Summer interns gain valuable research experience

19 Feb 2016
AIBN summer intern Milena Gomes.
AIBN summer intern Milena Gomes.

Over the summer semester break the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnologyhosted a large number of undergraduate university students eager to gain research laboratory experience.

The Institute hosted 26 students, who were given 10-12 week research projects embedded with research groups during the length of their project.

The value of the experience is highlighted through the participation of two returning interns, as well as four international students who travelled to Australia specifically for the opportunity.

Among them was fourth year chemical engineering student Milena Gomes from Brazil, who is spending 10 weeks in Professor Chengzhong (Michael) Yu’s research group.

“I’m very happy to have had this opportunity to access laboratories of this quality, and this experience has opened my eyes to life as a researcher,” Milena said.

“I get to interact a lot with other members of the group, and have learned more than I expected in the time I’m here,” she said.

“The lab members have been so supportive and welcoming of me, and I would recommend anyone interested in research to take up the chance to see what working in a laboratory is like.”

For the 20-year-old, the opportunity to work in a laboratory has been invaluable, however, she has also made the most of her time in Australia.

“It’s my first time abroad, and I had the opportunity to travel and sightsee during the Christmas break,” she said.

“While working on my project I have synthesised nanoparticles with a spiky structure on the surface, inspired by pollen grains, for attaching to other surfaces.

“I worked on a structure that could attach itself to wool, and when loaded with an agent called ivermectin can help control parasites in sheep.”

Her experience has made her want to investigate her options as a researcher in greater detail.

“I think it’s a great privilege to spend your life observing the world, learning, and possibly contributing to people’s lives,” she said.

AIBN Director Professor Alan Rowan said the summer and winter intern programs provide undergraduate students with an insight to determine whether they should pursue a career in scientific research.

“Our student interns have the opportunity to be involved in real research opportunities, with some students having research papers published due to the findings of their work,” Professor Rowan said.

“A scientific career is immensely rewarding, however, for every eureka moment there are countless hours of conducting experiments that do not go as hoped, and trying to understand why,” he said.

“The people who succeed most in science are those who see these times as opportunities to learn rather than seeing them as failures,” he said.

“The summer and winter intern programs give young researchers exposure to these moments, together with the entrepreneurial culture of bringing this science to society, and allows them to make an informed choice of whether they wish to undertake postgraduate studies such as those offered at AIBN.”

Further information on study opportunities at AIBN is available at the students section of the AIBN website.

Media: Darius Koreis,, +61 7 3346 3962, +61 427 148 187.