High School Students Complete Prestigious Max Planck Internship

Nikita Thomas, Winston Cheung, William Swann, Eugenia Victoria Gomez, Education Outreach Coordinator Ilaria Drago, Cameron Pirozzi, Subhash Kantamneni and Seoyoung Kwon.

Seoyoung Kwon, 17, has studied about neuroscience in her science classes at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, but a one-of-a-kind summer internship opportunity allowed her to get up close and personal with what makes the brain work.

Kwon is one of seven area high school students who have completed an intensive six-week summer internship program at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI). The students worked with scientific mentors, gained hands-on lab experience and even used MPFI’s STED super-resolution microscopy lab. The experience was eye-opening for Kwon. “I never knew there were that many types of neurons — they all look nothing like the textbooks that you see,” she said.

MPFI’s summer internship program began June 11 and ended July 20 with students giving presentations on their scientific project. The experience provides a rare chance to gain real-world lab experience outside of a high school setting and get a glimpse of what life would be like as a future science professional. “As an intern, you learn a lot about research and what a career in science will look like,” Kwon said. “It’s really different from your normal high school labs.”

In addition to Kwon, the 2018 MPFI internship class included: Wellington resident Nikita Thomas of Suncoast High School, William Swann of Saint Andrew’s School, Subhash Kantamneni of Suncoast High School, Cameron Pirozzi of the Benjamin School, Eugenia Victoria Gomez of Spanish River High School and Winston Cheung of Atlantic High School.

The students were selected from a pool of more than 130 highly qualified applicants who are entering their junior or senior year of high school. In addition to consideration of academic accomplishments, applicants had to submit two essays and provide a minimum of two recommendations from science teachers.

This is the eighth year that MPFI has offered the internship program, which offers students a chance to learn about brain structure, function and development, and the advanced imaging techniques and technologies used in neuroscience.

Plans are already underway to continue the internship program in 2019. Applications will be accepted Jan. 7 through March 3, 2019. To learn more, visit www.mpfi.org.