Fall 2023

Take the Field Program at MLB’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN – Shannon Conway

Thanks to her enrichment funds, Shannon had the privilege of participating in the Take the Field program hosted by Major League Baseball during this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN. The weekend provided an immersive experience in the baseball industry, with a focus on analytics, operations, and player development. Reflecting on the experience, Shannon remarked, “The program opened my eyes to the intricate world of baseball operations and the crucial role of data analytics in contract negotiations. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about understanding the game beyond the field.”

One notable area of exploration during the program was the Salary Arbitration Process. Shannon gained a comprehensive understanding of the negotiation dynamics between agents and operations personnel. The significance of data analytics in shaping contract negotiations was a key takeaway, expanding her perspective on data utilization beyond player statistics for coaches. Furthermore, she learned about the subtleties in contract wording, exemplified by the preference for a 5-year deal with a 2-year opt-out over a 3-year deal with a 2-year opt-in, showcasing the impact of perception in negotiations. “Both of these contracts have 3 years guaranteed and 2 extra years at the players discretion, but the 5 year contract makes the player feel as if the agent got them a better deal.”

The program not only exposed Shannon to previously undiscovered career opportunities within baseball but also presented a spectrum of roles, from operational positions involving extensive travel to analytical roles with more of a local focus. Shannon also noted that the networking opportunities with accomplished women already working in the industry provided inspiration and have led to valuable connections for potential future collaborations. “Overall, this is an experience that I will never forget and I learned things that I will carry with me throughout my professional career and personal life.”

Developing Experiential Study Abroad Programs in Paris – Michael Eckerle

This winter, Michael used his enrichment funds to accompany Prof. Ryan Sander’s Paris Study Abroad program to promote the “reimagining of study abroad” and to advocate for global partnerships that support student experiential learning rather than the traditional study abroad experience. Michael describes his vision as, “Embracing change, innovating globally, and actively forging prosperous global partnerships to work towards the realization of shaping tomorrow”. His trip to Paris provided him an opportunity to work towards those goals. “In Paris, I was able to establish partnerships providing strategic innovation that allows us to embrace changes in the world we live in, shaping tomorrow as we know it through educational experiences we have never had before.”

Drawing from three years of international experience across 15 countries, Michael sought to contribute to the enhancement of the program by providing students like him with hands-on opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios. The efforts included engaging with over 15 partners, establishing a 3-step approach for involvement ranging from site visits and case studies to short-term projects and international internships. He collaborated with experts like Zach Bastick, a professor at Sorbonne Nouvelle who specializes in globalization and AI, which opened avenues for research, curriculum enhancement, and international opportunities for students.

Michael noted how he had to leverage his international experience with the professional skills he has gained throughout his life. “The reason I have vouched for experiential learning is for opportunities like this, an opportunity to be fully immersed in culture through meetings, work, etc. Culture and traditions are different all around the world, and even more different in a professional setting than in a casual setting.” He also emphasized how he wasn’t just doing outreach for partners; he was instilling the knowledge he has gained to his fellow students abroad by helping them adapt to the local culture and navigate an unknown foreign environment. “Becoming a mentor and ‘expert’ in these things was not something I had envisioned when coming to UD but am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to become one.”

Annual Smithsonian Staff Picnic in Washington, D.C. – Nadya Ellerhorst

This summer, Nadya was in Washington, D.C. interning for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage where she helped film the annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall, edited videos, and worked on written content for the Center’s Festival Blog and digital Folklife Magazine. Expecting the internship to end in August, she was fortunate to have the internship extended and was therefore eligible to attend the annual staff picnic with the help of her enrichment funds.

Nadya enjoyed picnic festivities, including lunch, a free book room, panel discussions, and a reenactor impersonating Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian’s first Secretary. The picnic proved to be a valuable networking opportunity and she noted how remarkable it was to see so many individuals from the institution come together. “I met other interns and reconnected with numerous Smithsonian-affiliated individuals, both from the Center and those I was able to connect with through UD’s Museum Studies program.” Nadya also attended a panel regarding the “Entertainment Nation” exhibition at the National Museum of American History featuring Dr. Ken Cohen, former Museum Studies Program Director and current Chair of Military History and Curator of Early American History at the Smithsonian.

Nadya was even able to connect with a Center member who has experience in documentary work and will be speaking with her in the near future to gain career insight. “I was also able to spend some time speaking with my supervisor (an experienced media professional) regarding graduate school and career advice, which was incredibly helpful as I go about charting my post-graduation plan.” Nadya concluded, stating, “My months at the Smithsonian have been invaluable to me and have helped me discover and solidify my professional passions. It was wonderful to return to D.C. and be reminded of everything I love about the Institution and the dedicated, brilliant individuals who sustain it. I cannot thank the Honors College and the donors who supported this experience enough.”

Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica – Sathiya Kannan

This winter, Sathiya used her enrichment funds to travel to Playa Ostional in Costa Rica to participate in sea turtle research and conservation with the Bioma Travel Research Expedition. Her goal was to sharpen her field research skills while exploring the subject of conservation ecology. Due to sea turtles’ nocturnal nesting activities, the majority of the field work was done at night. The night patrols on the beach provided a hands-on opportunity to measure nesting mothers’ shells, count eggs, and witness the birthing process while daytime activities involved contributing to the release of green turtle clutches and dissecting unhatched eggs to understand factors influencing hatching success.

Educational lessons included a comprehensive exploration of sea turtles, covering evolution, anatomy, physiology, ecological roles, and species identification. “Given the unique location of our research as the only Costa Rican beach to have legal sea turtle egg harvests, a significant portion of our education was focused on the context and significance of Playa Ostional. We read scientific papers on community-based, sustainable conservation and mass nesting behaviors, received a lecture from the refuge’s volunteer coordinator, and watched a BBC documentary on the community.” Beyond the classroom, Sathiya’s cultural immersion experience extended to traditional Costa Rican food, stays in local homes, and exploring the rich natural landscapes.

As Sathiya reflects on her experience, she emphasized the multifaceted impact it has had: “My experience with Bioma exceeded my expectations in terms of hands-on education, cultural immersion, social connections, high adventure, and more.” The memories and connections forged during this once-in-a-lifetime journey will undoubtedly shape Sathiya’s future endeavors in conservation.

Academy Health Dissemination and Implementation Conference in Arlington, VA – Elena Lynn

Elena used her enrichment funds to attend the Academy Health Dissemination and Implementation Conference in Arlington, VA this winter. At the conference, Elena attended information sessions, networked with other researchers and got to present her own project from the summer. “My research was on how storytelling can be used as a method of intervention to reduce hypertension in black americans. This conference helped me affirm the route I plan to pursue for my career. I really enjoyed getting to learn about the field of implementation science and the major topics they are currently addressing.” Some of the things she learned were how technology is being used to enhance this field, the gap in research that is currently dividing researchers from the communities they are impacting and how to address this gap, as well as current topics of interest.

Elena was also able to network and meet some well-known researchers in the field. “One person I met was Dr. Kathryn Schmitz who has done a lot of work in cancer research and physical activity. I had the opportunity to speak to her and I learned about why she chose to go the route of academia. This is something I’ve been considering recently and what path I want to follow for my future.” This conference also allowed her to speak with a variety of influential people such as representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “In the future, I plan to become a chronic disease epidemiologist. This was my first professional conference and has taught me a lot, and I plan to continue doing research and presenting in the future.”

Spring 2023

Interning with Save The Bay in Rhode Island – Caroline Bowers

This summer, Caroline used her enrichment funds towards an unpaid internship working as an aquarist and education intern for Save The Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium in Newport, R.I. Caroline’s day-to-day activities included prepping food and feeding animals, and cleaning and changing the water in the tanks. She also interacted with the public on a daily basis and assisted with the release of animals from the aquarium as well as the capture of new animals. “I gained experience with all kinds of methods for the capture of aquatic animals. I used seine nets, cast nets, otter trawls, dip nets, and hand collection. With the collection and release I got to visit many different coastal ecosystems throughout the state of Rhode Island.”

Caroline also helped with the educational school programs early in the summer, followed by more informal interactions with guests in the aquarium. “I had the pleasure of helping out with the Save The Bay summer camps. I helped to supervise groups of seven and eight year old kids. These camps were very hands-on, we took the kids out on the boats and then to various islands in Narragansett Bay to learn about the ecosystems.”

As a result of the internship, Caroline says that she learned so much about the marine organisms which are native to the Northwest Atlantic ocean. “I also learned just how much work goes on behind the scenes at an aquarium. I made lasting connections with my boss and coworkers, as well as improved my ability to communicate scientific information in a way which is intriguing and accessible to the general public.”

Engineers Without Borders in Malawi – Charlotte Gottilla

Charlotte’s enrichment funds were used towards her trip to Malawi to drill wells with UD’s Engineers Without Borders group. First, they had meetings with the two villages where they were going to be working – Liti and Nkagula – and conducted household surveys to identify areas without nearby wells. They also met with staff from Villages in Partnership (VIP), an NGO they partnered with, to work out the logistics for transportation, construction, and the community engagement events they were going to hold.

By the end of the first week they started drilling. Charlotte described it as “very exciting for the whole team and a little nerve wracking. The area we drilled in is very rocky and, despite resistivity surveys, there is always a chance of drilling a “dry well” with no water. This happened at our first drill site in Liti, but our contractor quickly found a second hydrogeologist to redo our resistivity testing and we struck water on our second attempt. We also had a successful well in Nkagula on our first attempt.” It took about half a day to drill each well, plus a few extra days to blow out the dirt from drilling, test the yield, and construct the grout seal and civil works so they would split their days between overseeing construction and other activities in the communities.

“The concrete poured around the well takes a week to set and the water has to be disinfected before the well can be used, so we weren’t able to see the community members get to start using the wells. But, our contractor temporarily installed one of the pumps so that we could see the well working! After two years working on this project, it was great to finally see our well working, and we were very happy with the results of the trip,” Charlotte said.

Touring and Performing with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps – Matt Greco

Matt, a two-time enrichment funds recipient, used his funds to spend this summer competing with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, a non-profit performing arts organization that competes annually with other junior drum and bugle corps all over the country. Matt made the cut after a rigorous months-long audition process and was soon off to the spring training sessions in Erie, PA which involved four hours of visual rehearsals, four hours of music sectionals, and full ensemble rehearsals every day.

The actual tour began with a series of shows and parades in New England before they headed south through South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma and ending up in Texas. After Texas we made their way back up north (with various shows along the way) to Allentown, PA for the DCI Eastern Classic before heading west to Indianapolis for the DCI World Championships. On Finals night, The Cadets placed 5th out of 32 making 2023 their most competitively successful season since 2015. “Regardless of competitive success, I would not trade my summer with The Cadets for anything. I pushed myself mentally and physically farther than I ever thought I could, I learned so much from the fantastic instructional staff and I made so many deep connections with other people in the corps from all over the world.”

Team VIPER Summer Research Program in Texas – Cody Kelly

Cody’s enrichment funds were used to to travel to Huntsville, TX to intern with the wildlife research program, Team VIPER, which conducts both field and lab research ranging from spatial ecology to animal cognition. He had a variety of jobs and responsibilities, including aiding in the capture of wild cottonmouth snakes. This involved night hikes in local creeks on Sam Houston State University property where the he was tasked with taking GPS coordinates, flagging where snakes were captured, and recording information on the habitat and activity of each captured snake.

Cody’s also aided in experimental data collection during the trials of experiments with the captured snakes. This included washing equipment, recording data, and timekeeping. He also helped process captured snakes which included weighing and measuring the snakes, conference of data in a database, cleaning and setup of snake enclosures, and tagging snakes for future identification. He also had the opportunity to listen to multiple guest speakers and learn about various topics in neuroscience and entry to graduate school. At the end of the program, Cody and the rest of the Team VIPER members presented their literature reviews they worked on during the trip as well as future experiments they would like to conduct.

Competing with the Delaware Choral Scholars in the United Kingdom – Zoe Lipkin

This summer, Zoe had the opportunity to travel with the Delaware Choral Scholars to the UK for two weeks to compete in the Llangollen Choir of the World competition and perform in JAM on the Marsh. “Within hours after landing in Heathrow, we settled into our first intensive choir rehearsal,” Zoe said. “The next few days saw more extensive hours of rehearsal, drilling pitches, solidifying our group’s sound, and training the agility that would be needed to capture expressive changes the conductor could decide to make in the moment in a performance situation.”

This first leg of the trip culminated in a performance at a local church before they made their way to the historic Coventry cathedral and then the Llangollen competition. “The competition was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Tents for local food vendors and craftspeople dotted the sprawling green landscape, the white competition tent its proud focal point and the misty mountain tops its backdrop. Bursts of vibrant song followed you wherever you walked around the competition ground. It felt like a dream,” she said.

In the second week of the trip, they shifted gears to prepare for JAM on the Marsh with the guidance of not only their conductors Paul Head and Arreon Harley, but also of Britten scholar Nicholas Cleobury and emerging composer Christopher Churcher. “During this week, we also visited and performed in Canterbury Cathedral. We got a taste of the more touristy side of England with a steam train ride and fish and chips feast that week, as well. While technically the trip ended Friday, in my heart, the last moment of the trip was Thursday night as the choir came together for one last gathering and pieced together a final encore of ‘Even Me’.”

Exploring Scientific Communications in Europe – Christina Natalini

Christina recently became interested in scientific writing and decided to use her enrichment funds to investigate this field. She traveled to London to visit the University of Westminster and the London Metropolitan University to learn more about their programs. “I learned about the benefits of studying at each of the universities, what they could offer me, and what kind of location I would want to study in. Exploring these two with their differences helped me to get a grasp of the programs and what my time would look like should I choose to study there. This has helped me to narrow down my choices of graduate schools,” Christina said.

Then it was on to Geneva to immerse herself in The Geneva Summer School’s “Scientific Communication in the Post-COVID19 Era” program. There she was exposed to different methods, problems, and tactics of scientific communications. “My classroom was in the Physiscope room of the Science II campus building, which is a room dedicated to teaching the local community about physics using interactive materials. Here, I heard from journalists, researchers, program coordinators, and professors about the role of scientific communication. They also provided activities that gave me a taste of what working in this profession would be like. I found myself learning not only about scientific communication, but also about what my role could look like in it and that I wanted one.”

“Overall, this was a vital experience for me. Going to London and Geneva has helped me to gain a clearer idea of where I want to go after I graduate. There is still a lot I need to figure out before I do, but now I have a stronger direction and more excitement for what is to come after!”

Research, Industry, and Culture in Taiwan – Russell Perdue

This summer, Russell used his enrichment funds to attended a two-week research summer camp at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan. He worked in Dr. Bluest Lan’s Advanced Integration Laboratory, completing a small electronics project and learning about the lab’s current research. He also went on several industry visits with fellow students, including to Micron, a leading semiconductor manufacturer. In his free time, he explored Taichung and surrounding areas with his host students, visiting places such as the National Taichung Theater, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Gaomei wetlands, Wangaoliao park, Sun Moon Lake, and Hakanni peak. He also experienced the famous night markets of Taichung, and only got food poisoning once.

In Russell’s opinion, while the academic aspects of the trip were certainly valuable, what was more valuable was the cultural exchange that occurred between Taiwan and the international students. “Experiencing a place and a culture so different was enlightening, and often overwhelming. It was fascinating to get to know the Taiwanese host students, as well as the other international students, who were from all over the world. Coming from an American background, there were some things that frustrated me about Taiwan (lack of sidewalks) and some things I came to really appreciate (nice convenience stores, good bus network, trash trucks that play music like ice-cream trucks).” Given all the differences, he got a better understanding the struggles that Taiwanese people might face as immigrants to the US. He is thankful to have had this memorable opportunity to experience Taiwan and its people.

Discover Dental School: Summer Scholars Program – Nicole Sasso

Nicole used her enrichment funds towards “the incredible opportunity to use pre-clinical lab facilities, meet with current dental students, and engage with faculty and dentists of various specialties at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine.” These lab activities helped her to further develop her hand skills that not all students, upon entry into dental school, have the chance to practice in such pre-clinical labs. “I learned techniques from faculty and students which will help me to succeed in dental school.”

In addition, this program provided informative lectures and hands-on experience surrounding six dental specialties followed by a hands-on activity related to each one. “I learned from Oral Surgeons how to properly suture by practicing on bananas. I was also taught how to place brackets on teeth during the Orthodontic activity. The Periodontic activity taught me how to use a Periodontal probe to check gum pockets as well as how to scale teeth by practicing on typodonts. The Dental Anesthesia residents instructed me on how to place an IV and intubate a patient before a dental procedure. The Pediatric activity was especially exciting for me because I had never had the chance to practice on baby teeth. The typodont I worked on modeled a child’s mouth, and I had the chance to practice a pulpotomy on baby tooth number 18. Finally, I worked with an Endodontist who taught me how to clean out pulp in the root. After I practiced removing the pulp, I filled the model with gutta-percha, which is the material Endodontists use to fill the tooth after a root canal procedure.”

Nicole described the in-depth exposure to these dental specialties as invaluable. “Over the course of this week-long program, I made several friends, gained excellent exposure to dentistry, and learned more than I ever could have imagined. This program truly gave me a real feel for what dental school will be like in the future and I could not be more grateful.”

Bioengineering Research Internship at Columbia University – Logan Whitesel

Logan used his enrichment funds to volunteer doing research at Columbia University. He worked for Dr. Hasan Ehrbil Abaci at Columbia University Irving Medical Center doing bioengineered skin research. “The Overall Project that I worked on had a lot to do with Engineered Planar Skin Constructs. Essentially these are artificial or engineered structures that mimic the properties and functions of the dermal layer of the skin. These constructs are being developed for various purposes, such as wound healing, tissue regeneration, cosmetic applications.” Logan stated that he learned a lot of new techniques, specifically those involving cell culture, collagen gel creation and dermal fibroblast seeding. “Dr. Abaci assigned me my own project which involved creating a better barrier for the skin constructs. I had to find a way to pretreat the scaffolds with coatings so that they would allow for the medium to deposit the nutrients without interacting with the collagen gel. This project was very important for the ability to easily reproduce the skin constructs they were attempting to make, and also make it easier for them to be made.

Logan stated, “A good portion of the summer was spent on literature searches to figure out the best way to solve this problem. After about a month of research, we narrowed the possible choices down from many different polymers down to about 3 different solutions of pluronic acids and gelatins. With the solutions in mind, I spent the next couple of weeks working on the methods of creating the coatings on the scaffolds. It took a while, but the preliminary results look promising and I developed a methodology for the lab to use.”

Logan also had the chance to spend a couple of weeks helping the other students in the lab on their projects. “The one master’s student I worked with was particularly helpful at teaching me some of the skin techniques that were used in other labs he had worked in. I got to work with him on his project for a little while and while it ultimately did not lead to great results, we did push the research farther than the PI expected.”

Internship at Warner Bros. Discovery in Miami, FL – Mantra Yang

This summer, Mantra interned for Warner Bros. Discovery in Miami, FL. She was the Graphics and Media intern for the Discovery Family Channel. “As their intern I worked closely with the team to complete various tasks related to running a television network. Throughout my internship I worked on programming, editing television clips for social media, and also created and co-edited a promotional video for a show.” Mantra explained that programming for a television network involved deciding what shows air on the channel and when, and that she screened shows for the programming manager and pitched shows she thought would be a good fit for the channel.

“I also created programming schedules related to Halloween and Thanksgiving. I worked with the editor on the team and learned how to reformat television clips for social media. I wrote a script for a promotional video for the television show, Mythbusters Jr. and also co-edited the video with the editor on the team.” Mantra also had the exciting opportunity to perform a voice over for a promotional video for the channel. Not to mention, some cool perks of the internship included being invited to attend early screenings of the Flash and Barbie!

 

Fall 2022

 

Presenting at the American Geophysical Union Meeting – Denise Becker

Denise attended and presented a poster at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in Chicago, IL. On the first day she attended a poster session and explored the exhibition hall, which featured numerous academic exhibitors. There, she was able to connect with Dr. Carol Wilson from LSU to discuss research opportunities since she is in the process of applying there for her Master’s. On day two Denise attended a few poster and oral sessions, the most intriguing of which was about using pollen and tephra to reconstruct the Last Glacial Maximum in central Italy. “This was particularly interesting to me because these are paleoenvironmental proxies I plan on studying in graduate school, and I am interested in the LGM time period,” she said.

On day three, prior to her poster presentation, she attended the Emiliani lecture which is an annual paleoclimate lecture held at the AGU conference. This year’s lecturer was Dr. Kim Cobb who shared some of her research with corals and ENSO. Then came time for her presentation. “Presenting was fun! I was able to answer all questions and presented to over 20 people, including the president of the paleoceanography and paleoclimatology session. In general this was a great experience to explore the wide variety of research happening in geosciences, and specifically in my field of paleoclimate. I learned a lot about both familiar and unfamiliar research topics. This was also a great opportunity to network with potential graduate school colleagues. Lastly, attending my first science conference solidified my love for research and helped improve my presentation skills greatly.”

Medical Internship in Thailand – Alaka Deshpande

This winter, Alaka traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand to complete a medical internship at Maharaj Hospital. She shadowed in plastic and reconstructive surgery and the rehabilitation unit, observing surgeries, procedures, clinic visits, medical conferences, and medical student classes. “It was very valuable to learn about medicine and I was also allowed the opportunity to assist with certain simple procedures,” she said. “Being directly in the OR observing complex reconstructive surgeries was an incredible opportunity as well learning about several conditions and procedures that I had never been exposed to. Shadowing medicine in another country allowed me to see and experience a completely different culture and patient population which has a big impact on illness, medicine and healthcare delivery.”

Alaka shared that the most valuable part of the program was getting to know the doctors, medical students, and staff, and patients and hearing about their lives and cultures and being able to compare experiences with medicine. “I got to learn first hand about our very different medical education pathway and the implications of a Thai universal healthcare system and American privatized healthcare system and a few ways that this affects patients. We discussed differences in everything from abortion laws to recovery and rehabilitation in a collectivist culture with lots of family support versus American individualism that more greatly values patient independence.”

Community Service in Turkey – Kaan Karatas

Kaan is an international student from Turkey. He lived most of his life in Istanbul, the most populous city in Europe, and started engaging in community service activities from an early age. Over spring break, he used his enrichment award to travel back and engage in community service again with the youth branch of the Rotarians organization, called Interact. His schedule included two days of shore cleaning in different parts of the city. Kaan says, “I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who were interested in who we were and what we were doing. A group of young people spending their weekends with trash bags in their hands, cleaning shores and parks is a very impactful sight for the people of Istanbul.”

Kaan also spent time distributing food to homeless people in Taksim, the heart of the city, with a local NGO called “Çorbada Tuzun Olsun” which roughly translates to “Add a Pinch of Salt to the Soup”. “I got the opportunity to talk to the people we helped, and listen to what they had to share. It was an invaluable experience, not just for me, but for everyone there”, he said. He also got be a keynote speaker at a seminar where he shared stories of his past community service experiences with other Interactors and assisted them on how to improve their projects.

Kaan noted, “In the future, I hope to be in a position to give back even more by starting a foundation which would work with the people to hear their problems and work towards solving them. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have so many opportunities available to me, and I intend to make use of all of them. This experience just made me so much more willing and confident in my ability to do so. Thank you, UD, the Honors College, and their generous donors, for giving me this invaluable opportunity.”

Astrophysical Conference in Hawai’i – Dana Kullgren

Dana’s enrichment award was used to attend and present a poster at the High-Energy Astrophysics Division meeting of the American Astronomical Society hosted at the Hilton Waikōloa Village in Hawai’i. This conference brought together over 300 astrophysicists including professors, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, four undergraduate students, and one high school student, to share their work and collaborate over several days. “I work on analyzing simulations of star clusters and gravitational wave data to put constraints on the stellar initial mass function. The stellar initial mass function describes the distribution of the masses of stars being formed. For example, are there a lot of small stars and very few massive stars being formed in a certain area? Or are there more massive stars and not a lot of small stars being formed? Learning about the initial mass function helps us answer these questions.”

This conference gave Dana the opportunity to get feedback and network with physics professionals. “I spoke to many people about my research and met many graduate students. Building these relationships proved to be quite valuable because I was able to ask them questions about physics I heard about at the conference and get detailed answers. I was also able to talk with many of them about their experiences in graduate school and discuss my future career plans with them to hear their opinions,” Dana said. “I also attended many physics talks which were beneficial in two ways. First, I learned a lot about physics which will help me in my courses and research. Second, I got an idea of the astrophysics questions that various graduate institutions are interested in answering which will help me choose which graduate school I want to attend.”

Senior Thesis Research Studying Algal-Invertebrate Symbiosesin – Willa Lane

This winter, Willa worked on her senior thesis research in Dr. Mark Warner’s lab at UD’s Lewes campus, where she studied algal-invertebrate symbioses. For her thesis, she is investigating how acclimation to high light levels and acute temperature stress may lead to bleaching or other physiological consequences in anemones, such as an increase in harmful chemicals known as reactive oxygen species.

“This work is exciting for a number of reasons, but particularly because it uses a relatively new technology to ‘stress test’ corals and anemones known as Coral Bleaching Automated Stress Systems (CBASS),” Willa explained. CBASS are built from plastic coolers filled with seawater and outfitted with heaters, chillers, and a temperature probe. An Arduino computer chip running a Python script talks with the temperature probe to determine what the water temperature is and whether it needs to heat or cool it. Over the course of 6 hours, the temperature in the CBASS is raised to mimic acute heat stress. Before and after the period of acute stress, she samples the anemones to determine how they are affected, and whether anemones acclimated to different light levels or hosting different algae are affected differently. “Stay tuned for results – I will be defending my thesis at the end of the spring semester!”

Passages Israel – Jeffrey Lin

Jeffrey’s trip with Passages Israel was divided into roughly two stages. The Galilean region formed the first stage of the trip. They stopped at the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus purportedly preached the Sermon on the Mount, Capernaum (St. Peter’s hometown), a new site called Magdala, and they even took a boat onto the Sea of Galilee. “The sites were clean, unhurried, and well-preserved, depicting with clarity the structural and cultural features of 1st-century Jewish towns, as well as later renovations,” he said. They also heard from an Orthodox Jewish professor who spoke on common misunderstandings Christians have about Judaism.

For the second stage of the trip they went to Jerusalem. Within the city lies the confluence of the three major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the main Jewish synagogue all triangulate in this area, a physical representation of the tension between religious ideas down the ages in one city. This conflict played out in the Jewish kibbutz where his guide shared the trauma of facing constant missile threats from Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “She showed us a missile that had landed previously in their village. There was further evidence of the conflict with Palestinian Christians and Muslims who had suffered attacks on account of their faith. But there was beauty in the culture, too.”

The group shared a traditional shabbat dinner with a host family and learned about Jewish culture. Then they explored the streets of Jerusalem and enjoyed a classic falafel lunch. “As my time in Israel ended, the wealth of cultural experiences stuck with me. I saw how historical conflicts have shaped the present geopolitical landscape. I was humbled to listen and learn from people’s lived experiences in that complex situation. And returning home, I feel more equipped and called to engage different cultural perspectives and promote dialogue, especially between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”

Veterinary Medicine Abroad in Costa Rica – Catherine O’Leary

Catherine used her HEA to travel down to Alajuela, Costa Rica to work at a wildlife rehabilitation center. There, she stayed on-site and worked daily in the hospital as a veterinary intern. “I chose this place to travel not only because Costa Rica is inexplicably gorgeous, but because the wildlife there is one of the most diverse in the world. Such a wide range of animals provided an excellent learning opportunity for me as a pre veterinary medicine major,” she said. Not to mention, as a Spanish minor, she was able to practice the language with locals, and gained a lot of confidence in her speaking abilities.

At the hospital, she had multiple opportunities for hands-on learning. Her daily responsibilities included diet/medication management, cleanings and feedings, blood draws, catheter placements, and injections as needed under licensed veterinary supervision. One of her favorite memories was working with Grumpy, the center’s 3 year-old two-toed sloth. “Most impressively, my favorite procedure done during this trip was when I castrated a cat on my own. Of course, I had guidance and extensive preparation from the leading veterinarian for this process. Prior to my internship, I had never imagined that I would be able to (let alone allowed to) perform something of that nature on a live patient, but I know now that I had been ready for a long time.” Applying the knowledge she has gained from 3 years at UD allowed her to thrive in this environment and not second guess herself – “I knew I was ready for this next step, and since taking it, I believe my abilities in the veterinary field have grown exponentially.”

Internship at Euroméditerranée in France – Anya Sen

Anya participated in an internship at Euroméditerranée, an urban economic development public agency that works to revitalize the metropolis of Marseille; France’s second largest city after Paris. “Euroméditerranée’s urban renewal project aims to create a modern eco-district in the La Joliette neighborhood of Marseille. Within the larger organization, I worked specifically on the Economic Development team as an economic development strategist,” she said.

In her role as an economic development strategist she worked about 20 hours a week. “I was able to finish the big task assigned to me that was due at the end of my internship about one week into my role. This impressed my bosses, who then expanded my work to fulfilling other tasks and aiding the other people on the Economic Development team.” Her new job was to locate and identify foreign companies that fit a specific target profile that she identified through research on the combination of traits most likely to establish business in Marseille.

She described the working culture in France as “notably different than America, chiefly regarding the pace of general proceedings and the lack of pressure or urgency when fulfilling daily tasks.” Anya’s French improved immensely after starting the internship, mostly out of necessity. Sitting in 3 hour meetings where everybody spoke in advanced technical economic terms forced her vocabulary to grow and helped improve her comprehension and reading abilities. “I have learned new phrases and a lot of cultural etiquette and norms throughout my internship that I believe will enable me to integrate better into French society as a whole and aid me in my hopes of working in the international sphere for the rest of my career.”

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