Internship Provides Valuable Lessons
This summer I’ve had the privilege of working with David Young and Javier Delgado as an intern in the Discovery Biology Department. The goal of my project was to understand how a class of fungicides binds to a protein target in fungi to aid in the design of more effective fungicides. Our approach was to identify mutations in the protein which confer resistance by preventing the fungicide from binding. This information was used to develop a model of the binding site on the protein.
I chose to participate in this particular internship because I felt it would provide a clearer picture of whether or not I enjoyed working in an industry environment. Since my previous research experience had been in academic labs, I was curious to see how academia and industry were similar and different in my field of study.
Working in the industry setting itself has perhaps been my favorite part of the internship. The team-based collaboration and economic incentives for innovation are motivating for me. Having the opportunity to interact with professionals from many parts of Dow AgroSciences such as automation, bioengineering, biotechnology regulatory affairs and intellectual property has helped me understand and appreciate the complexity of the industry. Working for a large company like Dow has enabled me to build bridges between myself and professionals with which I might’ve never otherwise connected.
This work environment has helped me learn more about myself as a scientist, as well. I previously thought that as an introverted person, working by myself at the bench would be a critically important part of my job satisfaction. Working at Dow, however, has helped me realize that I function as well or even better as part of a team than I do on my own. I was still able to work with a significant level of independence, but the research goals I worked toward were over-arching. The projects here involved people from different teams, labs, disciplines, facilities and nations. Being a part of that network has proven highly rewarding.
My experience at Dow AgroSciences has not only helped me understand how I work best, but adjusted the lenses on my career path. Coming into the internship, I wasn’t sure if would latch onto industry or if I would prefer the academic lab setting with which I was more familiar. From where I stand now, it appears that I am more compatible with industry, and plan to pursue my career accordingly as I advance in my education. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve already been afforded through the internship program and look forward to the innovations that will arise from my research project.
Chloe Siegel is an incoming junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She studies Crop Sciences with a concentration in plant biotechnology and molecular biology. As an undergraduate researcher, she has participated in previous internships at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Smithsonian, as well as projects in university labs. After graduation, Chloe plans to attend graduate school to pursue her goal of abating hunger with the science of genetic engineering.