2009 CCWinter

IMPORTANT NOTE: All statements by students are original and unedited. None of the statements have been edited, added to or altered in any way.

Amandeep Kaur

College: Cosumnes River College 
Major: Chemistry

It was one of the best times of my life. Whether you were chemists, physicists, or biologists it did not matter, because towards the end everyone worked together sharing their ideas in order to solve the puzzle. Bowling, dinner, and playing games durin

g the breaks helped in bringing everyone closer together, and refreshing their minds in times of frustration. Even with all of our differences we had so much more in common, and towards the end it felt as if we had known each other our whole lives. Although individual groups were present everyone worked as a collaboration to find the answers. The project was introduced and it was left to the interns to do the research, and to come up with ideas in order to find the answers. Frustration, anger, and happiness and many other mixed emotions were felt by all, but it was nothing compared to the satisfaction they all received after completion the project. Coming up with ideas may have been the easiest part; however, the ideas had no use when we had no access to the necessary equipment. Other alternatives were found in order to work with the material presented to us. This small of family of mine I will never forget, and the research experience was unbelievable. I would definitely encourage others to apply and to take this opportunity; it will help answer many of your questions.

Brandon Minter

College: Cosumnes River College 
Major: Biomedical Engineering

As the days were getting closer to when the Winter Internship was about to start I was getting more nervous. I've

never done anything like this and didn't know what to expect. Ana Corbacho understood that everyone was new to research and made sure everyone was comfortable with many break games. The games served two purposes: one was to bring the group together and the other was to relieve stresses. They helped. I really enjoyed the internship because no one there was a jerk and we all worked together. The only bad thing I can say about the two weeks is that we always stayed after, which wasn't that bad at all. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to applying to the summer internship, hopefully I get accepted.

Christian Hurd

College: Cosumnes River College
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

When Dr. Corbacho lectured about Biophotonics in my MESA interdisciplinary class at Cosumnes River College, I had no idea what she was talking about.  After learning about the “Twighlight Zone” she said join the internship, and I responded with a confused blankstare.  What I did know, after collecting myself, was that I was later planning to

transfer to UC Davis with a major in Mechanical Engineering and that UC Davis thrived with research based science.  I figured that this would be a door of opportunity to initiate networks between Davis and myself and to get an early adaptation to research science.  I also realized that growing in a competitive world, getting involved with opportunity is a crucial way of learning about the world and most importantly, learning about yourself.  I must say following my instincts and joining this internship has been a rewarding educational and professional milestone on my part.  The laboratory work was a great way of applying past scientific knowledge to solve new problems.  I would also have to say that the most fun I had was just interacting with my fellow interns especially when we all went bowling.  Interacting with them was like being adopted to a new diverse family for two weeks and I always have them to thank for that.  Thanks to this gifted team and our great mentor, Dr. Corbacho, the 2009 CBST winter internship was not a way of exploring just research science, it was a way of exploring self perseverance.  

Eileen Wong

College: Skyline College 
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

I absolutely love new experiences! Especially fun and engaging ones like CBST. This was my first research internship; not only did I have a chance to develop my laboratory skills; I also had the pleasure of meeting wonderful people. I thought CBST would be just like a lab accompanying any science course but I was wrong. It was so much more since I had to figure out how to identify unknown solutions, purify and isolate proteins without any directions.  There were no step by step instructions like in a lab manual, we had to put our heads together and use all the information we have accumulated to solve the issue at hand. The internship was a dose of healthy brain food and exercise. My mentorDr. Corbacho showed the interns thatwhen we work hard, we also need to take a break and have fun

also. She asked me “do you think it’s healthy to play?” I said “yes.” We played musical chairs, tag, and interactive games where I learned more about myself. I feel very privilege to have been a part of CBST because there are limited opportunities for community college students. I would recommend CBST to anyone who is interested in the sciences, willing to learn, and wanting to explore research. Dr. Corbacho and her colleagues encourage the interns to succeed and so at the end of CBST, we all applied to additional internships in which I hope will be as rewarding as this one.

Gurjaspreet Bhattal

College: Yuba College 
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

The CBST winter internship proved to be one of the most fruitful and memorable experiences of my life. Everything - from associating with other interns with diverse backgrounds to utilizing my knowledge of science in the research project - was a learning experience. Contrary to my impression of a research lab, the atmosphere here was full of enthusiasm. Our task revolved around research activity concerning purification of a protein from contaminated samples.

Every intern zealously participated in the lab work and also in the extracurricular activities during the breaks. Our mentor, Ana M. Corbacho, planned every activity in such a way that it prepared us for future research projects while helping us on the path of self-discovery. During the research, I learned and performed tests like the BCA protein assay, Griess reagent test and the Bradford protein assay which were completely new to me. Besides the lab work, we were also given a tour of the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology and attended the presentations of the researchers working in the center, which further added to our knowledge. Overall, I would rate this internship as an excellent opportunity for community college students for exposure to research. I feel that there wouldn’t have been a better way to spend my winter vacation than participating in this internship, as it not only boosted my confidence but also enhanced my lab and communication skills. 

Jason Bertels

College: Sierra College 
Major: Physics

  One of the earliest personal victories I experienced while
participating in the CBST Winter Internship Program was getting to the lab. Living in Rocklin, I saw an opportunity to start using public transportation. Each way consisted of a 6 mile bike ride and a 50 minute bus ride. Arriving on a

bike was energizing: when we started off our day with a short discussion, I would be antsy to get working. Throughout the internship, keeping our minds fresh was important, as scientific thinking requires creativity. Play-time therefore became an important part of our day, with short breaks helping prevent mental stagnation. My daily bike ride became a component of this culture of
productivity though recreationally refreshed approaches.
Social interaction was another important component of my experience at CBST. My close working relationships with my team mates and the other interns was helpful for working in the lab and communicating. The experiments we carried out were new and exciting, and I learned about how to run the assays and how to work in a team. Knowing how to run an assay is useful when applicable, but knowing how to work in a team in a lab is important in any lab, anywhere. My team and I worked together very well, and I'm sure that that greatly improved my skill development in the lab. Overall, this internship created the best possible environment in which to learn how to work professionally as scientists, and I loved it.

Jonathan Santos

College: American River College 
Major: Cell & Molecular Biology

The CBST Winter Internship was an invaluable experience. Not only did I meet new people with similar interest as mine but I also met an awesome mentor who is pretty encouraging and enthusiastic in helping people reach their goals. One of the most valuable aspects of the internship was working as a team to solve complex problems starting

from scratch, which in my situation was removing contaminants from protein while maintaining it bioactive.
Every day was different, and you learn to deal with unexpected events that can happen during the course of the program. I learned new techniques that will surely help me in future research and even life.
Not having any previous research experience, this internship was a perfect opportunity to get a feel for what research is all about. This internship went beyond just lab science and into solving real world problems that one may encounter. There are few opportunities like this available for community college students that want to get started in research. I had an awesome experience.

Juan Guzman

College: Cañada College (Canada College) 
Major: Biology

I'm currently a student at Canada College with a major in Biology. I have always been fond of science and the classes I take in the subject. At first applying for this internship you may go in thinking that it'll be like in class just doing lab work all day, but this internship is much more than that. The CBST internship let's you put your class acquired skills to test and cross boundaries when you are trying to come up with solutions. What's great about this internship is that it not only reinforces what you learn in school but it makes for a great way to make lifelong friends, and it's a gateway to other great internship out there. I am really glad to have the opportunity to participate in this great experience and if I had the chance I'd do it all over again.

Kendall Carcamo

College: Cañada College (Canada College) 
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

It’s a what?! The best hands on internship I’ve been a part of. These past two weeks have been filled with excitement and wonderful memories.  The first day is filled with nervousness and anxiousness, but that is quickly changed with icebreakers, games, skits, and a bowling night. The next few days you will experience personal

growth, and will apply your knowledge of science into a research project. This might sound overwhelming but not at all, a typical day at work for me went by quickly. First I meet with my group: “Vortex Steve and the Dynamites”(you could choose your own group’s name) to discuss our agenda. Before you know it it’s twelve o’ clock and it’s time for lunch, many times we found asking ourselves where the time went. Lunch is fun you get to interact with all your friends and play games.  I usually brought my lunch but there are many places around the grounds that you could go get some good food. The remaining time we spent researching, I especially enjoyed pippeting it’s my favorite thing to do next to making solutions and using the centrifuge.  This might sound a little too mechanical, but not at all, the atmosphere here isn’t like being in class, its very relaxed, open to creativity and fun play. Throughout the day we get breaks in which we all join in on the fun and play games. I would definitely advice anyone who is thinking of applying to do so because this experience should not be passed.

Larisa Lugovskly

College: American River College
Major: Biology

Participating in this internship was one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences that's ever happened to me. I had the privilege of getting to know and befriend 20 students from the most diverse backgrounds imaginable; by the last day, we were like a "second family" to each other. Group discussions, including those about stereotypes, worst-case scenarios, character qualities of a professional, career dreams, etc, have opened my mind beyond previous intellectual understanding. I particularly enjoyed the talks about cancer research that Dr. Corbacho and her colleagues atCBST are involved in.

    One of the most valuable things I gained from these two weeks is the opportunity to think "outside the box" in order to solve real-life biological research problems. When answering questions at the final evaluation, I couldn't believe the great amount of information I've learned during two weeks. Dr. Ana Corbacho's mentoring has impacted me greatly because of her desire to make all of her interns succeed, and genuine friendliness; because of this, and my experience in an actual lab setting, I've modified my career aspirations to include the option of being a researcher in the field of dentistry. I am incredibly grateful for this invaluable experience, and for the opportunity to get to know the wonderful students and Dr. Corbacho during these two weeks.

Leng Mut

College: Sacramento City College 
Major: Chemical Engineering

I really enjoyed the two weeks of the Community College Winter Internship at CBST from January 5-16, 2009. I met many great students from different backgrounds. We still keep in touch with each another. I had never had as much fun as I did during the Winter Internship. I used to feel lonely because I don't have a family in the U.S; however,

after doing the two week internship, I feel that I am not alone anymore. We did a lot of activities that brought us together. Most of us will keep in contact with each other after we transfer to the four-year university. 
This internship is a great opportunity for interns to have a chance to be exposed to laboratory, and it opens the door for future internships. I discovered that I really enjoy working in a team. We used our skills to solve real problems. I developed new lab skills because I had never done any lab work that is related to protein purification. Not only was I exposed to hands-on laboratory work experience, I also learned soft skills from our mentor, Doctor Ana M. Corbacho. She challenged interns to overcome stereotypes as well as educating us on how to prepare to be successful in life. Finally, I would like to thank to Doctor Corbacho and CBST for making this Winter Internship available for Community College students.

Moses Evbuomwan

College: American River College
Major: Cell & Molecular Biology

The Center for Biophotonics, Science and Technology (CBST) winter internship was a wonderful experience that I can’t just describe in words.  I would recommend students interested in science and research to be a part of this great program to get the full gist.  The invaluable experience I gained working as a team member in a research lab

setting outside a regular school setting was incredible.  The program was highly coordinated and organized to get a diverse student body to work together as a team, get to know each other, and gain valuable scientific knowledge. The highly multicultural environment was very accommodative and informative.  It was an experience that I would forever cherish and I consider it a great privilege and an honor to have participated in the program.  The mentorship from Dr. Corbacho was excellent.  She was very informative and was a great resource for me.  More so, she gave me the inspiration to do more and succeed in my academic endeavor.  The CBST staffs were also wonderful and for the interns, they were simply the best.

My Tran

College: American River College
Major: Nutritional Science Specializing Physiology & Metabolism

Hello, I am My Tran and I am currently a sophomore at American River College majoring in Nutritional Science. Honestly, I came into the Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology with little knowledge of research and lab

skills. As the two weeks proceeded, I learn a tremendous amount of hands-on experience that I did not receive in a regular science course. From CBST, I learned to interact with my community and build relationships. Everyone in this internship came from different backgrounds and had something different added to the team. Working as a team, we learn how to become a leader, respect each other’s opinions, and contribute to the research project. Dr. Ana Cobacho definitely provided us with the motivation to strive to the success of our research project. The knowledge I gain from this internship surpassed my expectations coming into the internship. I am glad I was part of the 2009 CBST Community College Internship, for it widened my view on science and its applications. Although I am a nutritional science major, I still want to explore other fields of science. This internship encouraged me to remain open-minded to the possible different fields of science waiting for me to find. 

Samantha Vavricek

College: Folsom Lake College
Major: Biology

My experience during the CBST Winter Internship was positive and unforgettable.  In only two weeks I was able to improve my laboratory techniques and I gained more confidence in my academic and personal abilities. The elements that most influenced me were the changing stereotypes session, learning each other’s personal story, and

experiencing research first hand. The hardest part was giving our presentations on the last day; this is not a strong skill for me so I had to step out of my comfort zone. Ultimately, I was able to give a good presentation with the support of my peers and next time I will be that much more experienced.  As this was my first time participating in an internship I was not sure what to expect out of the other interns. I first noticed how much each of us had in common even though we were from such different walks of life. I realized there were others who were going through the same or similar ups and downs as me and therefore we all had an immediate connection. I believe from this internship I have met a great group of people that I now consider friends; who will continue to be a part of my life as I continue with my college career.  I am very thankful to our mentor Dr. Ana Corbacho for making this internship unique. She made it so each day was a balance with working hard on our research project and having fun. After this experience, I feel I have become a better candidate when applying to summer internships but also an overall stronger student.  Thank you CBST and staff for teaching me about the world of Biophotonics and letting me participate in this rewarding experience. 

Steve Huerta

College: Yuba College
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

This internship was full of “firsts” for me; it was my first experience in research, my first time commuting daily, my first time navigating unfamiliar roads alone, my first time I was to work with so many people I had never even met

before, and, believe it or not, my first time really enjoying every single day while learning so much. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous about the whole thing going into it, but I could honestly tell after our first meeting that I was really going to like the next two weeks. Dr. Ana M. Corbacho, the program director, did an amazing job in creating an upbeat and friendly environment that I was glad to be a part of; in addition, she exceeded all my expectations as both a professional scientist and a skilled educator and mentor. To me, a huge part of the learning experience not only included what was on the program schedule, such as activities that helped us open our eyes to the professional world, analyze cultural stereotypes, and prepare us for future career endeavors, but also what it was like to go out on my own and be a strong independent while experiencing something new and unfamiliar, all the while meeting new and interesting people who soon became friends along the way. If you are thinking about applying for this internship, but are daunted by all the “firsts” it may entail like I was, I cannot stress enough how much this opportunity is for you! 

Thi Le

College: West Valley College
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

The Winter Research Internship at CBST was a real eye-opener experience to me. I came to the program with anxiousness. This is the first internship that I have ever applied for, and I got really excited. I came from West Valley College in San Jose, which takes two hours to drive here. The first experience of living in Sacramento was awesome. I stayed at a friend’s house, and drove to the center everyday. What I loved about the area is not much of traffic to worry

about. If I do not have car available, I can take the bus or light rail. There is free shuttle service take me from the light rail station to the medical center which is across the street from the center. 
Another amazing experience that I have is the opportunity to learn and to have great hand-on experience working in the lab. Dr. Corbacho and the staff have been really helpful to assist us with new procedures, new equipments and new problem solving techniques. I was enchanted with how she and the staff grouped my team together. I found the four of us, team Tetra Dynamos, had similar temperament. We worked so well as a team, each member has her unique talent that brings to the team and contribute to the success of the project. From the Internship, we gained friendship, understanding, skills such as how to be an effective leader, how to be a positive follower, and how to take turn to be in charge and let others to be in charge. All of these skills will be the great foundation for my future career, and I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to be part of the program, to meet so many wonderful people, to have such great inspiration to pursue greatness in science.

UPDATE 03/23/2009: Thi has been awarded the NSF Summer Undergraduate 
Research Experiences (SURE) at the Center on Polymer Interfaces and
Macromolecular Assemblies (CPIMA), Stanford University.

Tran Vo

College: Cosumnes River College
Major: Biochemistry & Biophysics

Going to the Winter Internship is one of the best decisions that I have made during my years in community college. There are many things that I have learned, gained, and been rewarded from this wonderful opportunity. Among them were the miraculous work of some chemicals that eventually cure cancers and bring hopes for people who have this deadly disease, the priceless experiences that I had been always dreaming about, and the amazing people that I had the

chance to work and develop long-lasting friendship with. However, above everything was the opportunity to think, act, and grow. I remember that in attempting to solve problems, each member of my group had different ideas.  However, only one idea would be finalized, and for most of the time, the reason for it was because other ideas were not practical. In relating to real life, I realize that ideas can only be turned into reality when they are supported by the available sources, which are crucial for gaining success. Besides, I also learned that it does not matter how successful a professional is, being humble is the only way that he or she can earn respect from other people. In fact, through the lab work and the activities, Dr. Ana Corbacho did an excellent job in showing the interns how to become a “real” professional who has not only knowledge and morals but also the ability to balance and cope with problems. Finally, if someone asked me what I have gained from this internship, the following three words are good enough to describe how I feel: knowledge, confidence, and compassion.

Veronica Pardo

College: Los Rios Community College District
Major: Chemistry

Participating as a winter intern at CBST was a unique experience for me.  I am thankful for all the ups and downs of the brief, but intense, project. Prior to the winter internship, my only lab experience occurred in the classroom.  CBST offered me an opportunity to work with a four-person team toward a common scientific purpose.  Our objective was to identify possible contaminated 16 K Prolactin samples, clean those samples, and determine our recovery in weight.  We only partially met the goal.  The fact that scientific deadlines are hard to meet was one of many appreciated lessons.  I discovered that working with a team of four is unlike working individually or with a lab partner.  It is important to communicate effectively, exercise time management and pay attention to one another.  I believe I practiced these skills, but have yet to master them.  Another lesson I learned is that scientists make mistakes, a lot of them!  Sometimes experiments go awry and it is best to just take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and advance on.  I also realized that research takes serious dedication and patience.  It is possible to put your heart and soul into a project that may never be recognized.  You must be passionate about your investigation.  Ultimately, the experience expanded my understanding of scientific research.  Dr. Corbacho was an inspirational mentor who provided exceptional guidance.  I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues, CBST, UC Davis and the National Science Foundation for this valuable internship.     

Victoria Ontiveros

College: Sacramento City College
Major: Zoology

What can I say, the internship was an amazing experience working in a professional and yet fun environment with other interns made me not want to leave.  I had so much fun meeting new people with different cultural and

academic backgrounds.  It was comforting to be around people whom share a passion and respect for science in all fields. The staff members were friendly and encouraging, for they really enjoy their work and love to educate.  The research project was a self-growing experience, in which you learn how to work together as a team in groups but also figure out solutions to problems independently, which mirror real-world practices in any job. The special tour of the CBST facility was a fascinating and memorable moment that satisfied my curiosity of seeing the research instruments used for experiments that usually wouldn’t be granted for public viewing.  The group activities were fun to take part in during breaks, especially working in the lab for long hours.  We had staring contests, played dodge ball, freeze tag, duck-duck goose, and went out for bowling night.  I advise any college science major to participate in this internship as it is a great place to educate yourself to new things, build friendships and find new career opportunities.