Vol 8. Issue 26 / September 15, 2008

Forever Summer for Scripps Research Interns

By Mika Ono

While the fall is upon us and schools are now in full swing, some summer experiences are too good to let go completely. Former high school interns of The Scripps Research Institute in California and Florida are building on their newfound scientific skills and knowledge, as well as keeping up with the people they met in the internship program in venues from Scripps Research-sponsored events to a student-initiated group on Facebook.

"Many of the interns are eager to stay in touch, both because of their love of science and because of the people they connected with here," says Marisela Chevez, who directs the educational outreach programs on the California campus. "Some students are even continuing in Scripps Research labs as part-time employees while they're at school."

Back in high school, most 2008 summer interns are now enrolled in their senior year, fulfilling final requirements for college. Thanks to their experience in Scripps Research labs, they now have a clearer idea of their career goals—which often involve science—and the curriculum they need to go forward.

Recent California interns will get some extra help with the next step—the college application process—at the institute next month. The workshop, now in its second year, pairs the former interns with graduate student mentors, who will provide valuable feedback on the interns' proposed outlines and ideas for their application essays.

Over the past several years, interns have gone on to attend colleges including Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as University of California schools.

More Success

Scripps Research interns in Florida show a similar pattern of success after "graduating" from the summer program there.

"Out of the 27 former interns who have participated in our program, seven have stayed on for part-time work in Scripps Florida labs," says Deborah Leach-Scampavia, who directs the program for Palm Beach County students and teachers. "These labs include cancer biology, proteomics, and high-throughput screening."

Leach-Scampavia notes that student interns have also been able to build on their summer experience after returning to school, not only in their classes, but also through competition in science fairs on the district, state and national levels. Recognition has extended into the community for former Scripps Research interns Aruna Khan and Lucas Ortiz, named 2007 and 2008 Students of the Year by the South Florida Science Museum.

As in California, former Scripps Florida student interns have gone on to attend a variety of prestigious colleges, including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and schools in the University of Florida system.

In addition, high school teachers make up a portion of interns on both coasts. These individuals return to the classroom in the fall with new enthusiasm and perspective on teaching science. In Florida, the South Florida Science Museum named former Scripps Research intern Lyn Slygh 2007 Teacher of the Year.

Florida teacher graduates will also use the insights they gained working in Scripps Research labs over the next months in a project aimed at developing curriculum tools and portable science kits for science education and teacher professional development. These activities will be funded by a new pilot project grant from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, which also supports the larger Scripps Florida internship program. 

Facebook Time

But follow up to Scripps Research internships isn't all work and no play.

This summer's California interns are invited to attend a black-tie gala hosted by San Diego's biotech professional association BIOCOM. The elegant affair will bring together teachers, students, and industry professionals on November 22 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

In Florida, a reunion of all former interns is planned to coincide with the ceremonies celebrating the opening of the permanent new campus in Jupiter next February.

And former Scripps Research interns are finding their own ways to stay in touch.

Michael Chen, who participated in the 2006 Scripps California summer program and is currently an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, tapped into social networking site Facebook to create a presence for former Scripps Research interns in a group called "Scripps Forever." His idea was to stay connected with a few of the friends he made at Scripps Research as they all made their way through high school and college, but the group soon took on a life of its own.

"Facebook really helps to connect people!" Chen noted.

Scripps Forever now has 40 members. While the group so far consists mostly of recent internship participants, all former Scripps Research interns—back to the first ones in 1989—are welcome to join. For more information on the Facebook group, contact Chevez at mchevez@scripps.edu.

For more information on the internship and community outreach programs in San Diego County, see http://www.scripps.edu/community/; in Palm Beach County, see http://www.scripps.edu/florida/edprograms/.


Send comments to: mikaono[at]scripps.edu


Former summer intern Kendra Pivaroff is now working part-time in the Scripps Research Jegla lab while she attends the University of California, San Diego, with a BIOCOM Scholarship. Photo by Kevin Fung.













Former summer intern Vuong Dang now works part-time in the Translational Research Institute's Informatics Lab while attending Palm Beach Gardens High School.