Students Become Scientists at Science Skills Boot Camp

By Kaylee Towey, WHK Student Intern; photos by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer
Boot camp science experiments.

The Science Skills Boot Camp gave interns a chance to expand their knowledge of simple bench techniques.

At the 2016 Science Skills Boot Camp (SSBC), a one-day training program designed for NIH summer interns with little or no prior research experience, students gathered to learn about basic research and laboratory skills. The boot camp provided a unique opportunity for interns to expand their knowledge of simple bench techniques, scientific papers, and ways to communicate their research.

SSBC was hosted by the Office of Intramural Training and Education, which ensured that every intern left the workshop with the resources needed to have a successful summer of science.

The majority of the boot camp focused on laboratory research, and the afternoon sessions concentrated on skills wet lab students need to know. These obligatory skills were a hands-on refresher that got students involved.

Intern Madelyn Hurwitz, Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation, already knew several of the skills, but she thought the workshops were engaging, “very useful for review, and… a chance to work a little more closely with some of the other interns.”

The event was also open to dry lab interns, since skills like presenting and networking are used by everyone.

Of all of the workshops, the fan favorite was the poster presentation lecture. Defne Bayik, Ph.D., Cancer and Inflammation Program, offered tips on how to construct a viewer-friendly poster, providing examples of her previous work. Bayik emphasized the importance of using bullet points and pictures, and practicing before the presentation.

The lecture came at just the right time, as Student Poster Day is fast approaching. For many interns, this will be their first time presenting a scientific poster.

Intern Joshua Lee, Data Management Services, said that while the lab skills weren’t necessarily beneficial to him, “the poster presentation was relevant” to what he will be working on this summer. 

In addition to teaching science skills, the boot camp provided interns an opportunity to meet other students. Hurwitz enjoyed “seeing new faces and sharing some basics about our respective labs.”