One of the key objectives of ISB involves transferring knowledge gained through research to the community for the benefit of society. The Baliga Lab meets and surpasses that objective through an education program in which high school interns help develop hands on instructional modules for students to use as part of their science curriculum.
Each January, the Baliga Lab posts a job opportunity on their careers website, enabling high school juniors to apply for a competitive, paid summer internship. This internship is much different than typically found in research labs. Systems biology allows students to work with many specialists, directly involving the students in a variety of projects, using many types of technology and techniques. Students gain valuable microbiology, engineering, and computational experience. Due to the unique nature of this curriculum building and laboratory experience, students are highly engaged in creative problem solving as well as both independent and group learning. The internships are focused on bringing these key opportunities to students who typically would not have access to a professional work environment and a state-of-the-art research lab.
In addition to the scientific and educational components of their 8 week internship, students also meet with a variety of the ISB staff allowing them to explore many types of professions and career paths. Who they speak with is up to the students, but usually students meet with faculty members as well as administrative, legal, development, and financial personnel.
The program has been highly successful and is externally evaluated each year, promoting the best experience possible. Jessica, a 2007 intern, who went on to attend UC Berkeley, had the following to say about her time at ISB. "I learned how to work collaboratively in a lab setting. It was also great to get a feeling for what it is like to be a research scientist. I realized that I can come into something being completely ignorant and gain an understanding of what is happening by asking questions and doing research."
"This was a really great thing to realize because it made the knowledge of people in the lab seem a lot more accessible to me and a more realistic goal," Jessica added. "It taught me that I can, although it will take a while, become as knowledgeable about science as the researchers in the lab."
To showcase their work and to document their experience, students learn from a skilled web designer to develop their own . View the pages to learn more about what the interns do during their summer at ISB. If you are wondering what a standard day might be like for an intern, the 2012 interns put together a quick glance into a typical day at the end of their About Us page. For more student comments on the internship, please view this short video featuring our 2011 interns.
Even years after their internships, students stay in touch. Sue Yi, a 2008 intern, emailed us after she completed her BS at the University of Notre Dame in 2014. She was preparing to enter an MD/PhD program and wanted to let us know that her high school internship was, "...a great experience and really good to get started early. My experience in the Baliga lab is what inpired me to try research out in college and look where that has lead me!"