Several School District of Palm Beach County students worked as 2019 summer interns at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), a not-for-profit research organization that is part of the world-renowned Max Planck Society.
According to their website, the MPFI is the first of its kind in the United States, and “brings together exceptional neuroscientists from around the world to answer fundamental questions about brain development and function and to develop new technologies that make groundbreaking scientific discoveries possible.”
The interns worked alongside professional neuroscientists to conduct real-life experiments.
“I wanted to be a part of something where I could make a contribution, working and collaborating with others in the same field as me,” said Brandon Wisnicki, a senior at Suncoast Community High School.
Wisnickiworked specifically in the computer science internship, a position he sought out to challenge his mind, instead of sitting around all summer or working at a less intellectually stimulating job.
One of his tasks involved experiments with lab mice to create a virtual reality software that allowed for improved study of the hippocampus, the region of the brain that governs memory.
Jose Delgado, a senior at Lake Worth Community High School, worked on hybridizing chemical receptors in the brain. He has aspirations of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon, and is excited about the experience he gained through this internship.
“It’s one thing to read about something like this in a textbook, but it’s a whole other thing to get hands-on work experience,” Delgado said.
Eesha Shah is an equally ambitious senior at Spanish River Community High School, and she worked side-by-side with scientists to learn different lab techniques. During the school year she is in her school’s biotechnology program, working towards her goal of becoming a biomedical engineer. This summer during her internship, she was able to see what it was like as a full-fledged scientist in the lab.
“I got to see real-life application and real-life research,” Shah said.
Each summer, Max Planck receives nearly 100 applicants for its internship program, but only hires five to seven students. At the conclusion of the six-week program duration, students give a presentation summarizing their experiences, ultimately leaving the program with valuable knowledge they will use for years to come.