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The Road to Graduate School

Usually, internships give students an idea for what job they want. In Madison Weirick '18's case, she's using her experience at the Scripps Research Institute to guide her toward graduate school.

Madison Weirick '18, The Scripps Research Institute (Florida campus)


Biochemistry and molecular biology, women's and gender studies.

Internship title:

Research intern.

How I got this internship:

I got this internship by responding to a listing on a company website or search engine.

What I do, day to day:

I work in the Valente Lab at The Scripps Research Institute. The main focus of the lab is to understand and inhibit viral replication in HIV-1. I am currently working on three projects with my mentor. Some of the tasks that I do on a daily basis include PCR and gel electrophoresis, cell culture, bacterial transformations and mini preparation of samples, sequence analysis, western blot analysis, and mutagenesis. In addition to these tasks, I attend and present at weekly lab meetings, and attend two weekly meetings with the other SURF interns that showcase the research of other labs.

Other internships:

Last summer, I worked at Dickinson in Professor Dana Wohlbach's lab. Her research is in yeast genetics, and working there gave me the opportunity to learn several new skills, and improve upon techniques that I had learned in my lab courses.

Most valuable part of this experience:

This internship has several valuable components to it. First of all, it has given me the chance to see what careers exist for scientists after graduation. I have always pictured myself working at a bench, but I've learned that there are several other career options out there. Additionally, the SURF program has provided us with a lecture series on how to prepare for applying to graduate school, as well as weekly GRE study sessions, which have been incredibly valuable.

Advice for students considering internships:

Apply to as many places as you can, without sacrificing the quality of your application. One of the things I learned this summer is that your personal statement in an application can make or break your chance of getting accepted to a program. And make sure you talk to the professors that you want to write your recommendations early in the application process, and keep them updated as you're applying with important deadlines and decisions.

How this internship has helped me:

I have learned so many new lab techniques this summer that I'm certain I will be using this upcoming year at Dickinson. It's always nice to go into lab and already be familiar with the techniques that you'll be using. Also, the seminar series that this program offers has given me a lot to think about in terms of planning for my future, which is going to be a huge part of my senior year.

Post-Dickinson plans:

After graduation, I hope to spend 1-2 years working in a lab to gain experience and to further explore my interests within science. During that time, I plan to apply to graduate school. The intersection of my two majors had led to my passion in women's reproductive health, and I hope to pursue that study in graduate school. Currently, I am looking into two different fields for graduate school: a master's in public health with a focus in women's reproductive biology, or a PhD. in molecular biology through a program that would allow me to research women's reproductive health in a lab setting.


Published October 18, 2017