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Skidmore College

Parents Council supports internships in medicine

April 29, 2013

Thanks to support awarded by the Parents Council and President's Advisory Council, two Skidmore students will have internships this summer in cutting-edge medical laboratories.

Joining Mount Sinai School of Medicine's World Trade Center Health Research Program, psychology major Hanna Levine '14 will assist on two large-scale studies aimed at investigating post-traumatic stress disorder among World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers.

Emerson O'Donnell '15 and Hanna Levine '14
Emerson O'Donnell '15 and Hanna Levine '14

The Mount Sinai program has evaluated more than 27,000 police officers, construction workers, firefighters, and municipal workers in the years following the attack, and has ascertained that this population suffers from a high incidence of medical conditions. With $4000 in support from the President's Advisory Council, Levine will be involved in data entry and recruitment of subjects, applying skills she has learned while working in both a cognition lab and social psychology lab at Skidmore.

Levine is attracted by the opportunity to "contribute to research that is not only fascinating but also highly impactful in terms of thousands of individuals' everyday functioning." Moreover, she adds, the summer experience is "directly aligned with my career goal, which is to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology."

"Ultimately, I’d like to teach and conduct research at the college or university level, focusing specifically on ways in which memory and cognition are impacted by exposure to traumatic events," she says.

Awarded a $4000 grant from the Parents Council, neuroscience major Emerson O'Donnell '15 will join team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that is developing robotic limbs for paralyzed individuals and amputees. Working with neurosurgeon and researcher Elizabeth Tyler-Kabara, O'Donnell will record patients' sensations as their brains are stimulated and work with trial subjects as they attempt to complete various manipulation tasks using the robotic limbs.

"I expect to gain a better picture of several paths I could end up pursuing after graduation, helping me eventually to decide if a career in research or as a neurosurgeon is for me," he says. "By being present at the forefront of this relatively new field, I'll be able to learn a lot about the challenges of translating the language of the brain into the binary language of a computer program."

Five students out of a total of 73 applicants were invited to present their internship proposals to a group of judges on April 21. Levine and Emerson were named the winners.

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