The DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering program (RISE) is a summer internship program for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada, UK, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. It offers unique opportunities for bachelor students to work with PhD students in Germany who serve as their mentors in a period of 2 or 3 months. In the last two years, the university participated in this exchange program and two PhD students, Yu Zhang and Dilaware Khan of Prof. Dr. Edda Tobiasch, got two students from UCSD and UCSC in 2011 and two students from Harvard University and University of Ottawa in 2012. They finished their internship in the Lab of Molecular Genetics and Stem Cell Biology on the Rheinbach campus.
This year, two departments (Natural Sciences and Computer Science) were successful in acquiring interns via the RISE program. Yu Zhang, the new PhD student Constanze Kaebisch from the Stem Cell Group in FB05 and Sven Seele from the Institute of Visual Computing in Sankt Augustin got RISE students. 20 undergraduate candidates applied for Yu Zhang’s project. They are from some excellent universities such as Harvard University, Columbia University in US, McGill University in Canada, and Imperial College London in UK. Constanze received 21 applications, among them 17 came from highly motivated females studying at known universities as for example University of Pittsburgh (US), University of British Columbia in Canada and University College London (UK). Sven Seele’s project attracted 12 applicants from prestigious universities like Stanford University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan. After a tight selection, Kelly Liu, Jillian K. Gorski, and Xinyi Chen were selected to be the RISE scholars this year.
Kelly from New York is a third year student studying Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. Jillian, originally coming from Madison (Wisconsin, USA) is a third year Bioengineering student at the University of Pittsburgh. Xinyi was born in Yangzhou, China and was a second year student at Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pennsilvania), but will be transferring to the Georgia Institute of Technology for their Computer Engineering program after his internship. During the summer, Kelly will be working with Yu Zhang on the project of “The p53 functional role in human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation”, and Jillian will be working on Constanze’s PhD sub-project on the altered P2 receptor expression pattern during osteogenic differentiation of bone derived mesenchymal stem cells. Xinyi will help Sven in his PhD project about traffic simulation with cognitive software agents. They will work together for 12 weeks from the beginning of June to the end of August.
If German students are interested in a comparable initiative, the DAAD Rise worldwide program offers funding for undergraduate German students to serve as research assistants. For more information please contact the International Office.
This year’s RISE students and their supervisors. From left to right: Xinyi Chen, Sven Seele, Constanze Kaebisch, Jillian Gorski, Yu Zhang, and Kelly Liu.
Kelly Liu (left) and Jillian K. Gorski (right) in the first line are currently working with PhD students Yu Zhang (left) and Constanze Kaebisch (right) who act as their mentor during their 12 weeks internship. They are working on various subjects in the stem cell field, from investigating p53 signaling in human MSC differentiation (Kelly) and evaluating P2 signaling during bone derived MSC differentiation towards osteoblasts (Jillian).
RISE scholar student first impressions:
from Kelly Liu:
I am a rising junior majoring in biomedical engineering on the cell and tissue track at Columbia University in New York City. I have always wanted to travel to Germany, so I was very excited to discover that DAAD RISE provides opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research in labs all around the country as well as experience its rich culture. The opportunity at Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg aligned well with my interests and field of study, as stem cells and its myriad number of capabilities in regenerative medicine have always intrigued me. My project involves seeing the effect that the tumor suppressor protein p53 has on the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells alongside my PhD student mentor Yu Zhang.
Although I have been in Professor Tobiasch’s lab for only two weeks, I enjoy the small size and atmosphere of the group. Everyone is friendly and willing to help with explaining concepts or experiments. I am glad to devote my summer to working on this research project as well as acquiring new skills, and I look forward to the coming weeks of the internship.
from Jillian Gorski:
I am very excited to have this opportunity to work with Constanze on her project. I am looking forward to learning more about the techniques used to qualify stem cell differentiation, so that I can use this knowledge in future projects in my home country. Rheinbach is the perfect environment to work because it is a small and intimate setting, but full of interesting, intelligent people who share a common interest in science. This is my first time in Europe and I am still getting used to things, so I am lucky to be working with such a fantastic group of people willing to mentor me on both the research and the culture. I am looking forward to doing some exploring while I am here, and am eager to experience so much of what Germany has to offer.
from Xinyi Chen:
I am very grateful to DAAD RISE for taking the initiative in organizing this summer internship program. Immersing in the rich culture of Germany gives me joy and energy every day. In the mean time, my challenging but interesting project keeps up my intellectual growth. Starting a new job in a new place is never easy, but thanks to the help and hospitality of my supervisor Sven Seele, the Institute of Visual Computing and the international office of the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, my transition to the new environment could not have been smoother. For the rest of my time in Germany, I will put my best effort on my project, explore this wonderful country and let more of my friends in the U.S. know about this enriching experience!