Navy research command at Wright-Patt prepares future scientists

Each summer, Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton welcomes high school, undergraduate and graduate students for internships. Paid opportunities are available for students to gain practical knowledge, educational experience and mentorship guidance. (Contributed photo collage)
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Each summer, Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton welcomes high school, undergraduate and graduate students for internships. Paid opportunities are available for students to gain practical knowledge, educational experience and mentorship guidance. (Contributed photo collage)

This summer, Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton welcomed its largest cohort of interns to the command for a time of learning, mentorship and comradery. Composed of secondary to graduate-level students, the group had the opportunity to dive deep into their fields of interest, gain solid work experience, learn about the Navy and form lasting memories with command members.

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Each summer, NAMRU-Dayton welcomes high school, undergraduate and graduate students from across a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through partnerships such as Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and the Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation Scholarship. Both the ORISE and SMART Scholars programs offer paid opportunities for students to gain practical knowledge, educational experience and mentorship guidance.

High school students Alex Folga and Ryan Williams used their time at NAMRU-Dayton to discover fields of interests, while undergrads Samantha Keller, Jesse Leiffer, Brendan Gallagher, Kiersten Compton and Ashton Hughes put their developing knowledge to practical use in fields as varied as public health, mechanical and biomechanical engineering and cognitive psychology.

NAMRU-Dayton returnee Mackenzie Riggenbach, a rising senior at Ohio Northern University, used her knowledge from her previous internship to develop and conduct her own study over the summer.

“I’ve learned so much about running a lab and conducting research at NAMRU-Dayton,” said Riggenbach. ”This experience has helped me broaden my knowledge of cognitive psychology.”

Several interns reflected on the work experience they gained during their time at the command.

“I wanted the opportunity not only to learn but contribute while doing so,” said Dominic Pistone, a rising sophomore at Wright State University. “I heard this was a place where I would be able to do both.”

Jon Simmel, master’s degree candidate at Ohio State University, agreed with the sentiment.

“The best part has been the freedom I’ve been given to creatively tackle interesting problems,” said Simmel. “The principal investigators have been gracious enough to allow me the opportunity to apply my engineering and design knowledge to develop methodologies for a study rather than simply executing it.”

For Daniel McHail, a SMART scholar and neuroscience doctorate student, the internship was just the beginning of his time with NAMRU-Dayton, which was “his top choice when [he] applied through the SMART program.” McHail will return to the command as a civilian scientist employee once he completes his degree.

“This internship has allowed me to rotate through so much of the aerospace medical laboratories here which will definitely inform the projects I develop when I return as a principle investigator next year

Talented STEM students can learn more about opportunities with ORISE (https://orise.orau.gov/careers/index.html) and the SMART (http://smartscholarship.org/) program by visiting them online. Additionally, NAMRU-Dayton is a registered laboratory on the Office of Naval Research's Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (https://nreip.asee.org/labs/naval_medical_research_unit__dayton__oh_) and is looking for summer 2019 NREIP participants.

To learn more about Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, visit the command website (https://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmrc/Dayton) and connect on Facebook @NavalMedicalResearchUnitDayton (https://www.facebook.com/navalmedicalresearchunitdayton/) and Twitter @NAMRUDayton (https://twitter.com/NAMRUDayton).