Inside Rensselaer
* Students Complete Mini-Semester at Brookhaven Labs
Students Complete Mini-Semester at Brookhaven Labs
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Brookhaven National Laboratories’ College Mini-Semester program offers undergraduates a glimpse into a research career. Rensselaer
students (l-r) Alexandra Colello, Allan Minns, and Alyssa Montalbano were among 33 U.S. college students selected to attend the highly
competitive program.
Students Complete Mini-Semester at Brookhaven Labs

Three Rensselaer undergraduates recently spent a week at Brookhaven National Laboratories (BNL), networking with leading scientists and exploring some of the world’s most sophisticated research facilities as preparation for careers in science.

Alexandra Colello, Allan Minns, and Alyssa Montalbano were among 33 U.S. college students selected to attend BNL’s highly competitive College Mini-Semester program in January. The program is designed to encourage promising science students, offer a glimpse of opportunities available to them, and assist and advise them on internships and careers.

The experience prompted Montalbano, a physics major in Rensselaer’s accelerated B.S./Ph.D. program, to apply for a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship. Montalbano learned of her acceptance in mid-February. She will spend the summer working at one of the facilities she toured at BNL — the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, the world’s only spin-polarized proton collider. It will be her first research experience, and “I am ecstatic,” she said.

For Minns, a materials science and engineering major, the week at BNL affirmed that he’d chosen the right course of study. “I really enjoyed hearing the researchers talk about their work on the cutting edge,” he said, “especially since, no matter what their discipline, materials science was involved. Whether they were talking about biotechnology, physics, or chemistry, I could see the materials engineering applications.”

Colello, a chemical engineering major, applied to the BNL program to get a firsthand look at a national lab, “to see what researchers do, what tools they’re using, and what the DOE is funding,” she said. The experience gave her a new appreciation for the patience, discipline, and dedication required of researchers. It also pointed her in a different direction, perhaps toward a career in industry where she might see the fruits of her efforts sooner.

All three students appreciated the opportunity to connect with their peers from other universities and to spend time with some of the leading researchers in their fields. According to Noel Blackburn, educational programs administrator, BNL Office of Educational Programs, that’s exactly what BNL intended when developing the program.

“The interaction with the scientists and the exposure to this type of research is second to none,” Blackburn said. “But it’s important, too, that the students get to socialize with others who share their interests and abilities.

“We’re creating an intellectual community of like-minded students,” he added, “and that encourages them to continue their work back at their home institutions.”

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 4, March 4, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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