Adzo Fiagbenu ’20: Physics Research Assistant, Colorado State

Name: Adzo Fiagbenu
Class Year: 2020
Major: Physics; Mathematics
Hometown: Tema, Ghana

Internship Organization: Colorado State University
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Fort Collins, Colo.

What’s happening at your internship?

I spent the summer characterizing the magnetic properties of a sample that had been sent to my supervisor. This process involved the use of the MPMS (Magnetic Property Measurement System) and the PPMS (Physical Property Measurement System), both of which were designed to detect and quantify the magnetic moment of samples by applying Faraday’s law and the concept of Electrical induction — topics that I had encountered in my Electromagnetism class the semester prior to my internship.


Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship because I wanted to develop my experimental skills. I wanted to hone my lab etiquette and improve on my ability to understand and effectively analyze data. Furthermore, I found the prospect of experiencing life in a university in another state of the U.S. appealing.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

Bryn Mawr College’s Physics Department has a fellowship called the Katherine B. Blodgett 1917 Summer Research Fellowship and I was awarded the funding this summer. At the time, I had no internship planned. But after receiving the fellowship, I spoke with one of my professors who, based on my preferences, suggested that I work with her collaborator at CSU.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of the internship has been troubleshooting the unexpected issues that arose in my experiments: a characteristic trait of experimental physics. A faulty measuring equipment, a contaminated sample, and environmental disturbances for instance, sometimes turn simple tasks into complex and involving projects. This experience has taught me to not only be calm and rational when things go wrong, but also to not let successes impede my judgement.




Mahika Vajpeyi ’21: Grail Insights

Name: Mahika Vajpeyi
Class Year: 2021
Major: Economics and Computer Science
Hometown: Ghaziabad, India

Internship Organization: Grail Insights
Job Title: Research intern
Location: Noida, India

Another school year was nearing its close and not having a summer internship offer by the end of March was disheartening. Dejected and desperate, I stumbled upon Grail Insights, a New-York based market research and strategic consulting firm. Research into the firm’s operations and its clients convinced me it was just the opportunity I sought. Learning data manipulation while helping Unilever improve its retail activation strategy? Taking a deep dive into statistical methods while advising Nike on where to set up its next store in Europe? Wow! Sounded like a dream job for an economics major where I could put my regression models to use and contribute to making a big impact on a big brand.

Extremely excited by this thought, I contacted the recruiting team at Grail’s Noida office in India, my home country. Following several rounds of interviews, I was extended an offer letter and just could not wait to launch into action at Grail.

I learned I had been assigned an internal project with the Allocations team, which is responsible for staffing employees on market research projects. My role required me to study the budgeted hours (effort estimates sold to clients) and actual staffing data with the aim of:

  • Formulating staffing-related business questions to improve employee efficiency and lower cost.
  • Analyzing budgeted and actual time spent by each associate on every project since 2015 to answer the questions formulated and determine data trends/discrepancies.
  • Presenting findings through a report or dashboard prepared using Power BI, a business analytics tool.

I gradually came to realize the importance of the task at hand. I viewed it as an opportunity to discover new insights that could drastically improve performance on all future projects.

Besides analyzing complex data sets using Power BI, I am getting a chance to improve my reasoning skills by writing code in a programming language built into the tool. Moreover, formulating staffing questions is improving my business intuition by forcing me to focus on issues most critical to the firm’s internal operations. This assignment, thus, lies at the intersection of both my majors — economics and computer science which I hadn’t foreseen. I am also looking forward to begin work on my second project in data science and analytics (which would more directly link the two disciplines) next week.

In addition to my daily tasks, I greatly enjoy a fellow intern’s company and have made good friends with several full-time employees. In fact, one of them has even included me on his team in an office-wide cricket World Cup win predicting competition! These connections I am building are undoubtedly the best part of the internship and make me want to go to office each day. I feel lucky to have received summer funding else I would have missed out on this rewarding experience at Grail.

Gaoan Sheng ’21: Loma Linda University School of Dentistry

Name: Gaoan Sheng
Class Year: 2021
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Internship Organization: Center for Dental Research, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry
Job Title: Research Intern
Location: Loma Linda, Calif.

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working in the Center for Dental Research in Loma Linda University. I have been involved in ongoing research and daily tests relevant to infection control in the dental health care unit.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I am considering the field of dentistry after college, so I am actively exploring different areas in this field. Loma Linda University has been working closely with many hospitals affiliated with Zhejiang University, where my parents work. I had heard about dental research that was going on in their laboratory, which bore significant health importance. After my microbiology class, I was aware of the frequent biofilm formation in dental settings. As a chemistry major, I was curious about chemical ways of removing microorganisms, so I applied for this internship.

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

I have been looking forward to living in different cities. I moved to California this summer. To be specific, I lived in Loma Linda for a month. It is a rather small city located in southwestern San Bernardino County. Loma Linda in Spanish means beautiful hills, and the city is exactly as it sounds. I lived with one of the visiting scholars from China. She has been there for one year, and she not only taught me research but also brought me to many places around there. Because of her, I had a great time.

Loma Linda University has been working closely with hospitals affiliated to Zhejiang University, where my parents work. I had also attended several academic workshops in China given by doctors from Loma Linda University, which made me want to be there and explore more.

Even though I have heard about infection control, and I have seen some efforts in clinic, I was not aware of the waterline tests that were performed to check water quality or spore tests to check sterilization until I actually saw them.

There were also some pilot studies to test antimicrobial effects of new dental materials. I was learning new research methods, which will be helpful to me in learning chemistry. In general, it was a great opportunity for me to be in the Center for Dental Research in Loma Linda University.

Jamila Ghazi ’20: BNP Paribas

Name: Jamila Ghazi
Class Year: 2020
Majors: Economics and Political Science
Hometown: Rabat, Morocco
Internship Organization: BNP Paribas
Job Title: Assets and Liabilities Management and Treasury Summer Analyst
Location: New York City

Jamila Ghazi ’20 with BNP Paribas ALMT CUSO IHC Treasurer Kenneth McMullen.

My penultimate year at Bryn Mawr College culminated in an internship offer from BNP Paribas’s Assets and Liabilities Management and Treasury team, in New York City. Currently, the summer analyst program mentors over a hundred interns that stormed the bank with their energy and eagerness to grow and learn over the course of 10 weeks. This selective program is crucial to the recruiting process of the bank, to attract and train young talent around the world. It is a great opportunity for the interns to get intensive exposure to the field, and gain a better understanding of the BNP Paribas culture, before committing to a full-time position.

Being a woman in finance is not unintimidating. Having to enter the field from an unconventional liberal arts background is not an easy sell, either, with the distribution requirements, the Socratic method of teaching, liberal arts combine academic rigor with work ethics, diversity of perspective and depth of analysis.

My experience at BNP Paribas demonstrated that the liberal arts’ interdisciplinary approach, a well-rounded education and good communication skills go a long way in the workplace, enabling one to learn and thrive in any field. Likewise, BNP Paribas’ campus recruitment reiterates the commitment to diversity through their interest in liberal arts students. Zachary Graham, a member of the campus recruiting team, states: “We need students from all types of backgrounds, all types of studies, and all types of schools. BNP Paribas has a school-agnostic approach for its campus recruiting strategy because we believe that our success is determined on our ability to recruit, hire, and retain a diverse candidate pool. We need BNP Paribas interns who can be innovative, who can lead change, and who come up with unique solutions to the very complicated problems of our clients.”

At BNP Paribas, I have become part of a solid and longstanding global bank, with values and a future vision aligned with mine. At ALMT specifically, I was welcomed warmly, mentored, and encouraged to take ownership of certain key projects. Given the transversal nature of the ALMT activity, which necessitates working with various teams, I was able to contribute to other ALMT teams across the region. This has reshaped my understanding of the business and the organization of the bank to a large extent, thus giving me the confidence to learn from people around me, and inquire about future steps to acquire more expertise.

My views on finance, informed by the clichés of the industry, being highly competitive, solely project driven, and very exclusive, have been challenged at BNP Paribas. Personally, I thrive in fast-paced environments that enhance interdependence, multitasking, corporate social responsibility and innovation, without compromising a healthy work-life balance. I was positively surprised this summer, and able to foresee a future for myself in finance. Moving forward, my BNP Paribas experience has set the bar high for expectations from the workplace. This summer has opened my eyes to the possibility of a positive, meaningful and influential career in finance that transcends the stereotypical Wall Street experience.

In light of my experience, my advice to Bryn Mawr students and alumnae alike is the following:

Find a place that continues to empower you, like Bryn Mawr does. Acknowledge the great energy you have as a BMC alumna. Use your proud and loud voice, and your confidence, even if your field may be far behind in recognizing women’s achievements. Where you start your career matters, who you work with matters, and the values of the company matter. So, choose carefully, choose what you deserve. Hold the Bryn Mawr mission high, and renew your commitment to women’s empowerment, wherever you go.

Anassa Kata!

Saumyaa Mehra ’21: Energy Office, Philadelphia City Government

Name: Saumyaa Mehra
Class Year: 2021
Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Delhi, India

Internship Organization: Energy Office, Philadelphia City Government
Job Title: Summer Research Intern
Location: Philadelphia

I’ve always been somewhat of a math geek, and really wanted to understand how math and data are used to solve real-world questions. When I got a taste of it in Professor Victor Donnay’s Differential Equations class while using equations to solve sustainability related questions, I approached him to explore the application of math to sustainability more extensively. He told me about the various projects that the Philadelphia city government is doing to work toward cleaner energy sources, and this opportunity immediately caught my interest.

At the Energy Office, I am working as a summer research intern on the Indego Philadelphia Bike Share program. The program is a part of the Municipal Energy Master Plan, which lays out a roadmap of how we could reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The goal of my project is to calculate the reductions in carbon footprint when people switch to bike-share for travel in place of public and private transport.

As of now, I spend most of my days working with data and my project-head on the next steps to calculate the carbon emissions. The project just kickstarted and I have used some old data to calculate the distance covered by the bikes from 2016-2019 given latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates. Now, after using data from surveys on the shift in mode of transport, I am calculating the associated carbon emission savings. We’re also working on figuring out strategies such as, ways to make bike share more accessible to low-income communities, provide access to urban biking and new-rider lessons to ensure success of the program. And oh, at times, we also collectively treat ourselves to a batch of iced coffees to get those credits on Ritual 😉

Overall, it’s a lot of fun because I am getting a chance to really work on my analysis and excel skills, ask the right questions given a certain research area, and utilize data sets appropriately to help me answer those questions. I am also learning how to network with people and put myself out there in an office environment.

As far as living in a new city goes, living in a city even if it is just 15 miles away from where you’ve spent (and slogged) the last two years is a whole new adventure. While I wouldn’t necessarily call Philadelphia a “new” city for me given its proximity to Bryn Mawr, visiting the city during the cold winter months in the middle of the semester for some dim-sums, as compared to living here during the summer and spending Sunday afternoons in Rittenhouse Square, are completely different experiences. While living in Philadelphia on my own has been a slight challenge, it’s been nothing short of great. The feeling was a lot more unsettling, unfamiliar and scary at first, but as soon as I learned to get comfortable in my own presence, manage money well, started cooking as a way to de-stress and bond with my roommates, summer in the city has started to look wonderful.

Tori Dang ’20: Physics Research Assistant, Colorado State

Name: Tori Dang
Class Year: 2020
Major: Physics and Italian
Hometown: Beijing, China

Internship Organization: Colorado State University
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Fort Collins, Colo.

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working with Professor Kristen Buchanan in the department of physics at CSU to learn more about magnetorhetorical elastomers (MREs). MREs are a class of solids that consist of non-magnetic matric and embedded micro- or nano-sized ferromagnetic particles. They have tunable magnetic properties and as a result are promising candidates for magnetic devices. More specifically, this summer I am doing micro-magnetic simulations to complement the experimental results that were obtained at Bryn Mawr. We are trying to use theoretical model to explain what we see in the experimental characterization. This is done by the micro-magnetic simulation software Mumax-3, a model built in python and an energy minimization program written in MATLAB.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was already working with Professor May Cheng on micro-magnetism at Bryn Mawr, and Professor Cheng has collaborative projects with Professor Buchanan, which is how I was introduced to this opportunity. I decided to come because I knew this research is directly related to what I’ve learned at Bryn Mawr and I could readily apply my knowledge to the project while learning something new. I actually worked here as a research assistant last summer as well, except that last summer I worked on experimental techniques such as lithography and magneto-sputtering.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of the internship is having to learn programming. I don’t particularly like programming, yet as a physics major, I realized that this is an essential skill to have. However I have never really taken a computing course because there was always something else that interested me more. I knew I had to introduce myself to programming at some point during my academic career, as a result I am glad that it happened in the summer, when I don’t have much distraction and can focus on learning and understanding, rather than cramming everything in.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

While I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn programming this summer, it has also been a great challenge for me. For example, one of my tasks was to build a model of the sample in Python. Due to my lack of experience in computing, I had no idea how to put my thoughts into actual codes in the beginning, which was very frustrating.

Riya Philip ’20: ‘Missing Microbes’

Name: Riya Philip
Class Year: 2020
Major: Environmental Studies (Computer Science minor)
Hometown: Mumbai, India

Internship Organization: Missing Microbes (film), Sarah Schenck
Job Title: Post-Production Intern
Location: New York City

Riya Philip

What’s happening at your internship?

Working in New York City this summer on an upcoming film which talks about consequential public health concerns has been extremely rewarding both professionally and emotionally. During these two months, I have been given opportunities to experience the electrifying energy of the city, work with extremely talented filmmakers, and expose myself to an artistic world very different from my own. Sarah Schenck ’87 employed me as her intern to work on producing parts of the film. The documentary, titled Missing Microbes, which is co-produced by Sarah and Steve Lawrence, highlights the injurious influence of antibiotic resistance and C-sections, which are destroying our microbiome and engineering it in negative ways. The feature film also studies how a personalized nutrition program based on microbe analysis can treat diabetes. My role in this internship has been diverse — learning professional editing tools, creating and editing machine-generated transcripts for the interviews from original footage, writing and uploading blog posts, managing and organizing all the data and media associated with the film, coordinating meetings with potential motion graphics companies, and participating in shoots were some of the responsibilities I enjoyed taking on. However, since this is a public health film, the content strictly revolved around medical topics, which allowed me to engage in learning about medical procedures, technologies, new discoveries and the scope of the research conducted by the doctors in this film.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I recently picked up another major last spring, Environmental Studies, due to my passionate interest in the subject, and decided that the next internship I would take on would be related to an environmental issue. I was determined to work on something exciting and relevant to my field of study, yet also beyond the traditional scope of academic subject matter — I was looking for an opportunity that would satisfy both my passion for the content I was learning, and enrich my living experience by exposing me to a completely different facet of life. After browsing through job postings, I came across an opportunity which tied together critical, contemporary foci in public health … in a film. Based on interviews with renowned names in the medical world, and with a prime focus on Dr. Martin Blaser, the author of Missing Microbes and professor of microbiology at NYU, my interest was piqued. The opportunity dealt with crises in health, in particular the overuse of antibiotics in countries like China and India causing antibiotic resistance, the risks associated with cesarean sections, and Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) treatments as a means to alleviate the symptoms of obesity and autism, among others. The documentary’s central message revolves around the evolving human microbiome, and its significance in treatments for diseases, medical procedures and global health concerns.

Another reason I applied for this internship was because of my background. As an international student from Mumbai with a strict focus in STEM subjects, being able to work on a film was something I didn’t know if I could ever do again in my professional career. I also viewed this summer as an opportunity to build connections with people, experience NYC and explore the scope of my own talents, in skills previously foreign to my knowledge.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

In one word? Thrilling. As someone from Mumbai, the Indian equivalent of NYC, Manhattan felt like home since I arrived. I am lucky to have family that lives in the city, which gave me a sense of comfort and security. However, even though my primary work location was in Brooklyn, I decided to live in the cultural hub of historical significance, entertainment, art and soul food — Harlem. I was lucky enough to find a gorgeous apartment right above Central Park, with roommates that I have now formed strong friendships with.

The daily commute across the city to work was an hour long each way, yet the experience taught me to become a master subway navigator — a skill you can only learn through practice! I also learned to scout the best locations for authentic food, visited NYC landmarks, went on tours, met people from a plethora of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, and most importantly, taught myself to become more trusting and open.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

In a nutshell, I have been fortunate enough to grasp several skills — both professional and global in the scope of their applications. Learning to work with a schedule that changes on an almost-daily basis, networking and forming connections with the people producing the film, learning first-hand about the research behind the technologies employed in treatments from the doctors, and most importantly being able to comprehensively synthesize these experiences into something concrete has been advantageous to both my personal and academic outlook on the subjects I study. A special part was the degree of responsibility I was offered within the internship and the trust that followed. I was never treated as just an intern but was instead treated as family and was able to flourish as such. I was given contact with esteemed figures in various industries including public health and film, which has nourished my curiosity even further in these areas. I am also excited to start my independent film project, which will focus on a specific topic in environmental sustainability, as an extension of this internship into the next academic year.

Aditi Parikh ’20: UC Berkeley Language and Cognitive Development Lab

Name: Aditi Parikh
Class Year: 2020
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Mumbai, India

Internship Organization: UC Berkeley Language and Cognitive Development Lab
Job Title: Research Intern
Location: Berkeley, Calif.

What’s happening at your internship?

Currently, we are in the last two weeks in my internship. The project I am working on involves learning about how children develop selective attention and the changes that their social environment plays on the way their brain develops. The project is exciting and it is interesting to interact with new people everyday and explore Berkeley and its surroundings!

Why did you apply for this internship?

As a psychology major, I am very interested in doing research and eventually grad school. This seemed like the perfect internship in that respect. It is also nice to experience being in a big college like Berkeley and work with people who have very similar interests as me. The lab also researches topics I care about such as looking at brain development for bilinguals and attention styles. The lab also has a very supportive and nurturing environment that encourages all its members to learn and succeed.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

The internship has been an eye-opening experience for me academically. Each week, we would have reading groups with all the members of the lab in which one of the grad students would pick out papers for everyone to read and discuss. The papers ranged from topics relating to the research being done by the lab to general ethical and novel debates that are ongoing in the field of research. This experience enabled me to learn about topics that are often not discussed in a typical classroom because its relevance to practical and real-life experiences. It was also interesting to hear the view points of people with different experience levels, such as professors who have spent years working in research, as well as interns who have barely spent any time working the lab environment. I am grateful to have had this wonderful experience

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

Adjectives: Interesting, dynamic, transformative
Nouns: cute kids, eye tracking, new horizons

Cara Navarro ’20: Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Fellow

Name: Cara Navarro
Class Year: 2020
Major: Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: Manila, Philippines

Internship Organization: Bryn Mawr College
Job Title: Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Fellow
Location: Washington, D.C.

What’s happening at your internship?

I’m not exactly doing an internship — I’m a Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Fellow. As part of the fellowship, I’m writing a paper on how Washington, D.C.-area Filipino restaurants relate to urban space and how that reflects Filipino-American identity construction. That involves looking at not only the restaurants themselves, but also their neighborhoods and the geographies of their customers and supply chains. It’s a lot to address, but I’m having fun doing it. I’ve been eating at Filipino restaurants and making field notes about my observations, interviewing restaurant owners, and reading academic literature to contextualize everything I’ve found.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied to the Hanna Holborn Gray program primarily because I’ll be writing my senior thesis this upcoming fall, and I wanted to go the extra mile for that in terms of research. As for why I chose my research topic, I wanted to explore questions of cultural identity and urban space—which I’ve been interested in since my first year—in a city I’d never lived in before. With its growing Filipino food scene, the D.C. area was a very good place to do it.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

I’ve lived in seven different cities so far, and through my research, I’m getting to know Washington, D.C., more quickly than I got to know any of them. I’m not just walking around different neighborhoods with friends in my free time, the way I would if I were interning or taking classes here. I’m spending all day immersing myself in the city and talking to new people. I really enjoy the process of discovering a new place, so I love that I’m doing it for work. Getting paid to eat at restaurants is also a sweet deal.

Crispy Chicken Adobo Bao from Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly in Rockville, MD.

Crispy Chicken Adobo Bao from Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly in Rockville, MD.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

As an independent researcher, I’m completely in charge of how I spend my time: I set my own tasks and schedule my own days. While it’s thrilling to be so in control of my day-to-day life, it’s sometimes difficult to stay self-motivated. However, I have structures in place to hold myself accountable. For one thing, there’s a deadline for the final research paper. I also email my advisor once a week, and I stay in contact with other Hanna Holborn Gray fellows.

Zhuoran Hu ’21: Tsinghua Urban Planning Institute

Name: Zhuoran Hu
Class Year: 2021
Major: Mathematics, Growth and Structure of Cities
Hometown: Beijing

Internship Organization: Tsinghua Urban Planning Institute (THTF Co.)
Job Title: Intern
Location: Beijing

What’s happening at your internship?

My internship is related to smart cities, transportation, and big data. The team that I joined is currently working on an artificial intelligent system named Insight (or called Hui Yan Da in Chinese). This product is mainly used to improve or further solve some existing problems in China’s highway network system, such as lack of hardware equipment as well as intelligence. Currently, a large number of monitoring video images can only be observed and identified by human eyes, so some emergencies cannot be timely detected, which leads to under-reporting. At the same time, some traffic information is not interconnected and shared.

A large number of real-time traffic data collected by the system are sealed and idle. The current situation makes it difficult for the government and the police to manage traffic networks effectively. It is hard to make predictions as well as to identify and deal with emergent traffic accidents at first. The team is able to use machine learning techniques to form some models that can automatically analyze traffic problems. The goal of the product is to improve intelligent traffic management and service capabilities. Most of our clients are local government and some police offices or security departments. People in our group have pretty diverse backgrounds and have different responsibilities. There are people in charge of collecting, selecting, and categorizing different types of data (mostly images of roads or highways). There are also people who build models and test those models. My work is more similar to the first type because of my lack of knowledge in computer science, especially in algorithms. My other work includes preparing materials for conferences, taking notes, and organizing some team-building events. I also make phone calls, participate in group discussions, and brainstorm with other team members. We are trying to train and improve the model so that it can detect more kinds of traffic accidents even under a dark environment with a bad network connection.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied because I want to explore what kind of jobs that I can do with my background in both math and cities. I find organizations or occupations related to smart cities will be a good fit because it is interdisciplinary. I am interested in cities and how people circulate around the city. This internship touches many topics that I am interested in, including transportation and data.

What is something you have learned from your internship that you didn’t expect?

Before I came to this internship, I thought the concept of smart cities is more related to the field of urban planning or urban studies. But actually, the concept of smart cities is based more on computer science instead of urban studies. To succeed in this field, people not only need to have some knowledge about cities, but also need to become an expert in computer science as well as have a deep understanding of algorithms. I believe that if I am good at coding, I will be able to explore more in this internship.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I am learning the company’s own software that is used for data annotations. I am also learning the company’s own chat tool that people can use to send large documents and images to each other. I think this experience provides me inspirations and gives me a better understanding of software developments.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

I think the biggest challenge is to wake up early. I need to wake up at 7 a.m. and leave my home at 7:30 a.m. in order to arrive at the company before 8:30 a.m. The fast pace of the company is also a challenge, because everyone needs to finish a lot of work in a limited time. I think my experience at Bryn Mawr prepared me for the work. I already learned how to work efficiently and multi-task.