Sofia Krause, a Senior at Greenwich Academy in Connecticut
September 22, 2022
The past 2 months, I had the unique opportunity to serve as a research intern for the Global Virus Network (GVN). Entering this internship, I had many expectations and envisioned many opportunities for learning and developing. My assignments for GVN included creating a research poster, helping to develop a website that aims to educate the general public about Monkeypox, designing an infographic, meeting many incredible individuals through interviews and team meetings, and learning about prevalent viruses of interest. I also hosted a virtual lunch, gained a broader understanding of different career paths, curated daily news articles, and composed many essays that I can read, reflect on, and learn from in the coming years.
In reflecting on the many opportunities over the course of my internship, creating a research poster and developing a site sparked my interest and curiosity most deeply. Over the past 2 months, I had the opportunity to research Monkeypox, a virus of increasing concern and one that has recently been declared a global health emergency. The central goal of the site is to provide relevant resources and information to educate the public about Monkeypox. It seeks to provide the most current, and relevant information in a manner that is easily understood and accessible.
I also developed for the site a research poster that investigated both the specific treatment techniques against Monkeypox and the similarities in the genomes of Smallpox and Monkeypox, my central research question being: How can the Smallpox vaccine afford roughly up to 85% protection against Monkeypox, and what about both viruses allows them to be similar enough to do so? Through my research, I found that both genomes are linear, double-stranded DNA molecules, and both viruses are cytoplasmic, meaning that the pathogen directly infects the host cell but the pathogen’s DNA is not integrated into the nucleus of the host cell. Due to these similarities, both poxviruses share enough genetic likeness to afford some level of protection. Additionally, I researched the Jynneos vaccine, the ACAM2000 vaccine, and the antiviral drug TPOXX against Monkeypox.
I learned much about virology and research over the course of my internship, but, through this experience, I also became a better public speaker and researcher, and a stronger communicator and critical thinker. Creating the research poster, infographic, and site, and curating the daily news articles helped make me a more compelling researcher and analyst. The team meetings, conversations, interviews, and presentations also made me a more confident public speaker.
Coming into this internship just a short 2 months ago, I felt set on the idea of pursuing either a career in research or going to medical school. Those aspirations have not changed, but, through all of the experiences I had at GVN, the possibility of pursuing a career in public health and public health policy has become very intriguing to me.
I would undoubtedly recommend this internship to any student interested in science, as it truly gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone in virology research, and scientific discussions to learn the many aspects of a career in virology that are seldom taught in the classroom.
This experience has exceeded my expectations, exposed me to aspects of science and research that I never imagined I would have the opportunity to explore and has equipped me with incredibly important skills that I can bring into my future.
Here is a link to the demo site: https://gecko-quillfish-4egj.squarespace.com/