ISB News

ISB Q&A: High School Intern Alex Kuo

Alex Kuo, ISB high school intern 2014

Alex Kuo was a high school intern during summer 2014. She reflected on her ISB experience:

Q: What were your first impressions of ISB?
Alex: ISB is a pivotal force in Seattle’s scientific community, especially when it comes to collaboration across multiple disciplines. Given the magnitude and complexities of the research that’s done at ISB, it would seem unlikely that a high school student would be able to participate in any projects. And yet, there we were diving into breakthrough science. The neon green and blue walls were hard to miss, too.

Q: What made you most nervous about working ISB?
Alex: I was one of those students who couldn’t figure out, at first, how to use the keycard to get in the building! I also found myself staring into the crack between the elevator and the floor wondering if anyone had ever dropped a keycard into the abyss.

Q: What qualities of the Baliga Lab high school internship program inspired you the most?
Alex: The program supports the student beyond just providing a roomful of expensive technology. It was valuable to experience the pace and demands of a high-intensity environment, and also to understand the necessity of passion to fuel ambition. ISB is very collaborative in nature unlike many institutes I have visited. I think that this collaborative force encourages the staff to continue to learn on the job.

Q: What did you learn?
Alex: My experiences at ISB mainly encompassed instrumentation and automation. My mentor was  Chris Lausted, who’s a senior research engineer. The skills I learned about biotechnological instrumentation and automation I was able to incorporate into an extra-curricular team project focusing on using CAD (computer aided design) to develop a fully functional heart model using mostly 3D-printed materials. At ISB, I also participated in grand-scale projects such as the 100K Wellness Project, and observed various undergraduate projects.

Q: What was the impact of your internship at ISB?
Alex: There are severe limitations related to the standard school curriculum. While textbooks can talk about concepts, there’s an unfortunate disconnect between what’s in a book versus the real-life applications of such concepts. There are few opportunities that open a window for students to experience reality. That makes the summer internship program at ISB even more remarkable. My experience at ISB was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I believe that internships like what ISB has to offer are imperative for youth. They need this kind of inspiration to drive them to learn and the opportunities to expand their experiences.

SUMMER 2015 INTERNSHIP APPLICATION DEADLINE IS MARCH 31 Learn more…

Recent Articles

  • Ilya Shmulevich

    ‘A Life Like No Other:’ Remembering Beloved ISB Professor Ilya Shmulevich

    Devoted husband and father. Animal lover. Accomplished pianist. Avid cyclist. Compassionate human. Exceptional scientist. The ISB community mourns the loss of Professor Ilya Shmulevich, PhD, who died on April 13, 2024. He was 54 years old.

  • Making Nutrition and Healthcare Personalized, Predictive, and Preventive

    Dr. Sean Gibbons is creating a new precision nutrition platform called My Digital Gut that leverages the gut microbiome to make nutrition and healthcare personalized, predictive, and preventive. In an ISB Research Roundtable presentation, Gibbons spoke about My Digital Gut and other microbiome-related projects studied in his lab.   

  • Spotlight on ISB Education graphic

    2023-24 School Year ISB Education Highlights

    Each month throughout the 2023-2024 academic year, we will highlight some of the top projects the ISB Education team is working on. In April, ISB Education presented classroom resources in Spokane, Wash., geared up for summer programs with high school students, and continued its collaborative work with Central Kitsap School District.