College Undergraduates Earn Prestigious Biotechnology Internships
From the July 2013 Desktop News | Three students from the College are getting hands-on experience in sophisticated biotechnology as part of the BioTran internship program at the HudsonAlpha Institute in Huntsville. College undergraduates Duncan Murdock, Anna Willis, and Abigail Shelton along with two other UA students are interning this summer as part of the highly competitive program.
Only 10 percent of those that apply for the BioTran internship are selected annually for the opportunity. Since the inception of the BioTran internship in 2009, more than 1,500 students have applied and only 115 have been accepted to participate.
Murdock, a junior from Boaz, Ala. is majoring in microbiology at UA and is spending his internship working in the lab of Dr. Shawn Levy. The Levy Lab oversees HudsonAlpha’s Genomic Services Laboratory, which supports projects and research using technology such as genomic sequencing and bioinformatics. Murdock is working specifically on the bioinformatics team, where he develops computer software that analyzes data produced in the lab.
Murdock says the experience has taught him about professionalism and the importance of developing practical skills. “It’s also been very refreshing to get out and do the kind of work that I’ve been studying for, without having to worry about exams or homework,” he said.
Anna Willis is a senior from Powder Springs, Ga. studying biology and chemistry at UA. She is working with Serina Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company that develops treatments for Parkinson’s disease, cancer, inflammation, pain, and metabolic disorders.
Shelton is a junior from Harvest, Ala. studying molecular biology and genetics. Last year she participated in the BioTran internship program in the research laboratory of Clarient, a company that specializes in diagnostic technologies to assess and characterize cancer. This year she is working with Conversant Bio, a company that develops human tissue specimens from cancer, auto-immune, and normal donors for research purposes.