Brookhaven Lab Welcomes 2012 Summer Interns

Berkner Hall buzzed with excitement on June 4 as the Office of Educational Programs (OEP) rallied the first 170 participants in the 2012 summer internship programs at Brookhaven Lab.

2012 summer students enlarge

The first 170 participants arrived at Brookhaven Lab as the Lab’s Office of Educational Programs kicked off its annual summer internship programs on June 4.

“The science here is deep and rich, and we’re addressing some of the most difficult problems in the country,” said Ken White, manager of OEP. “Here, the machines are different, the tools are different, and the opportunities are different. You’ll also meet mentors who can guide you throughout your career. This will be a summer of change for you.”

White also discussed training and safety before introducing the next speaker, Deputy Director for Science and Technology Doon Gibbs.

After Gibbs also emphasized the importance of safety at the Lab, he told the new interns, “One of the things that really pushes our scientists forward is the chance to talk to people who are new, because you ask different kinds of questions than we’re used to and you make us rethink things — that’s a lot more important than you may think.

“Besides benefiting science and educating the country, we’re also interested in hiring you,” Gibbs added. “One of the best ways to get young people to come back to Brookhaven is to engage them early in their careers.”

John Carter, director of communications for the Department of Energy (DOE) Brookhaven Site Office, spoke to the students next. He told the students about the importance of safety and personal protective equipment at Brookhaven, appreciating mentors, maximizing the opportunities their mentors can provide, and embracing all that the Lab, a world-class research facility, has to offer.

“Be safe, work hard, and have a great summer,” Carter said in closing.

Fostering A New Generation of Scientists

From 17 DOE laboratories, nearly 800 students were selected for internships this summer. The 170 students who just arrived at Brookhaven will participate in a number of DOE educational programs, including the Community College Institute, Visiting Faculty Program, and Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship.

Students participating in this year’s summer programs at Brookhaven also include members of Stony Brook University’s group, Women in Science and Engineering.

Between now and August 10, participants will work with their BNL mentors in nearly every area of the Lab’s scientific community, including at major facilities such as the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, National Synchrotron Light Source, and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, and in departments such as Chemistry, Environmental Science, Instrumentation, Nuclear Nonproliferation, Physics, and Waste Management.

“While most of our summer students have excellent coursework preparation, they lack the experience of working in a laboratory setting such as BNL,” said Mel Morris, OEP manager of Special Projects. “This internship experience allows students to make more informed decisions as to their future academic and career choices. We are also fortunate to have staff members who realize the importance of working with young students to help prepare the scientific and technical workforce of the future.”

Noel Blackburn, OEP manager of DOE Programs, agreed with Morris and said, “For some of the interns, this is their first experience at a national lab, and we provide a great environment to encourage students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. When we speak with our interns, they tell us much more often than not that our summer programs had a significant impact on their academic choices. This is, in part, due to our very dedicated mentors who make this experience a time to remember for these interns.”

More Students and Teachers to Come

A second group of summer program participants, including middle and high school students and teachers, are expected to arrive at the Lab later this month. Throughout the summer, OEP staff at the Science Learning Center will host elementary and middle school students involved in various camps and programs, including the Lab’s summer camp for employees’ children and the new “Portal to Discovery” camps offered through OEP’s partnership with the Long Island Matrix of Science and Technology.

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