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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 

This is the second installment of stories from previous interns whose experiences at Sanford Lab have taken them to exciting careers. Look for more in the following weeks. 

Joseph Mammo, propelling the WIMP hunt

After Joseph Mammo’s 2016 science internship at Sanford Lab, he continued in the field of particle physics as a research assistant at the University of South Dakota (USD). There, Mammo developed a cross-platform system that allows researchers to collect and visualize data from research equipment, such as temperature monitors and high voltage detectors. Last April, he presented this system to Congress in Washington D.C. to advocate for STEM research funding. 

Mammo took some time this week to reflect on his path since Sanford Lab.

What is your current position? 

“I am a graduate assistant in the physics department at USD, under the mentorship of Dr. Joel Sander,” said Mammo. “As part of my assistantship, I teach astronomy lab and work on data acquisition systems with researchers from SuperCDMS and MINER dark matter research collaboration groups, who are working to develop a system to detect WIMPs, or weakly interactive massive particles.”

Why is this work important to you, personally?
 
“Currently, we don’t know what makes up 85 percent of the universe. Dark matter, one of the unknown entities, doesn’t interact with baryonic matter normally,” Mammo explained. “In my current position, I get to help develop the detector system that will be able to detect dark matter. If successful, we will discover new physics and help researchers better understand the composition of the universe.”

Did your internship at Sanford Lab help build your expertise in this field? 

“Absolutely! My internship provided me hands-on dark matter research; I worked with researchers from LUX and the Majorana Demonstrator experiment to help calibrate detectors,” Mammo shared. “I also developed and implemented my own data analysis software that analyzes the underground data collected at Sanford Lab using multiple particle detectors. It was an extensive experience in data analysis and dark matter research.”

Ida Clarke, optimizing clean water operations

Ida Clarke interned at the Sanford Lab Waste Water Treatment Plant in 2015. Now, she is a water treatment technician at Denver Water, which serves drinking water to 1.4 million people in the Denver Metro area. Clarke shared some insight into her daily work and why it’s important to her. 

What has your career path looked like since your internship?

“What I learned at Sanford Lab created a foundation. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to work as an operator for one summer,” Clarke shared. “After that, I worked at Cornell University and then Denver Water on research related to waste water and water treatment. During each of these experiences, I learned—not only operations and treatment process—but also the piloting methods used to optimize treatment.”

How are you growing through this position? 

“This project with Denver Water has given me experience in water quality and operating. I'm also training to be an operator and studying to get my license in water treatment,” Clarke said.

“Part of my days are spent as an operator of a pilot study that is testing corrosion inhibitors. Other times I continue my training as an operator of a treatment plant. I also do quite a bit of work in a laboratory,” Clarke explained. “I have a year of experience working in an analytical chemistry lab where I do metal analyses using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS), an EPA method used to identify metals in water.”

What gets you excited to come to work?

“One of the highlights of working on pilot projects is the opportunity to work with different teams. I worked with engineers, operators and water quality specialists. This helped me gain a broad perspective of working with different dynamics of water treatment design, analysis and operations. I think it’s a great way to start a career in any field that has many disciplines,” Clarke said. “I'm also very excited to finally start a career in water treatment as an operator!”

Why is this current position important to you, personally? 

“This experience has helped me realize the potential I have—that I can help solve big problems,” Clarke said. “Right now it's important for me to be good at my job, so I can take what I'm learning now back to my community in Oglala, South Dakota. While it may be a few years before I return there, I want to gain all I can from the work I chose to do now.”

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