Exploring the World of Science

As you begin to consider plans for the upcoming summer, it may seem a bit daunting. To hopefully ease the process, the Yale Scientific is featuring several unique summer experiences from your fellow undergraduates, who have traveled around the world, working in all areas of science this past summer. From researching abroad to excavating archaeological sites, from interning in Silicon Valley to volunteering in Africa, these students are now sharing their remarkable opportunities with you. For contact information, program websites, and more photos for each of these and many additional undergraduate summer activities, please visit
Featured photos courtesy of each respective student. Background photos courtesy of collective student submissions.

Sherwin Yu, MC ’12
Google Inc.
Mountain View, CA, USA

Sherwin worked as a site reliability engineer (SRE) intern at Google. SREs are responsible for ensuring Google’s web applications are responsive and functional, anywhere, anytime. Google’s sophisticated monitoring system alerts SREs when something breaks, and they are quick to respond. Thankfully, as an intern, Sherwin was spared being on-call. Instead, he built tools for network analysis, leveraging Google’s internal distributed computation and network infrastructure. The idea of his work was to correlate network traffic with application performance.

“Besides amazing food, free massages, and the opportunity to work on challenging problems with brilliant people, the part of Google I loved most was its culture. Google is data driven, socially and environmentally responsible, and transparent. The decision-making felt sincere and earnest in its efforts to do the right thing. And when something is questionable, engineers are welcome and proud to stand up and voice their opinions.”

Shirlee Wohl, CC ’13
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
Tübingen, Germany

Tucked away in the beautiful city of Tübingen, Germany, the Max Planck Institute of Developmental Biology is a place full of scientific creativity. As an intern at one of Germany’s top research institutions, Shirlee spent her summer learning the basics of protein chemistry and molecular biology. More specifically, she worked with the tryptophan repressor – a protein that binds to tryptophan and performs important regulatory functions. Not only was the Max Planck Institute a great place to grow proteins and conduct experiments, but how many people can say they discussed ideas with a post-doc while enjoying German pretzels and beer?

“When people ask me about my summer I immediately respond ‘it was amazing’ and then become tongue-tied trying to explain all the reasons why I enjoyed it so much. Being young in Europe is an unforgettable experience, and the attitude of the researchers at the Max Planck Institute was so inspirational, so laid-back, so…German.”

Evin Grody, TC ’12
University of Pretoria
Waterpoort and Pretoria, South Africa

Evin spent this summer continuing her work on a zooarchaeological project that she began in South Africa last summer with Annie and Xander Antonites, two Ph.D. candidates in the Yale Department of Archaeological Studies. The site of her research, Mutumba, is an early Iron Age site located in the Soutpansberg District, dating to roughly 900-1300 A.D. Evin has been focusing on the faunal material (e.g. animal bones, shell, teeth), identifying and analyzing skeletal parts, species, and taphonomy, to reconstruct the ecology, subsistence, and economy of the ancient inhabitants of the area. The findings will eventually play a crucial role in the investigation of the relationship between areas of political power and communities.

“Of course, like many things, archaeology is not nearly as sexy as it is often portrayed and while I do know how to use one, I do not possess a bull whip, or a fedora, but if you have the patience for the tedium involved, I have found archaeology to present me some most intriguing and exacting puzzles I have ever encountered, and how’s a girl to resist that?”

Luke Myhre, DC ’14
AIC Kijabe Hospital
Narok and Kajiado Districts, Kenya

Luke spent the summer in Kenya with the support of the Yale Global Health Initiative Field Experience Award. The purpose of his project was to investigate the toxicity of herbal medicines used by members of the Maasai tribe. Using translators, Luke conducted 100 interviews in approximately 20 different villages, detailing the local herbal knowledge of medicines and their toxicities. Specifically, he investigated the Rift Valley and Loita Hills regions and found consistent results from both of these areas. Maasai patients at Kijabe Hospital, who were later identified as suffering from multiple herbal overdoses, had symptoms that matched those of the reported medicines that Luke had studied.

“Working with the Maasai helped me refine a viewpoint on medicine in Africa that melds western thought with local perspective.”

Ike Swetlitz, SM ’15
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel

Ike worked in the Superconductivity Lab in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics. He worked with his lab partner and mentor on creating and analyzing nano-size superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) mounted on glass micropipettes. SQUIDs are superconducting loops of metal that are used to measure magnetic fields. Placing SQUIDs on the tips of small devices (the smallest diameter of the micropipettes was on the order of hundreds of nanometers) allows extremely precise magnetic field measurements. For this project, Ike and his partner attempted to create SQUIDs on tips (SOTs), analyzed existing SOTs, and overcame engineering challenges.

“I experienced both the thrill and the anxiety of researching something that, as far as we know, nobody else in the world is researching. I was able to work directly with most of the people in the research group, from the principal investigator to other Yale undergraduates working there for the summer; I learned from all of them.”

Annie Hoang, SM ’13
Project Vietnam Foundation
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This summer, Annie spent nine weeks in Vietnam trying to comprehend the complex social network that affects the sexual perceptions and behaviors of young Vietnamese women. Specifically, she investigated current practices and to the factors necessary to motivate change. In collaboration with the Project Vietnam Foundation, Hoa Sen University, and the Institute of Population, Health, and Development, she designed and conducted an independent research project studying how cultural, social, and economic factors affect young Vietnamese women’s perceptions and attitudes toward sexuality and identifying the correlation between those perceptions and the women’s access to reproductive healthcare.

“My experience abroad was ineffable. I met so many interesting people, from whom I learned so much. My interviewees invited me to their homes and introduced me to their family and friends. Some took me shopping. Some showed me the best places to hang out and eat. But they all became my friends.”