Student interns are rewarded for a summer of science

In August, 2011, the Human BioMolecular Research Institute (HBRI) granted four eminent San Diego students scholarship awards, as a reward for their efforts over the 2011 summer as student interns at the HBRI labs. The four students came from disparate backgrounds but all had a common characteristic — they excel in the classroom and in the lab. The HBRI is a non-profit research institute doing fundamental and practical research for the common good. The interns for this past summer join an eminent group of 71 fellow interns from San Diego high schools and colleges that have done cutting edge research at HBRI over the past 13 years.

Alyssa Morgosh is a recent graduate of Bishop’s School of La Jolla, and is attending Bates College, Lewiston, Maine. At Bishop’s School, Alyssa was involved, with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and as a Community Service Representative for ASBC, among other activities. Alyssa will also bring her success as captain of Bishop’s soccer and track teams to Bates College, and is already in intensive training for her fall soccer season. She intends to major in neuroscience with a minor in chemistry at Bates College.

Emily Smith is a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (SLO), and an alumna of Torrey Pines High School in Carmel Valley. She received her bachelor degree in biological sciences at SLO, with a concentration in molecular and cell biology. As a student at SLO, Emily was very involved with college activities and helped with student orientation during the 2009 and 2010 school years. She was also a member of the SLO University Union Advisory Board, representing the students of the College of Science and Math. She also did extensive undergraduate biochemical research while at SLO and hopes to embark in a career related to molecular science in the future.

Hursuong Vongsachang is currently a senior at San Marcos High School. Hursuong is a member of the San Marcos City Council Youth Commission, and co-founded the San Marcos Youth Orchestra. When she wasn’t working at HBRI doing research, she taught orchestra to 24 beginning students. Hursuong is actually the second member of her family to receive a coveted Summer Internship at HBRI. Her sister, Hurnan, was an intern with HBRI during the summer of 2008. Hursuong hopes to study Biology in college after her graduation from high school in 2012.

Ingrid Zyserman is an alumna of Torrey Pines High School in Carmel Valley. After high school she spent three years at Mira Costa College as a student and also taught a semester of evolutionary biology. She is currently at UCSD this fall to complete an undergraduate degree in biochemistry/cell biology. Ingrid moved to the U.S. with her family from Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2005, and has volunteered at the Carmel Valley Pet Clinic, the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon, and at a Christian Community Theater in San Diego.

The HBRI summer internship focuses on research. For a period of eight to 10 weeks the four student interns were mentored in the lab by HBRI scientists participating in actual experiments, learning hands-on about the research done at HBRI, and what life is like working in a lab environment. Each student chose to specialize in one of three areas of focus: Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry or Molecular Biology. The interns ran experiments, took part in ongoing projects and helped write manuscripts that will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Some of the students are majoring or plan to major in the sciences in college, and will be able to use this internship to further their education toward a future degree in science or medicine.

Hurnan Vongsachang, one of HBRI’s former interns currently at Harvard University, said “I liked working at HBRI because of the exposure to the scientific experiments and procedures conducted in a real world environment. The internship introduced me to the daily practices occurring in a professional working environment, which consequently further motivated me to continue pursuing my interests in biology. Being able to engage in detailed scientific procedures and associate myself with reputable scientists definitely fueled my enthusiasm”. Other graduates of the summer internship program have also listed the “hands on experience” and “friendly work environment” as highlights of their program.

John Cashman is president of HBRI. Cashman recently commented on his passion for student education: “When I think about our responsibility for the future, I immediately think of our children and young students. I think it is our critical duty as a society to make sure children and students have the resources and support to excel in life and prosper in science education. HBRI is trying to do its part to contribute to this ongoing process.”

HBRI is a nonprofit research institute in San Diego, CA, focused on basic research to help find solutions for diseases of the brain including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases as well as heart disease and cancer.

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