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'Like Winning the Lottery'

Zhen Luo

Zhen Luo '18, seen here on vacation in China's Yunnan Province, says she's looking forward to enhancing her research and presentation skills as well as mastering statistical software.

Zhen Luo ’18 is awarded prestigious international research internship

by Tony Moore

In granting Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE), the German Academic Foreign Exchange Service (DAAD) insists that students must “be proactive when it comes to exchange.” Of course, study abroad opportunities are all about cultural exchange, but the idea of spearheading that exchange yourself might be a little intimidating to anyone heading to another country for the first time.

However, that's exactly what Zhen Luo ’18, who just earned the prestigious award to perform graduate-level work in Germany this summer, is looking forward to most.

“I’m excited for the chance to merge into the German environment by myself,” says Luo, who will use the three-month experience to learn more about the German university system, as she is applying for Dickinson’s abroad program at the University of Bremen. “Admittedly, it is a little scary to handle everything in a new environment alone, especially when I am not very fluent German. But I look forward to strengthening my abilities to converse in German with native speakers, and this will be a precious opportunity to become more independent.”

Since 2005, RISE awards have offered summer research internships in Germany for undergraduate students from colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The program’s working language is English, and it’s geared to student advancement in the natural sciences, engineering and life sciences. Dickinson students have been the recipients of several DAAD awards over the years, and this is the second RISE to be granted a Dickinson student. During her internship with the Research Training Group, Luo will get insight into teaching and research, focusing on the topic "Trust and Communication in a Digitized World." She'll also be paired with a doctoral student to work on a project studying trust in banks.

“As a math and German double major, I’m interested in finding programs that combine both fields,” says Luo, who only started learning the German language once she arrived at Dickinson from her native Beijing. “The internship offers great opportunity to do research in an interdisciplinary context using mathematical skills while allowing me to interact with native students in German.”

With only 300 RISE awards granted each year, the competition is tough, and the spots are usually reserved for junior and senior engineering students.

“I felt that it would be like winning the lottery if I got in the first time I applied for an internship,” Luo says. “I knew there was intense competition, so I am so excited to be selected and look forward to a wonderful experience.”

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Published April 1, 2016