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July 23, 2001

Internship program recruits technicians

By Michael Terrazas


Principal investigators at Emory looking for research assistants will have another option next summer, as Human Resources continues its new Research Specialist Internship Program, launched this year with three interns working for three PIs.

Unlike the existing Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, which is targeted toward students who plan to enter medical school, the new internship program is geared more for individuals looking into careers as research technicians, according to its director, Randall Cumbaa.

“First off, it’s a recruitment strategy, another tool [PIs] can use to identify potential [full-time] candidates,” said Cumbaa, HR senior recruiting specialist. “This way, the evaluation of the technicians’ performance is done before they’re hired as regular employees. Hopefully, they’ll come to us for the two summers before they graduate, and the PIs can evaluate their performance instead of interviewing somebody for an hour or two before they make them an offer.”

The program was launched last year and promoted only to colleges and universities in the area. The three interns this summer—Richard Hite, Heide Oller and Rebecca Sanders—are students at Emory, Oglethorpe and Agnes Scott, respectively. But next summer, Cumbaa plans to broaden the program’s umbrella to schools around the Southeast.

Cumbaa also hopes to recruit more investigators by asking department heads or directors to earmark the roughly $3,000 needed to pay an intern’s stipend rather than ask the PIs themselves to pony up money from their grants.

For now, the internship program is enjoying a small but successful beginning.

“I had the money, and I had a project that could be with a somewhat inexperienced person,” said Wolfram Siede, an assistant professor in radiation/oncology who works in the Winship Cancer Institute. Siede is working with his intern, Oller, in DNA re-search that examines how yeast cells repair themselves. “What I needed to see was motivation, which [Oller] certainly has. The rest you can learn.”

Hite is working with Rathnagiri Polavarapu, assistant professor of biochemistry, and Sanders is an intern for David Guidot, associate professor of pulmonary medicine. All three interns had good reviews for the eight-week program.

“I’d worked in a microbiology lab at Agnes Scott and had done some molecular genetics, and I was interested in doing something that wasn’t completely foreign but still let me learn some new things,” Sanders said. “Dr. Guidot’s really committed to this as a learning experience and to my development as a scientist.”

For more information on the internship program, contact Cumbaa at 404-727-7191.


Back to Emory Report July 23, 2001