Students Enjoy an Enriching Experience Working Side-by-Side With MPFI Scientists

17-year-old Seoyoung Kwon has studied about neuroscience in her science classes at Dreyfoos School of the Arts, but a one-of-a-kind summer internship opportunity allowed her to get up close and personal with what makes the brain work. Kwon is one of seven area high school students who have completed an intensive six-week summer internship program at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI). The students worked with scientific mentors, gained hands-on lab experience and even used MPFI’s STED super-resolution microscopy lab, which is one of the most advanced version of Nobel Prize winning imaging technology available in all of North America. The experience was eye-opening for Kwon, who said “I never knew there were that many types of neurons ­­– they all look nothing like the textbooks that you see!”

MPFI’s summer internship program began June 11 and ended July 20 with students giving presentations on their scientific project, which included neuroscience, scientific programming, and mechanical engineering. The experience provides a rare chance to gain real world lab experience outside of a high school setting, and get a glimpse of what life would be like as a future science professional. “I learned a lot and it was great to be around a lot of science for six weeks,” Kwon said. ”As an intern, you learn a lot about research and what a career in science will look like. It’s really different from your normal high school labs,”

In addition to Kwon, the 2018 MPFI internship class includes: Nikita Thomas, Suncoast Community High School; William Swann, Saint Andrews School; Subhash Kantamneni, Suncoast Community High School; Cameron Pirozzi, The Benjamin School; Eugenia Victoria Gomez, Spanish River Community High School; and Winston Cheung, Atlantic Community High School. The students were selected from a pool of more than 130 highly-qualified applicants who are entering their junior or senior year of high school. In addition to consideration of academic accomplishments, applicants had to submit two essays and provide minimum of two recommendations from past or present science teachers.

This is the eighth year that MPFI has offered the internship program, which offers students a chance to learn about brain structure, function and development, and the advanced imaging techniques and technologies used in neuroscience. Each student participated in research projects alongside MPFI scientists, prepared a written scientific abstract based on their research project, and delivered a short presentation at the end of the program, giving them unparalleled hands-on academic and lab experience. Past Max Planck Florida interns have gone on to prestigious universities including Yale, Stanford, MIT and the University of Florida.

Plans are already underway to continue the internship program in 2019. Applications for the 2019 internship class will begin to be accepted January 7 through March 3, 2019. To learn more, visit MPFI summer internship program is funded and made possible by the Gertrude E. Kelly Charitable Foundation, The J.M. Rubin Foundation, and The Max Planck Florida Brain Trust.