In June 2008, I flew to Coffs Harbour, Australia to intern at the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) as a Research Assistant to two professors, for six months. One of the research projects involved diving the reefs for monitoring projects and the other was a lab-based climate change research project. Within the first few weeks of my internship, I came to realize the diving project was never going to happen. Disappointed by the turn of events, I turned lemons into lemonade and devoted my time to work on the climate change research project.
To my complete surprise, I thoroughly loved the nitty-gritty lab work. My supervisor and I went snorkeling at least once a week to collect sea urchins and ran experiments that sometimes ran late into the night. I was in charge of the lab and monitored the experiments and animals every day. In December, NMSC paid for me to go a scientific conference in Sydney where I listened to world-renowned scientists talk about their research. Needless to say, when my time was up at NMSC, it was hard to leave!
Upon my return to the U.S., I had new passion for marine biology and climate change research. I remained in close contact with my supervisor in Australia about the status of our experiments and the results. As I neared graduation at OSU, I decided I wanted to continue similar research in graduate school. My relevant research experience at NMSC gave me the passion and the scientific background I needed to skip a Masters program. Now, one year after my return from Australia, I have been accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of California Santa Barbara starting in fall 2010.
My IE3 story is one of complete success. I chose the IE3 program simply because there was a marine biology internship available in Australia, and I thought an internship would help me figure out my future. Little did I know, or expect, that the cancellation of the diving research project would benefit me and put me directly on the path towards a PhD. IE3 has been an invaluable experience both academically and travel-wise. To those students debating international internships, I say: DO IT! The benefits may stretch well beyond your expectations!