Name: Emily Rivard
Tell us about where you interned over the summer and the kind of work you are doing.
This summer I conducted research at Harvard University through the Amgen Scholars program, which is a residential summer research opportunity allowing undergraduates to partner with a Harvard faculty mentor and work under the supervision of graduate students or post-docs in his or her lab for 10 weeks. I worked in Dr. Hopi Hoekstra’s lab in the Departments of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular and Cellular Biology, studying the developmental and genetic bases of natural variation. Using deer mice as a model system, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of adaptive evolution. I had the opportunity to give an oral presentation on my work, present a poster at a university-wide symposium, and attend the annual Amgen Scholars U.S. Symposium at UCLA. This program also offered a number of pre-professional development opportunities, such as weekly networking events and graduate school preparation seminars, as well as fun community-building programs with the other members of my Amgen cohort, including Red Sox games, hikes in the White Mountains, and Boston Harbor cruises.
Give us an example of how you have applied your academic learnings to your internship?
I was able to utilize information I had learned in a variety of my biology courses during my research this summer, including material from introductory courses on organismal biology and evolution and material I learned in my upper-level courses in genetics, genomics, and cell biology. It was really exciting to conduct research that spanned such a wide range of topics within the scope of biological research. I am glad that Holy Cross promotes such a well-rounded education, since I think it prepared me well for working in an interdisciplinary lab.
What has surprised you about being an intern?
Working as an undergraduate researcher at a university was a new and interesting experience. My lab this summer had a different environment than what I have experienced at Holy Cross because it was large and composed of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, laboratory technicians, a laboratory manager, and a PI. I was pleasantly surprised by the incredible welcome and support I received throughout the summer from everyone in the lab.
How did this experience influence or connect to your future career plans / goals?
As a biology major currently applying to PhD programs in genetics/genomics and hoping to one day become a professor, my research this summer was relevant and important to my future career goals. This experience, in conjunction with the research I conduct in Professor Findlay’s lab at Holy Cross, gave me the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to be a competitive applicant for graduate school. My research experiences as an undergraduate have also helped me determine the types of biology I would be interested in pursuing for my future research.
Any internship advice to pass on to other Holy Cross students?
For students interested in conducting research at other universities, I would definitely recommend getting involved with research here at Holy Cross first. Conducting research at Holy Cross during the school year and last summer was really important for me to get the experience necessary to be a good candidate for programs like Amgen or REUs. My research advisor here at Holy Cross was also very helpful during the process of applying to summer research programs at other schools. The research opportunities at Holy Cross are really amazing, so I would suggest chatting with the professors here about possibilities to help with their projects!