department embraces this value. Our programs offer interns an opportunity to team up with incredible Berkeley Lab staff and discover amazing mentors. At Berkeley Lab, our interns and Nobel-prize winners have a seat at the table.
WD&E facilitates 11 different internships at Berkeley Lab. Our team connects the Lab’s scientists and researchers with interns from universities and colleges around the United States. Some of the most popular programs include the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI), Visiting Faculty (VFP) and the Community College Internship (CCI) programs. We are very lucky to have researchers who volunteer their time and take our interns under their wing. In 2021, 120 interns worked closely with researchers at Berkeley Lab. Some mentors go above and beyond. In addition to teaching standard scientific practices — such as coding and building models — they teach interns how to use cutting-edge equipment that they wouldn’t be able to access elsewhere. The success of our programs depends on these generous STEM professionals. In a normal year, we celebrate our mentors at an awards reception held at the Lab in September. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in lieu of our usual recognition ceremonies, we are virtually recognizing three of our upstanding mentors, who served in 2021. We are grateful to all of the mentors who adjusted their projects in 2021, in order to work remotely with our interns during the pandemic.
Spring 2021 Awardee
Dr. Xiaosheng Huang is an associate professor at the University of San Francisco. At Berkeley Lab, Huang has worked with interns to analyze data from the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys. “I think one of the most remarkable qualities of Huang,” one of his interns told us, ” is his ability to balance giving us ownership and responsibility over our own projects while also giving us incredible support in said projects.” His interns expressed how Huang’s support has allowed them to feel agency in their own work. Huang meets frequently with his interns and answers any of their questions. His interns praise him for providing constructive, detailed feedback on their research papers. Huang replies, “I try to give [my interns] a piece of the puzzle that is within their capability to solve that can lead directly to scientific results and advance a little bit our understanding of the universe. And they get this, and their energy and ingenuity often take them farther than I could have imagined.”
Summer 2021 Awardee
Dr. Ann Almgren is a Senior Scientist for the Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering in the Applied Mathematics and Computational Research Division. Her interns have praised her for her compassion as a teacher. Almgren supported her interns as they enhanced their skills in debugging code and creating software. Her constant reinforcement and feedback creates an encouraging environment. “Working with Ann was a life-changing experience,” explained one intern. “People like her truly make science fun to do.” Almgren says, “Mentoring undergraduates is especially satisfying — when someone tells me that part of the reason they decided to go to graduate school is because of their experience as an intern at LBNL, I know that the time and energy we invest in mentoring are 100% worth it.”
Fall 2021 Awardee
Dr. Neslihan Taş Baas is a Research Scientist in the Climate & Ecosystems Division. Her intern describes that, even during a virtual internship, Baas helped them find ways to connect with scientists across Berkeley Lab. Baas listened carefully to the intern’s particular interstests and sent them additional materials. She profided detailed verbal and written feedback on the intern’s work. “She would always make time to meet with me despite her busy schedule and showed interest in my well-being,” the intern commented, ” and how I felt about how the internship was going.” Baas believes that internships provide interns with crucial learning moments. “On a personal level, the biggest reward of my efforts as a mentor is to learn when my interns were able to get jobs they wanted or further their education (in part) because of the skills they acquired in my lab. I am even more proud, when interns want to stay in Berkeley Lab to further their projects.”
To see the 2021 Outstanding Mentors Award Flier, please click here.
To see our 2019 and 2020 Outstanding Mentors, Dr. Edward Baidoo, Dr. Michael Gerhardt, Tracy Mattox, Dr. Talita Perciano, Dr. Arun Persaud, and Dr. Haruko Wainwright, please click here.