Lab Matters Summer 2024 | Page 6


APHL Internship Pool Offers Summer Relief to Wisconsin

By Rudolph Nowak , MPH , senior specialist , Marketing & Communications
The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene ( WSLH ) dove into the Public Health Laboratory Internship Program last summer hosting 17 interns . This year , the laboratory is looking to host 14 summer interns .
In 2023 , 17 interns — 15 in the Environmental Health Division , one in the Communicable Disease Division and one in the Office of Information Services — spent the summer assisting laboratory personnel and gaining valuable skills . The laboratory also gained experience with hosting the interns .
“ We never imagined the program would get so much initial interest from supervisors and we could not have accomplished this without the support from APHL to get us started ,” said Camille Danielson , Environmental Chemistry director . “ Together with APHL , we worked through the questions and obstacles to make this a success .”
Over the past year , Danielson encouraged both managers and experienced staff to sign up as mentors .
“ It ’ s a growth opportunity for them , especially if they want to move up and change their job to a more supervisory role ,” Danielson said . She added that they have a few senior chemists and quality assurance ( QA ) staff that have signed up as mentors .
An Unexpected Windfall
The interest was not only with the supervisors .
The applicant response was overwhelming with over 40 applicants this year compared to 30 in 2023 . WSLH advertised at the University of Wisconsin – Madison student jobs website and sent APHL ’ s informational flyer to local technical colleges , professors at other campuses and to other large universities to try and spread the word .
Jayden Jones , an intern from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was in the first group and has extended her internship twice .
“ Last spring I was in the process of applying for internships for the summer and it ’ s such a challenge sometimes to find something that interests you ,” Jones said . “ And also , I am a student and I need to make money , so I was looking for something that worked for me .”
Jones , a May graduate , studied global health . Her global health program sends out a regular email highlighting news , events on campus and other relevant topics like internships , which is where she learned about the Public Health Laboratory Internship Program .
“ I honestly was like , ‘ Oh I don ’ t feel like I ’ m qualified for that .’ Besides my coursework , I haven ’ t had much laboratory experience . I ended up applying and I ’ m so glad that I did , because a year later it ’ s completely changed things for me .”
Another intern who benefitted from the internship experience was the University of Wisconsin-Madison ’ s Lucy Wellso , who also has extended her internship twice . She was looking for an internship online when she came across the opportunity .
“ When I started college , I didn ’ t think that I wanted to pursue a degree in public health . But now seeing the interconnection between environmental health and public health , it ’ s something that I ’ m definitely more interested in ,” Wellso said . “ The fact that there would be hands-on experience in a laboratory that ’ s not just an academic laboratory really piqued my interest .”
A Part of the Public Health Laboratory Team
In addition to the hands-on experience , the interns got a taste of what real life in a laboratory might look like . Wellso
Lucy Wellso filters samples before they are analyzed for ammonia and nitrate analysis on a Lachat FIA instrument in the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene ’ s environmental inorganic chemistry laboratory . Photo : Jan Klawitter / WSLH
worked in the environmental division where the work is more seasonal and more demanding in summer . The summer interns provided some muchneeded help .
“ I ’ ve really enjoyed being in the laboratory and not just in an academic setting . But what I like is it ’ s continuous and it ’ s so important for human health to get water tested ,” she said .
Wellso also had the opportunity to attend several meetings that she enjoyed being included in . The conversation centered around what the spring season is going to look like ( with water testing ) and how the laboratory will work through the water samples , what everyone ’ s responsibilities are and how they collaborate as a team .
Jones had the opportunity to learn different facets of laboratory procedures and testing of samples .
“ My laboratory works with antibiotic resistance of Candida auris and receives swabs from nursing homes and assisted living facilities from all around the country . Last summer they were getting hundreds of swabs every day from these facilities ,” she said .
4 LAB MATTERS Summer 2024
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