Supporting Pinhead’s summer interns helps support the future of our country

Ever wanted to study plants in Hawaii?  Or work to conserve native turtle habitats in Costa Rica?  Or maybe you would prefer sequencing DNA of poisonous spiders? Students interested in science with an adventurous spirit study all of that and more as participants in Pinhead Institute’s 2012 Summer Internship Program.

Pinhead Institute is a science-based educational organization whose mission is to build science literacy by connecting people to the natural world through interactive educational programs taught by world-renowned scientists and enthusiastic educators, mentors, and volunteers.  The Pinhead Internship Program provides students with the opportunity to gain practical skills and experience in various scientific fields of study.  In recent weeks, Pinhead Institute Staff has visited Nucla, Norwood, Ridgway, Ouray and Telluride High Schools to promote the 2012 Pinhead Internship Program.

Pinhead’s Internship Program is open to regional high school juniors whose academic backgrounds and career aspirations lie in the field of science. Now in its ninth year, the Pinhead Institute Internship Program has provided science-related internships to over 60 students throughout the region. Pinhead Interns have had the opportunity to work with people who have followed their passions, dedicating their lives to academic pursuits.

Internship opportunities have included work at the Osa Sea Turtle Program in Costa Rice, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the California Academy of Sciences, NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Andes to Amazon Program in Peru, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, MIT, and Harvard University, to name but a few of the many prestigious and exotic venues.

Pinhead Institute’s Executive Director, Sonchia Jilek, challenges students to explore the possibilities of stepping out of their “comfort zones” to learn more about the world around them. Internships typically last six weeks, in fields such as natural history, biology, chemistry, physics, conservation, and more.  Scholarship opportunities are available and Pinhead Staff works with interns to help secure any additional funds necessary to complete their internships.

Pinhead Intern and Ridgway High School student, Jessica Rutherford, worked with the Amaro Lab of Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California in Irvine.  There Jessica assisted in the development of structural insights that allow for the “linking” of molecules together towards creating better virus inhibitors. In the process, she learned about influenza viruses, avian influenza, computer-aided drug design, protein structure and function, among other important studies. In her own words:

 “I am being academically challenged more then I have ever been before. I have found it extremely intriguing and different from anything I have ever done before. I am learning mass amounts about higher-level chemistry concepts and I am getting to look at the structure and makeup of proteins and different systems. I have gained so much knowledge about the scientific community, computational drug design, and the cytochrome P450 3A4. I have found it all so amazing!”

Another lucky Pinhead Intern from Ouray High School, Ben Anderson, spent his summer working in the Research Experience & Education Facility, better known as The REEF, the University of California, Santa Barbara’s interactive aquarium facility, part of the Marine Science Institute (MSI). There are over 100 different species of marine plants and animals housed at The REEF in the high-tech life support system “Research Tank,” which highlights current, on-going research at UCSB and the Marine Science Institute. Ben spent much of his summer researching the gestation period of the swell shark, leading tours of the REEF, and helping local students better understand ocean life by demonstrating the REEF’s work on the “floating lab” in the Santa Barbara Channel. According to Ben:

“The results of the research [I am conducting] should provide valuable insight into the swell shark’s gestation period in the egg and other valuable aspects of their lives. I am very happy to see something that I created in a position to be  seen through to completion. Once the results of the experiment described in my proposal are ascertained and thoroughly vetted, there will be a published paper with my name on it!

Pinhead just completed its selection of students for the 2012 Pinhead Internship Program. The students slated for placement in leading research facilities and universities are from Nucla, Norwood, Telluride, Ridgway, and Ouray schools.  Please consider supporting one of these bright students this summer as they explore science in incredible new ways.

Learn more about this program on Pinhead’s website or call 970.708.7441 today.

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