Biotech internships offer valuable lab experience

Courtesy photo: Eileen Han (DHS graduate) interned at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine for her biotech internship in 2013.
Courtesy photo: Eileen Han (DHS graduate) interned at the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine for her biotech internship in 2013.

By Cece Cannata, Staff–

Biotechnology, a class taught by Davis High science teacher Ann Moriarty, prepares students for working in labs and provides real-world opportunities for their future careers.

Biotech offers many different internships for students. Most of these internships are at UC Davis and companies such as Arcadia, Agriquest and Novozymes. In 2013, 23 DHS students completed an internship.

There are two main focuses of the class. There’s the classwork itself, which includes activities, labs and the teaching of necessary skills, and there’s the internship in the community.

Senior Max Hagelthorn is doing his first internship this year, and is interested in pursuing a future career in biotech.

“It’s a growing field with a bright future and hopefully I’ll be part of it one day,” Hagelthorn said.

Senior Ryan Bruch says that in class he learns correct lab techniques and use of tools but it is more “learning by doing.”

Bruch studied at Michelmore Lab at the UCD Genome Center. He worked on a project learning cultivation of plants, making PCR primers and analyzing DNA sequences to find the gene for lettuce leaf shape.

“It’s definitely not paper-pushing,” Bruch said. “It was awesome!”

Senior Mikhayla Armstrong interned at Novozymes Biotechnology Company. She also worked with DNA sequencing, although she also learned many other job skills. Armstrong says that time management was a big part of her work.

“With the internship my schedule was insane,” Armstrong said, adding that the internship taught her the importance of reading directions and learning as she worked.

Senior Bijan Varjavand is doing an internship at UCD for a second time. He thinks it will be easier to now do an internship again because of his previous experience.

Varjavand has also learned a lot of social skills through the internship, including how to get his ideas across to others, working on a schedule, and cooperation.

“There seems to be a cliché where all an intern does is get coffee,” Hagelthorn said. He is hoping to avoid this and to “work with people, not for people.”

Moriarty says learning “responsibility, time management, organization, troubleshooting and respect to the scientists,” are all aspects of both the class and the internship, and wants her students to be passionate about science and have confidence. She believes that “they can make a difference.”

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