Sewanee and Yale Collaborations

Summer Research Internships at Yale for 13 Sewanee Students

Thirteen Sewanee students awarded summer research internships at Yale through the Yale Child Study Center, a division of the Yale School of Medicine, are now a little over halfway into their 8-week internships. Sophia Borne (Psychology major), Anna Bradley (Psychology major), Helena Brooks (French & French Studies major), Madison Bunderson (Psychology major), Margie Carrasco (Psychology and Politics double-major), Daniel Gabriel (major not yet declared), Anna Grishaw (Psychology major), Bradford Lepik (Biochemistry major), Cayla O’Hair (Psychology major), Zsanett Péter (Biochemistry major), Heather Pittman (Biology major), Reeda Shakir (Biology major), and Melissa Zankman (Psychology major) are working on a range of research projects under the direct mentorship of Yale faculty and will present the results of their work in a poster session at the Yale Child Study Center on July 28th. Two of these students (Daniel Gabriel and Zsanett Péter) are at Yale for a semester plus a summer as part of the Sewanee-At-Yale Directed Research Program that offers select students the opportunity for a more extended research experience and courses. Chandler Altenbern (Psychology major), Martha Dinwiddie (Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies double-major), and Elizabeth Eidson (Psychology major), were offered summer internships but chose to pursue other opportunities or were otherwise unable to attend. In addition to work in labs and in the community, the summer research internships include regular lab meetings, weekly gatherings of all interns for discussion of journal articles and their research, presentations by a variety of Yale faculty, and time for excursions in and around New Haven.

During the first few weeks of their internships, several students wrote in to share some of their experiences: 

Zsanett Péter writes:

“I cannot tell you how happy I am with my internship at Yale. My PI and the research team I work with are extremely supportive and helpful. I have gained so much knowledge already about genetic research, and have seen multiple clinical cases that nicely complement the research part. It is absolutely wonderful to live with my Sewanee friends as well, since we cook together, share our meals nearly every day and just hang out in the living room for the rest of the night. We have explored many restaurants (of course including the famous New Haven pizza places), parks, museums, festivals and art galleries. New Haven is such a charming, bubbling city, I feel immense happiness every day just walking around on the streets. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity; I haven't been this happy for a while. I just feel like life is perfect right now!”  

From Cayla O’Hair:

“My experience at Yale has been just that: an experience. I am working with Melissa Zankman [fellow Sewanee student] in Dr. Helena Rutherford's lab at the Yale Child Study Center. Our work is spread out over three projects. The primary study is looking at mothers’ ability and sensitivity to recognize emotions in infants, and how this changes from pregnancy to postpartum….and how substance use can interfere with this ability. We are also at the beginning of two additional studies, one about the effects of massage therapy to reduce stress and substance use in mothers, and another about those with a clinical diagnosis of depression and their ability or inability to distract themselves from sad faces….

Everyone in the CSC has been very inviting and professional. It is unique to work with so many intelligent individuals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines and have them respect you as a colleague. A typical day here for me starts around 7:45 am when I arrive at my office. The day may include any of the following: conducting a visit with a mom (participant), photoshopping visual stimuli for paradigms, attending various talks and lab meetings, doing a bit of literature review, or transcribing interviews. I am then able to leave the office between 4 and 5. The visits with moms include an EEG, saliva samples, computer tasks, and interviews. It is great being able to interact with participants and understand all the time and effort that goes into collecting data in longitudinal studies. So like I said, Melissa and I are now able to do EEGs! I attached photos of us practicing on each other from our first week here. We have only been here two weeks and have already learned so many things we are eager to take back to Sewanee.” 

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Melissa Zankman says:

“I am learning so much here at the Child Study Center that I hope to take back to Sewanee. Cayla told me that she just sent email notifying you about what we are doing here with Dr. Rutherford. Therefore, I would like to tell you a bit more about our experience outside of the office! First of all, the variety of great local restaurants here is incredible. It is hard not to eat out all the time, especially when it comes to lunch when different food trucks with assortments of Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, etc. line up outside our office. Additionally, we have begun our exploration of the hiking trails in the area with a hike up to the top of East Rock on Sunday. It is also interesting to interact with the people of New Haven. We have met many welcoming people, one of which is a Yale door- to- door shuttle driver (available past 6:00pm) named Tony from Italy. He has kindly given us suggestions of things to do in the area as well as places to be careful of. Lastly, there is an art festival that is taking place in New Haven until June 25. The other day, Madison Bunderson [fellow Sewanee student] and I stumbled upon one of the concerts on "the green"- the central park of Downtown New Haven. Interestingly enough, the band was playing Death Metal and the crowd composed of individuals of all ages. It was amusing to see two of the older folks dancing at the front stage to such unexpected music. 

All in all, it has been a great experience so far.”


Stay tuned for more news from New Haven!