Frontiers

Joyce Kim, C'15, Political Science
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations

Kim conducted research and wrote memos for draft-resolution consultations on the General Assembly Resolution on the Report of the International Criminal Court. Her findings assisted South Korea in future formulations of its official position on the Report of the International Criminal Court. Kim also served as one of the youth delegates for the annual “United for Youth–Beyond 2015” forum sponsored by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Her thoughts on education will be incorporated into the Youth Forum report that will be used during the high-level consultations for ECOSOC’s Sustainable Development Goals. She also assisted in the planning and implementation of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s 70th birthday event.

“Working at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations was an invaluable experience. Through unparalleled access to the U.N. I learned about areas I am passionate about as well as areas where I never would have expected to gain knowledge. I now better understand the day-to-day operations of the U.N.. Although many understand the symbolic value of the United Nations, what is not as well-known are the complexities of how the U.N. is structured along with the scope of work that it does. Through this internship I was able to have an insider’s look at the U.N.; I was able to see multilateral diplomacy from the forefront."

Shuhao Fan, C'16, French
Independent research: “Investigating Various Political Actors’ Influence on Lawmaking through China’s Legislature,” with faculty mentor Yuhua Wang, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Fan conducted research on China's legislative process in Beijing and Shanghai, in order to learn more about how an authoritarian legislature works. With a focus on the ways in which interest groups participate in legislation, Fan looked into the stages drafts undergo in order to become a law through the legislature. He interviewed university professors and NGO members active in legislation, as well as officials and staff working at National People's Congress and Shanghai People's Congress, China's national and local legislatures. The field study in China has provided Fan with insights which will form the basis of his working paper.
“First-time independent research was a challenging yet extremely rewarding experience.”

Gautam Nagaraj, C’17, VIPER
Drndic Lab

Nagaraj worked on several projects in the lab of Professor of Physics and Astronomy Marija Drndic. The main project he worked on has to do with the use of graphene nanoribbons to detect the translocation of DNA through a nanopore. For the project he designed a fluid cell to house the experiments and a grounding board to prevent the buildup of static charge.

“Going forward, we hope to be able to sequence the entire human genome in fifteen minutes for a fraction of the cost. Being able to contribute to the work of the lab, even after just one year at Penn, is immensely rewarding. This experience really helped me understand what it means to do research and the challenges that it poses. Unlike classes, there is no right answer out there; instead, you have to define it.”

Thoba Grenville-Grey (far right), C’14, Philosophy, Political Science and Economics (PPE); Josh Tycko, C’14, Mathematics; Eric Kauderer-Abrams, C'14, W'14, Materials Science and Engineering; Spencer Penn, W'14, ENG'15; Morgan Snyder, ENG'16
Sweet Bite
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Five friends from Penn launched Sweet Bites in Bangalore, India, where they spent this summer distributing xylitol gum to impoverished youth to help prevent tooth decay. Xylitol gum has been scientifically proven to improve dental hygiene and has been FDA approved for decades. The team’s business plan includes health messaging and employment of local youth. Sweet Bites was recently listed as the #1 Simple Invention Changing the World on the Huffington Post and is one of six finalists for the $1,000,000 Hult Prize for social entrepreneurship. The finals are in September.

"When it comes to long term, chronic diseases like tooth decay, it's always going to be a challenge to measure impact. You can think about the cavities prevented, or the family money saved on tooth extractions, or the government money saved on public health interventions. To me, it’s most important to realize the impact is in the education. That's where sustainable change is created. That's why we work in schools, teaching kids about toothbrushing and xylitol. Sweet Bites is less about chewing gum than it is about the simple idea: ‘Your dental health matters, and you can do something about it.’" 
-Josh Tycko

Bryan Choo, C'16, W'16, Biology (LSM)
Carlsberg Labs, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Carlsberg Research Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, has witnessed significant scientific discoveries such as the establishment of the pH scale, methods of quantification of nitrogen in organic compounds, and the world’s first-ever pure yeast strain for beer brewing. While at Carlsberg Choo was exposed to numerous aspects of their research and discovery process, including cutting-edge chemistry such as MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry analysis and Liquid Chromatography, which are used for the characterization of beverage samples and quality control to new product development.

“With the unique background and skills afforded by the Vagelos Life Science and Management program, I was also able to help evaluate scientific projects from a business perspective and analyze the commercial potential and viability of new projects. Denmark is a gorgeous city and summer there is simply magnificent. I’ll miss the great coffee, wonderful public parks, and most of all the lovely people."

Elizabeth Vaziri, C’15, History
Kislak Center for Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections


As an intern at the Kislak Center for Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Special Collections, Vaziri engaged directly with materials and strengthened her knowledge of library work and preservation. She transcribed a large portion of the William Steig journals recently donated to the collection, helped to edit an interview with a prominent Dreyfus scholar, and worked directly with patrons.
“Part of what set my internship at the Kislak Center apart from comparable opportunities offered at other institutions was the trust and experience I was given as an intern. This allowed me to learn the odds and ends of rare book librarianship, from the sometimes unglamorous tasks of conservation to the excitement of handling a copy of a book annotated by Benjamin Franklin.”

Kim Kolor, C’15, Religious Studies
Independent research: “Color-Coding the Margins: Socio-Spatial Negotiations of Community Identity in Eastern Sri Lanka,” with faculty mentor Justin McDaniel, Professor of Religious Studies

Kolor spent the summer in eastern Sri Lanka conducting ethnographic research at the boundary between two ethnically-segregated communities in order to explore how material culture shapes everyday lives and relationships between them. She participated in all aspects of daily life, from preparing meals to attending weddings to late-night conversations with her host family. Kolor conducted formal interviews and collected a number of photos, newspaper clippings, religious brochures, and texts. 

“While researching in Sri Lanka, I learned that it is better to offer flowers one-by-one before a Buddha statue, never wear nail polish when praying at mosque, and never forget your bangles when going to Hindu temple. I was also witness to the ways in which religious discourses of inclusion and exclusion in both doctrine and practice have a profound impact on ways of creating and judging beauty.”

Andres de los Rios, C’17, undeclared
Office of the Curator – University of Pennsylvania

As intern at the Curator’s Office of Penn’s Art Collection Rios worked on a variety of assignments, most of which were related to “Shared Visions,” the new exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery. He researched and wrote about works of great Mexican artists such as Tamayo and Orozco, photographed every step of the set-up for the exhibition, recorded audio tours for the public, and reported the condition of every work of art exhibited.

“Working at Penn’s Art Collection showed me how the art exhibited in museums everywhere is merely the tip of the iceberg: Beneath are countless hours of effort, planning, research, and work that most of the time lie unseen by the public.”

Naomi Tsai, C’15, English
Kelly Writers House

As an intern with Kelly Writers House, Tsai proposed and developed a new online literary magazine for 7-12th graders called The Bell. A unique element of this youth magazine is the in-depth feedback and constructive criticism provided by staff members on the submissions. It is an opportunity for youth both to get published and receive one-on-one mentorship. Tsai developed the magazine's website, created promotional materials, reached out to community leaders, and visited youth writing camps. The magazine will launch this fall. Friday cookie baking was also par for the course at Kelly Writers House.

“Through my internship at Kelly Writers House, I built an online magazine from the ground up, gained confidence as a leader, and learned how to make the best chocolate chip cookies (ever!)”

Emma Pfeiffer, C’15, Architecture
Institute of Contemporary Art

Pfeiffer’s responsibilities at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) ranged from doing research for upcoming exhibitions to helping to implement ICA’s Wednesday night public programs. 

“The ICA has always played an important part in my Penn experience because of its special place in Philadelphia’s arts community, but this internship allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how the groundbreaking exhibitions and public programs come together. I got a fantastic insight into the myriad roles of a small arts institution. The ICA’s size means that there is a great deal of collaboration between departments and staff members. I had the chance to experience types of work that extended far beyond the basic description of my internship. Furthermore, I really enjoyed working with and getting to know many of the inspiring people who work at ICA. I was able to engage with the museum’s amazing work in ways that I never would have been able to without such a sustained interaction.”

Caroline Yost, C’15, English
Writers David Stern and Stuart Gibbs

Yost interned in Los Angeles with writers David Stern and Stuart Gibbs through RealArts@Penn. Four days a week she worked with David in the Writer's Room for a new Amazon original series. On Fridays, she met with Stuart to discuss the latest drafts of his various series of middle-grade novels. 

“I learned that writing a worthwhile story means solving a series of problems over and over again.”

Aardra Rajendran, C'16, ENG'16, Bioengineering
CHIRAG Intern, Uttarakhand, India

As a CHIRAG (Central Himalayan Rural Action Group) intern through CASI, Rajendran created an infrastructure for hydrogeology training to address the issue of groundwater quantity and quality decline in the Central Himalayas. The aim of her work was to build a network of village-level para-hydrologists who could monitor local groundwater sources as well as carry out spring recharge initiatives.

“My work with CHIRAG (Central Himalayan Rural Action Group) has my opened my eyes to engineering in the context of development in rural and remote areas. It has been an amazing experience being able to witness the complexities of resource sustainability and help a community address these issues. However, the biggest aspect of learning has been towards my own personal growth and development. I have become more aware of my own desire to use my skills in ways that serves those who need them most.”

Jane Chen, C’16, Biochemistry and Economics
Aravind Intern, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

At Aravind Eye Care Systems, Chen worked on the research, presentation, and implementation of Shared Medical Appointments in the glaucoma department. This innovative approach to the patient-physician consultation allows for additional dimensions of interaction between patient-doctor as well as patient-patient, which allows for increased patient satisfaction and efficiency in the patient flow.

“A summer in India humbled me to the world outside of the Penn bubble. I was greatly inspired by the non-profit mission of Aravind Hospital to help the neediest people in the world while still maintaining a self-sustaining and financially sound business model. Seeing the way that doctors, nurses, and hospital administration staff work relentlessly for their patients was very motivational and showed me the beauty of combining a health science background with business knowledge. I now feel more confident and courageous to pursue my own path in the future.”

Ben Fogel, C’17, undeclared
U.N. Watch

Fogel was present for the entirety of the 26th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). He worked with U.N. Watch, which has Special Consultative Status to the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). U.N. Watch monitors the U.N. and ensures it lives up to the principles established in its founding charter. Fogel observed the Council, followed debates, and tracked resolutions the Council adopted or rejected. He also conducted research on the performance of the Council in relation to the work of its defunct predecessor, the United Nations Human Rights Commission and its charter.

“I’ve always been fascinated with international relations, foreign policy, and the United Nations, and listened to many discussions on these topics in the media as well as in personal conversations. I wanted to gain firsthand experience in these sectors and to truly understand the world around me. I’ve often heard the media discuss the U.N. and international politics, and would question their motives and depth of understanding. Being at the U.N. in Geneva allowed me to see what was actually going on and enabled me to study it in unparalleled depth…I actually lived it.”

Jesús Pérez, C’16, International Relations
impossible2Possible

Pérez participated in an expedition in Atacama Desert in Chile as a youth ambassador through the educational organization impossible2Possible. Participants explore environmentally and socially sensitive regions during their two-week trips. Pérez ultimately ran 136 miles in six consecutive days as part of the expedition. The educational component for impossible2Possible was an astronomy program incorporating the origins of the universe, the galaxies, and planets and life on other planets. Atacama’s desert conditions, its high altitude, and little cloud cover make it an ideal place for observing the sky.

“I feel that I’ve run 136 miles in the middle of the desert, and nothing seems hard now. This experience applies to so many things in life in general about overcoming obstacles, being resilient, and just pulling through and pushing yourself to the limit.”

Summer Fun

Undergraduate interns did some amazing work around the world this summer.
August 2014

Each summer Penn Arts and Sciences offers undergraduates internships that let them hone their skills in industry, non-governmental organizations and non-profits, and cultural institutions, and to conduct research in a variety of disciplines. They also have the opportunity to travel to new parts of the globe and live life to the fullest.