OARDC Develops Excellent Internship Opportunities

August 6, 2003

WOOSTER, Ohio -- The Ohio Agricultural and Research Development Center (OARDC) offers students a wide variety of internship opportunities. The Department of Plant Pathology, for instance, offers an eight- to 10-week program in which students can gain experience and interact with faculty, staff, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. "This internship program has been a great benefit to the department. We get an opportunity to teach students about plant pathology as a science and potentially identify students for our graduate program," said Ann Dorrance, an OARDC plant pathologist. Dorrance is one of several committee members in charge of planning and designing the program. Others include Brian McSpadden Gardener, Ann Lighthiser, Gui-Liang Wang and Mac Riedel. Faculty look for students who have earned excellent grades in science, are hard workers and are potentially interested in graduate school, Dorrance added. "(The program) has met all of my expectations," said Brett Benedetti, a plant pathology intern with OARDC. "Coming from a small school like Allegheny College, I didn't know how students and faculty would interact at Ohio State. I work with (researcher) Sophien Kamoun, and he's been great. Also, the graduate students are really involved." Plant pathology internships are available on either the Columbus or the Wooster campus. The program is open to current college students and individuals who have graduated within the past year and are legally able to work in the United States. The program gives students the opportunity to conduct independent research projects under the guidance of faculty sponsors and learn techniques of scientific research used to discover the causes, development and control of plant diseases. "Also, since Allegheny is so small, I was used to doing a lot of independent research. The project I'm working on here is completely self-designed. I'm pretty much by myself -- it's good experience," Benedetti added. He is a senior biology major. Students are paid a taxable stipend of $3,000. Some students may also earn college credit. It is up to the student to make arrangements with their university. For more information and downloadable applications, log on to http://plantpath.osu.edu/internship/. An unofficial program involves the entire OARDC. Many researchers hire summer interns independently, sometimes through grant money. For a while, the challenge was housing. "We would invite scholars and students and have no place to house them," Dorrance said. She helped solve the problem by coordinating housing for interns at the College of Wooster. "We've gotten no complaints from (the College of Wooster), so we plan on continuing that partnership," she added. The program may become official in the future. Still unknown is whether or not it will be department based. To get involved with the program, students should inquire with their department chairs. Similarly, Eric Stockinger has been working with Southwestern Community College, Chula Vista, Calif., for two years. "We are looking for students with graduate school potential," said Stockinger, an assistant professor of horticulture and crop science. Students at the two-year college apply and are then selected to spend two months of the summer at OARDC. "I really enjoy my internship," said Stacy Adams, an intern in Stockinger's lab. "This is a great opportunity for many reasons, the biggest being that I get a chance to work in a field directly related to my interests." Adams plans on majoring in biological engineering or molecular biology. "I have learned work-related skills. I have become more familiar with the lab environment, and I have reinforced my desire to work with DNA. Also, I have met many people with similar interests and found new friends," Adams added. Adrian Contreras, microbiology major from Southwestern, works with David Francis, also a professor of horticulture and crop science. "Another goal of the program (at Southwestern) is to get a job. I've already talked to David Francis, and he's going to help me prepare a resume that will focus on lab experience. I know that some of the people who were here last year got good jobs in a company in San Diego. So this is really good experience," Contreras said. OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Author(s): 
Caitlin McHugh
Source(s): 
Ann Dorrance