RISE: Ragon Institute Summer Experience

Date: August 6, 2021 By: Ellisya Lindsay

On July 6, 2021, the Ragon Institute launched RISE, the Ragon Institute Summer Experience. Working with local communities, RISE provides an opportunity for local high school students to explore STEM through summer internships at the Ragon.  

Starting an internship program is never easy, and certainly no less challenging during the latter half of a pandemic. The RISE team had to get creative to develop an internship program that was both safe and a meaningful learning experience. This year, it moved from typical wet lab projects to data science ones, which can be done virtually. Eight interns joined the Ragon workforce for a six-week internship, with interns attending class, completing projects, and joining virtual social hours during their 25 hour workweeks. 

With the mentees came the need for mentors – in this case, Ragon faculty and graduate students, who provided projects, advice, and supervision to the interns. Several of the graduate students also gave one-hour lectures as part of a weekly immunology class for the interns, under the supervision of Ragon Member, Shiv Pillai, a professor at Harvard Medical School and one of their most lauded teachers. 

“RISE has provided me with experience with my dream job that I would otherwise not be able to experience,” said Marckenley, an intern from Brockton High School, who worked in the Bryson lab learning to convert research data files. “Not only was the internship in the field that I wanted to go into, but it also had coding, which is one of my other interests.” 

After this successful first program, Ragon Director of Education and Outreach Don Pinkerton’s future plans for RISE include an expansion to an onsite internship as soon as it is safe to do so, allowing the students to gain valuable, and literal, hands-on experience in a lab. shares a bit about the future of RISE. “We plan to stay local,” Don says, “and provide opportunities to students who may not always have access to early STEM experiences. The goal is to democratize science so everyone can participate.”  

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