Intern Stories

2020 Spotlight

Joshua Park

"Initially, I was concerned about taking this internship online. I thought that instead of experiencing research, we would be studying anatomy online. After the first week, my opinion dramatically changed when we were exposed to case studies, devising experimental plans, and different experimental devices available to further our understanding of biomedical and bio-engineering research. The highlight of the internship for me would be the exciting ways that Jill would test us on our knowledge about anatomy. From jeopardy to case studies, Jill was able to challenge our knowledge in new intuitive ways that I would definitively prefer over daunting tests."  

Emily Cheng

"I was really excited to hear that the internship would still be taking place, as I was worried that it would be cancelled at first. During this internship, I learned how to do virtual research and how to efficiently read several research papers at a time and effectively understand the key points of each paper. I also sharpened my interpersonal skills when working with different groups of people and making sure everyone's ideas were heard in our presentations. The highlight of the internship was presenting the final few presentations with my group. I was so happy and proud to see all of our hard work cumulate in a very successful presentation with minimal Wi-Fi interruptions, and we all cheered each other on via Slack when we were done presenting. It was in that moment that I realized the meaning of the cliche 'teamwork makes the dream work!' "

Cameron Gilmore

"The opportunity to work with a group of students who are as focused, driven, and passionate as me about our project was refreshing. When our group met for the first time, members came with research completed, topics to be discussed, and questions for one another. The pre-work was completely unprompted - we all dove into the topic, not because we were instructed to, but because it fascinated us. Our project quickly transformed from an idea to a concrete plan. The level of energy from my teammates was unique from any group work I've done before."

Neel Trivedi

"I was confused on how we were going to study osteonecrosis without any lab techniques but I was surprised on how much I actually learned about the disease and lab techniques without actually going to a lab. I definitely have refined my scientific thinking and experimental skills. By trying to critically think, I rapidly grew my knowledge of lab techniques, experimental disease, and science in general. The highlight of the internship has definitely been working with my group. I had a great experience working with them and we became truly great friends after just two weeks of working together."

Cerina Pang

"It has been such a great and knowledgeable experience to see other interns come together globally, overcome the difficulties involved with a virtual internship, and yet still be able to learn about the advancements in the field of regenerative medicine. Over these past few weeks, this internship has sharpened my presenting skills. We have research assignments where we have to present to our peers and mentors, which has gradually made me more comfortable in presenting to others and has also given me insight into how I can make an effective presentation. Additionally, as someone who prefers to work individually, this internship has made me value teamwork because most of our assignments are solely based on being able to work in groups. This has taught me how to respectfully listen to others, synthesizing ideas we may have, and being able to come to a consensus with the whole team."

Ishil Kukreja

"I was nervous in the beginning because I was unsure of my abilities and if I would be able to perform well in the internship. For most of my life I have been very scared to talk or present in front of a large number of people. Having to present so often during this internship really helped me become a better public speaker. I loved all the amazing guest speakers as well, as Dr. Stoddart showed me that your goals can be achieved with hard work even if you come from a rough background."

Ryan Ma

"Although the internship was online, I felt like the internship was still engaging and pushed interns to learn quickly, think outside the box, and collaborate in unique ways. During the internship, I have improved upon my ability to ask questions of both myself and others as we researched and learned more about Osteonecrosis of the jaw. Through this, I now listen to presentations and analyze each detail to see the pros and cons of proposed ideas, and am not afraid to raise these questions to presenters at the end of their presentations. The highlight of the internship has been getting to meet interns and working alongside them to gain a deeper understanding of real world problems that are observed in the medical field today."

Fawzaan Hashmi

"During the internship, I feel as if I have sharpened my teamwork skills. I loved all the amazing presentations from distinguished scientists, and one valuable lesson I learned is to establish a team charter when working with a group."

Angeline Xu

"This internship really sharpened my communication skills. I'm actually happy with the number of presentations we are required to put together and present during this internship because it has not only helped me apply the knowledge I've learned, but it also made me more comfortable with speaking out. No matter what field one is in, communication is so important, and from what I've observed, one of the things that set those who succeed apart because they are the ones who are able to get their ideas across. One of the highlights of this internship for me is being able to be surrounded in such a supportive environment. The mentors genuinely care about the interns. They are approachable and make the internship feel like a safe place to learn where there is no judgment. They are so invested, and you can tell how much of their heart they have put into this internship. I'm really grateful for them and how much they have taught me. Not only the mentors but the interns also. It has been really fun working with different groups. People are competitive; however, it's not in a toxic way but because they want to do the best that they know they can do personally. Everyone is so nice and enthusiastic about learning that you can't help but to feel excited yourself. In short, the highlight of this internship is the people."

Cynthia Ngo

"After countless group presentations, I can definitely say that STaRS has completely changed the way I present to an audience. Before coming into STaRS, I was fairly nervous when presenting. Even though all of the presentations were conducted in an online format, I believe the tips and the experience I gained will improve my presentations in person as well. STaRS has taught me the significance of teamwork. One person can only accomplish so much. By acting and working as a team, the overall project/presentation will be better as everyone's ideas and perspectives are considered and incorporated."

Isa Matsubayashi

"During the internship, I really enjoyed the presentation we did in our big groups on osteonecrosis (my group's topic was on surgery). I applied for this internship partly because I am really interested in surgery, and I got the exposure that I wanted. Not only that, but working in big groups was fun and productive. I personally think I did a pretty good job on the presentation (probably the peak of my short presentation career) which definitely helped boost my confidence. If I have changed in anyway from three weeks ago, it would probably be that I am now a more patient person. To be completely honest, the internship so far hasn't been a smooth sail for me and it has definitely tested many facets of my patience; I have gotten frustrated with my time zone difference, remembering all the muscles of the face, facing long, difficult medical terms in papers, getting flustered in a presentation, and so on... But in facing these obstacles, I have gotten just a small taste of what it is like to study medicine, and hopefully have become a stronger person."

Jack Maurry

"At first I was disappointed about not being able to come into the lab, but as summer grew closer I saw my friends all scrambling to find something to do over the summer. I was excited that the program was still going, but didn't know how they were going to approach the problem that working online brought. Nevertheless, I learned to be more organized and collaborate with teammates better. Normally when I do a group project I have weeks or even months to complete it, but this program moved at a speed where I was only allotted a day or two to connect with my team and finish the project. Moreover, I was able to hone my problem solving and critical thinking skills by learning how to apply the anatomy I memorized with my new knowledge on ONJ to help solve the problems at hand and make mental connections. I feel like I have become a better communicator and problem solver by working in teams from all the around the world, and having to find times to work together despite the time differences and short time span to finish projects. I've also become more skeptical of some avenues of medicine from learning how most drugs only treat a disease at the cost of an increased risk of another, as well as how difficult the process of creating an effective drug is."

Ramya Chitturi

"Coming into the internship, I realized that I did not have much previous exposure to the field of regenerative medicine (with the exception of a couple of articles that I had read in the news). I was a little nervous since I had never been exposed to this kind of information at school before, but I was also very excited that I would have the chance to learn more about a new field of study! I was able how to distinguish credible sources from unreliable sources on the internet and how to make an effective presentation and engage your audience (even if you are not presenting in person). I have not had much prior experience with academic/scientific presentations, but I have been able to improve this skill over the course of the program. The highlight of my internship was the engineer guest speakers. I have always been interested in both engineering/computer science and biology, but I never realized how much overlap there is between the two fields. Based on their presentations, I feel motivated to explore this intersection of technology and medicine more in the future."

Dhruvi Desai

"During this internship, I have been able to increase my analytical thinking skills, and I have become more inquisitive. It has taught me the importance of finding accurate and reliable information to support my claims. I have also increased my knowledge of subjects including regenerative medicine, head and neck anatomy, and bioengineering. I have learned how it is important to understand the limitations of developing technologies in addition to their possibilities. This can help in assessing the reliability of information I find online."

Lucile Zhu

"At first glance, I was hesitant about the idea of moving the internship online because the internship was lab-based and I was not sure how that could occur online. In addition, I was slightly intimidated by the complicated diseases and anatomical terms, but I was still excited to learn more and meet new people. This internship has improved my presentation skills by a large scale because of the assignments given almost every session. This includes the actual talking and the creation of the power points. I saw a signficant improvement in my ability to work in groups because I learned how to schedule meetings based on my group members' personal schedules and differing time zones. Furthermore, I refined my self-learning skill a lot. Studying anatomy and doing the assignments from every session have taught me how to supplement the given material and my prior knowledge with further research."

Priyanka Sanghrajka

"My experience participating in the STaRS internship program has been life changing. Even through an online platform, this program allowed me to gain a great deal of knowledge about biomedicine and research. I was blown away at the amount of effort that was put into making the experience the most time, and resource effective, as everyone collaborated to overcome the barrier of not being in the lab in person. The skills that I have gained have nurtured my passion for science, and are those that will support me in my future endeavors. The highlight of the internship for me were the guest speakers. I am fascinated by any and all fields of science, and I was extremely grateful to learn from experts from different backgrounds and a broad variety of specialties from all over the world, demonstrating to me just how interconnected medicine is."

Christell Millos-Lopez

"I have definitely sharpened my skill of working fast while still coming up with a good product. I have never pumped out so many presentations in the same week as I have during this internship, so I found myself in constant communication with my team, helping my communication skills, and using our meeting times as productively as possible, helping me with better prioritization of assignments. The highlight of the internship for me so far has been being able to work and meet people from all over the world. It was exciting to figure out which team you were going to be in each week, and at the same time, this was a great opportunity to meet and share with most interns that one may have not gotten a chance to talk to before. I have personally really enjoyed all of my teams, especially my first team who made it easy for me to be myself."

Esther Song

"I have definitely sharpened my skill of working fast while still coming up with a good product. I have never pumped out so many presentations in the same week as I have during this internship, so I found myself in constant communication with my team, helping my communication skills, and using our meeting times as productively as possible, helping me with better prioritization of assignments. The highlight of the internship for me so far has been being able to work and meet people from all over the world. It was exciting to figure out which team you were going to be in each week, and at the same time, this was a great opportunity to meet and share with most interns that one may have not gotten a chance to talk to before. I have personally really enjoyed all of my teams, especially my first team who made it easy for me to be myself."

Hannah Kim

"Over the past few weeks, I’ve studied the anatomy of the head and neck while learning various skills necessary for doctors. For instance, I have become more used to analyzing X-rays, and I’ve learned how and what to look at when examining a patient’s mouth. I’ve really enjoyed meeting with some of the guest speakers. The nice thing about being online is that we can get surgeons from places like Europe in Asia to talk to us about their line of work and specialties. It’s been such a surreal experience hearing from them and learning how they look at patients and evaluate them."

Phillip Baek

"When I heard about the program moving online, I was glad that even through times of hardships, people like Jill that really cared about students' learning pushed through to adapt to the new situation. As a returning member, I was glad to have been able to help a program that meant a lot to me since last year. Although leading a group of people to complete a certain project wasn't necessarily new, having to do it virtually was a very new experience for me (and everyone else). And before, I used to be more of that "we have a good plan, now let's wing it" style, but due to these circumstances, it seemed more appropriate to plan meetings ahead of time and be more organized, which seemed to work better. Even though hands on lab experience was not part of the online program, learning how to communicate and work effectively as a group was what made this internship really helpful to my career. All in all, other than knowledge of osteonecrosis and biphosphonates, I think I really got to experience and see that hard work, no matter your ethnic, financial or social background, leads to great results."

2019 Spotlight

Olivia Colace, 17

"STaRS was the perfect introduction to research and a future career in medicine. Interning for seven weeks with inspirational mentors and peers who have not only shared a deep love for science but pushed me to become the best version of myself has changed me for the better, and I look forward to a career in medicine in the future!"  

Zara Malik, 18

"STaRS was an incredible experience where I not only learned so much but I made amazing friends and a wonderful network of mentors! I hope I can come back to the Helms Lab in the future. Special shoutout to Igor, Meagan, Yasemin and of course Jill for a great internship experience!"

Jose Vasquez, 19

"The internship motivated me to pursue an MD/Ph.D. I look forward to the upcoming challenges and aim to one day contribute to our ever-growing body of scientific knowledge."

Janani Balaji, 18

"I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work in the Helms lab. This incredible experience helped further my interest in medical technology, and I will forever cherish the memories I have made here."

Margaux Kobelt

"The Helm’s lab has pushed me towards my dream career in a way no other experience has. I am so grateful for the memories, knowledge and skills that I was able to acquire. I will cherish this experience and the lifelong friends and mentors I made during this internship!"

Claudia Ren

"I feel so lucky and appreciative to have joined STaRS as a part of my college experience. The spirit of collaboration, curiosity, and dedication that I learned from this program has prepared me well for my next steps in science."

Arush Joshi

"I learned invaluable lab skills, connected with phenomenal peers and mentors, and realized that true professionalism is the willingness to learn constantly, no matter the subject, technical or frivolous. STaRS was the perfect introduction to research and a future career in medicine."

Phillip Baek

"The STaRS internship program was literally one of the best things that happened in my life. The mentors are extremely dedicated to giving us the real experience of research, and I've been so lucky to have participated in the entire research process. Not only that, the program invites students from around the world, and we got to bond and do so many fun things even after the normal lab days.”

2018 Spotlight

Ryan, 17, Homestead High School

"Participating in the STaRS internship has opened up new horizons for me and deepened my love for science in an indescribable way. I have been able to connect knowledge from the classroom to real life experiments in the laboratory and have realized the impact that research has on the surrounding world to make it a better place for mankind to live in."

Vanessa, 17, Notre Dame High School

 "The STaRS Internship allowed me to immerse myself in a professional lab setting and start my journey towards a career in science. I was inspired by the people at the lab and the innovative research being done."

Salma, 18, UC Davis

 “The Helms Lab and the time I have spent here have set me on the path towards my dream career goals and pushed me forward in a way no other experience has.” 

Chianna, 20, UC Santa Cruz

"This internship allowed me to meet so many wonderful friends and lifelong mentors. It has opened my mind to so many different career opportunities. I feel fully supported in my future career endeavors!"

Shannon, 21, USC

 "I am so grateful for the Helms Lab for giving me the opportunity to rediscover my passion in science and for providing me the space to learn from amazing mentors and fellow interns. Not only did I learn technical lab skills, but I also learned skills that will help me become a better leader and that will help me achieve my goals and my dream career in healthcare."

Savannah, 20, Stanford

 "I’m extremely grateful that I was given the opportunity to work in the Helm’s lab because I never had the chance to engage in research prior to this. It really confirmed to me why I love science and gave me the absolute confidence to steadfastly pursue a medical career."

Sofya, 21, San Mateo Community College District

 "The STaRS program opened my eyes to the world of research, and the skills and knowledge that I gained from working with such an amazing group of people will support me in achieving my goals."

Nora, 17, Homestead High School

 "I have learned so much at Dr. Helm's lab and my experience here has greatly expanded my interest in medicine. The incredible doctors I got to work along side with and the amazing interns I have met through this program will be something I will cherish forever."

2017 Spotlight

Jessica 16, Evergreen Valley High School

 "Spending my summer at Helms Lab was an eye opening experience that has encouraged me to pursue a future in science."

Addis 19, UC Santa Cruz

"It was such an honor being able to come back and work at the Helms lab. Being surrounded by such distinguished, intellectuals really inspired me and invigorated my passion to pursue science."

Kavita, 21, UCLA 

"My experience at the Helms lab has helped me discover my strengths and has given me the confidence to pursue a career in science. The researchers here are so inspiring and I am grateful to have had this opportunity to work with them."

Rachel, 17, Leigh HS

 "The STaRS internship prompted me to think about the sheer power and relevance of science in my life. The 7 weeks — and counting — at the Helms Lab has endowed me with lessons in patience, resilience, and collaboration that I have not encountered before."

Alicia, 16, Lynbrook HS

"The people I've met and the memories I've made here remind me daily of how deep and wonderful science is. It's been truly amazing to practice the perseverance, creativity, and love for exploration that research demands of one here at the Helms lab."

Tram, 16, Carlmont HS

"Having the experience of working at the Helms Lab was a great opportunity that helped me take a step to achieve my dreams."

Bengisu, 17, Adrian Wilcox HS | Anita, 17, Homestead HS

"The Helms Lab was a great working environment with all kind of students. As I worked, I also got to meet with so many people from different backgrounds." - Bengisu

"This summer's STaRS internship allowed me to pursue my dreams of working in a lab and solidified my goal of becoming a research scientist in the hopefully near future." - Anita

Amara, 17, Lynbrook HS

"I can truly say the interactive working environment of Helms was an invaluable and eye opening experience for me. Though I was new to the science field, I was given the opportunity to actively participate in my own research."