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The Annual Bioscience Alliance Intern Fun Days Returned in 2021

Thu., Jul. 1, 2021

By Courtney Blashka, David Burke, Juliana Medeiros, Sarah Kyker, Jessica Miller, Connor Ryan, Katie Stuble, Rebecah Troutman, and Na Wei

This summer, the Research, Conservation, and Community Forestry departments welcomed 14 interns. The students have been spending their summer working on projects ranging from the crabapple microbiome to forest restoration, to research on forest pests like hemlock woolly adelgid. But, on four Wednesday afternoons, the students have connected with interns from other Cleveland-area institutions through the BioScience Alliance. These included tours for interns from all BioScience Alliance partners: the Holden Arboretum, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

            The students not only got behind-the-scenes peeks at the science happening at each institution, but also experienced the fun that each institution gives visitors. At Holden Arboretum, the tour included a walk up the Kalberer Emergent Tower, where the students heard about Phys-Fest, a science-training workshop funded partly by the National Science Foundation and held in 2018. Phys-Fest brought plant eco-physiologists from across the United States to learn techniques and study the forest canopy using the emergent tower. On top of learning about the unique scientific experience that Phys-Fest offered in 2018, the interns were also treated to the Kalberer Emergent Tower’s awesome views! At the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the interns learned about the zoo’s extensive research on animal care, specifically at the Primate, Cat, and Aquatics habitats. This included a look into spaces that visitors don’t get to see, including the Endocrinology Lab. The day culminated with the interns feeding the giraffe; an experience that visitors can enjoy every day! The visit to CWRU’s University Farm showed the interns the extensive ecological research that is conducted at the university’s satellite research facility, alongside sustainable food production. Research at the University Farm includes studies of plant community assembly and amphibian responses to natural and human-caused environmental change. The tour ended with a walk through the beautiful gorge there! Finally, the interns were treated with a tour of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Not only did the students see the science that goes on behind the scenes, but also took in a show in the Shafran Planetarium and walked through the Perkins Wildlife Center!

            On top of the behind-the-scenes learning and fun visitor experiences, one of the best aspects of the BioScience Alliance tours was the opportunity for the summer interns to learn about the diversity of research and science careers. Often, students think science is only conducted at universities, and are unaware of the important role that zoos, arboreta, and museums play in advancing scientific knowledge and education; and that these types of organizations are potential employers for themselves, as they develop their career in science and conservation. The trips also give the interns of each institution the opportunity to connect with one another. As they move forward in their careers, this networking opportunity will allow them to know others in their field.

            Next week, HF&G interns will end their summer experience by presenting their research projects at the annual SEARCH symposium. This year, SEARCH is being held virtually. We invite anyone interested in their summer work to view the student posters beginning on Wednesday, July 7th at 9AM. The virtual platform for viewing posters is called Make:Projects and allows all who visit the poster session to ask questions and engage with the interns. We ask that all questions and comments be encouraging, keeping in mind that these are students, and they are presenting the results of an eight week internship. You can view the projects starting next Wednesday, July 7th at this link:

https://makeprojects.com/project/hfg-search-symposium

In addition to the online poster viewing, a virtual live event will take place over zoom on Friday, July 9th from 9:00-11:00. If you would like to join us to hear brief project summaries and internship reflections from the students, along with Q&A, please reach out to Sarah Kyker at skyker@holdenfg.org to receive the zoom information.

Courtney Blashka, David Burke, Juliana Medeiros, Sarah Kyker, Jessica Miller, Connor Ryan, Katie Stuble, Rebecah Troutman, and Na Wei

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