Skip to main content
Article
Previous interns share about their experiences and careers since leaving Sanford Lab.
Erin Broberg

Over the past ten years, Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) has hosted internships for dozens of undergraduate students, providing opportunities you just can’t find anywhere else. Interns at Sanford Lab work with professionals from around the globe on world-leading research. Depending on the position, interns gain hands-on experience on unique engineering projects, stimulating science writing or experiments in the fields of particle physics, biology, chemistry and geology. 

“For Sanford Lab, internships are an investment in the future,” said Peggy Norris, deputy director for Education and Outreach at Sanford Lab. “A strong STEM workforce in South Dakota is crucial for the future health of the lab and its workforce. For the student intern, internships are an important component of their education. Internships reinforce their choice of careers, or perhaps they will realize that a career path is not for them. In either case, they will learn important life and work skills.”

Sanford Lab is now accepting applications  for internships in the fields of physics, chemistry, geology, engineering, science education and communications, journalism or related disciplines.The deadline to apply is Jan. 16, 2019. If you are student (or if you know a student) who is interested in an opportunity that allows you to work in—or alongside—exciting research, take some time this winter break to apply. Applications can be found at: https://www.sanfordlab.org/job-posting/intern 

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories of previous interns whose experiences at Sanford Lab have taken them to exciting careers. Today, we are sharing three of those stories. Look for more in the following weeks. 

Christel Peters, communications intern turned research communications coordinator

In 2017, Christel Peters interned in the Sanford Lab communications office, recording and promoting the unfolding story of Sanford Lab. Peters graduated from Black Hills State University (BHSU) and, in March 2018, became the research communications coordinator at the University of Maine. This week, she shared with us her thoughts about this exciting position. 

What does this position as research communications coordinator mean to you?

"This position is important to me personally because it is the first position in my new career — and I love what I do. Before I made my career-change from working in healthcare for fifteen years, I 'had' to go to work. Now, I 'get' to go to work," Peters said. 

What are some of your big accomplishments at the University of Maine so far?

"To date, I have planned, produced and implemented a monthly e-newsletter that includes research stories and current news and announcements about funding and research-related topics. I implemented social media accounts to reach an ever-growing audience of stakeholders. I’m also in the final phases of creating an annual report to be printed and showcased digitally on our website. I host a monthly meeting for research communicators on campus to support and strategize upcoming communications. I even chair committees for the planning of an annual event. And I get to keep learning—every day! It’s fun!" she quipped.

How does your experience at Sanford Lab apply to your current position?

"My internship at Sanford Lab boosted my confidence and showed me my decision to work in communications was the perfect fit for me. I miss Sanford Lab but love to continue watching its story digitally! Of course, it’s always fun to start a story with, 'One time, when I was a mile underground…'" Peters said.

David Molash, science continues at the 4850

David Molash’s internship at Sanford Lab has lead him ever deeper into the field of particle physics. After his 2014 internship, he graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SD Mines) and took advantage of several leadership opportunities through his involvement in the Army ROTC. In September 2017, Molash accepted a position with the physics department at SD Mines as a dark matter laboratory technician. He took a moment to share insight into the work he does every day.

What type of projects do you tackle as a dark matter laboratory technician?

"My principle duties after starting this position were to construct, test and commission the LZ Underground Radon Reduction System (RRS), which provides low radon air to the clean space on the 4850 Level. In July 2018, we successfully moved the system from SD Mines to the underground location at Sanford Lab," said Molash.

"Now, we have begun construction of the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS) RRS," explained Molash. "The SuperCDMS RRS will be installed at the SNOLAB underground science laboratory, which is located two kilometers below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury Ontario, Canada. This system will provide low radon air to the clean space of the SuperCDMS Dark Matter Search Experiment in 2019."

What other areas of leadership have you stepped into? 

"Since January of 2015, I have been a member of Sanford Lab’s Cultural Advisory Committee," Molash said. "The committee advises key stakeholders on the importance of science education, policies and initiatives that support Sanford Lab’s commitment to integrate South Dakota's diverse culture into its operations. I am just one member of a team that includes educators, community members and state government representatives. This team serves to represent American Indian and local interests, including the educational and economic impact Sanford Lab’s activities have on Tribes within the region."

"Additionally, since graduation, I have had several opportunities to participate in training and professional military education across the country and overseas as a Firing Platoon Leader and Battery Executive Officer with A Battery, 147th Field Artillery," Molash shared. "I also volunteer as a Team Member for the Pennington County Search and Rescue team. I have been with PCSAR since January 2016."

How does your previous experience at Sanford Lab inform your current position at SD Mines? 

"The experiences I’ve gained during my internship has directly translated to my current job," said Molash. "I have been able to use my understanding of underground operations and experiments at Sanford Lab to better prepare the LZ RRS for its move and installation at the 4850 Level."

Anna Hafele, a learner on the move

After interning in 2015 at Sanford Lab, Anna Hafele graduated with double majors in biology and outdoor education from BHSU. Since then, she has been on the move. Hafele has had positions as museum education intern at the Journey Museum, research technician for the Ramsey Lab and conservation and land management intern in Northern New Mexico. Now, she is pursuing a Master of Science in Integrative Genomics from BHSU, while completing seasonal research with Nevada Conservation Corp/AmeriCorps at the Great Basin Institute. Below are some of Halefe's thoughts on this conservation experience. 

What does seasonal research with Nevada Conservation Corp/AmeriCorps at the Great Basin Institute entail? 

"I am a part of an arid lands restoration crew that is planting habitat islands in burn areas for the desert tortoise in the Mojave Desert," Hafele explained. "I camp with a crew of 10-15 people for 4-8 consecutive days in remote areas close to where plots have been established in the Mojave Desert. The goal of the project is to create habitat islands in areas that are not recovering well from past fires for the desert tortoise, a threatened species in southern Nevada. I spend a majority of my work day planting baby creosote bushes, Joshua trees and white bursage."

Why is this work important to you, personally?

"The current position is trying out some unique methods in restoration and I am excited to be a small part of that," Halefe explained. "I also really love the people and the organization I work with and the areas we work in are just gorgeous."

How are you applying the skills or knowledge you gained from your internship at Sanford Lab?

"The internship at Sanford Lab helped me with some of my previous internships," said Halefe. "I use the organizational and communication skills I gained during the experience!"

For more information on internships at Sanford Lab, visit https://www.sanfordlab.org/job-posting/intern. If you were an intern at Sanford Lab and would like to share about your experience, please contact us at communication@sanfordlab.org