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Best of both worlds

Summer research internship 'life-changing' for science student

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

Jevon Marsh would like to see more undergraduate students take advantage of opportunities to study and do research abroad.

He spent 12-weeks completing a student research position in Germany this summer, an experience he says was “life-changing.”

Originally from Bonavista, the fourth-year joint honours chemistry-biochemistry student worked at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, a German centre conducting research in the fields of energy, health and matter, located an hour outside of Dresden.

Mr. Marsh participated in the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) – known in English as the German Academic Exchange Service – or, Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program, which offers summer research internships in Germany for undergraduate students from North America, Great Britain and Ireland.

Successful DAAD-RISE applicants are carefully matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors, and interns receive a monthly stipend to cover day-to-day costs.

The program’s objective is to promote student exchange to Germany in the fields of natural science, engineering and life sciences and to motivate undergraduate students to learn more about Germany’s research landscape and study opportunities.

Making the connection

“My project was highly interdisciplinary,” said Mr. Marsh. “It focused on the fields of organic chemistry, nuclear medicine and radio-pharmacy. Basically, I helped synthesize a medicinal agent in a more efficient form to diagnose cancer.”

Mr. Marsh is currently pursuing a double degree in chemistry and biochemistry at Memorial, but wanted to work on a research project that interfaced between the two.

 

Lab interns
DAAD-RISE lab interns from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Photo: Submitted

“What was great about this project is that I got the best of both worlds,” he said. “If you are trying to design a medicinal agent you want it to be effective, so it can be used clinically. I could think about it from a biological perspective to determine what I needed, but then I was also able to incorporate my knowledge from chemistry to get that desired target, that goal.”

Mr. Marsh says that, as a student, it can sometimes be difficult to see the connections between the various courses required for a degree, but opportunities like his internship in Germany can make it all clear.

“The more research experience you get, the more you can see the network. Even though you have chosen to specialize in one area, you realize how they can all work together.”

Mr. Marsh hopes to eventually enrol in medical school and believes his travel experience will help during the application process and beyond.

“So many students focus on getting a 4.0 grade point average during their undergraduate degree, but they neglect all the other parts of the university experience that can build their character, skills and ability to interact with other people.”

Information session

Mr. Marsh and fellow student Lauren Winsor, who completed her own summer research internship in Switzerland this summer, hope more students consider getting involved. They are organizing an information session for undergraduate students in November.

Jevon Marsh and Lauren Winsor
From left are Lauren Winsor and Jevon Marsh at the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium.
Photo: Submitted

“Lauren’s going to give a presentation on how she went about getting her project in Switzerland and I’m going to talk about DAAD and Germany,” he said. “We want students to consider these international exchanges as opportunities to build your international network, as well as adding something to your resumé that distinguishes you from everybody else.

“I hadn’t heard much about international research internships as a student until I started researching it myself,” Mr. Marsh continued. “It’s important for students to see that even though there may be a lot of things on your plate right now, this is something can be of great benefit to you in the future.”

The information session for undergraduate students will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. in EN-2040.


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