Left to right: Justin Sears and Dylan Hatt
Two Fords Serve Summer Science Internships in Germany
Forget California: According to Dylan Hatt ’10, Germany is truly the land of the endless summer. “The higher latitude here, compared to my home in San Diego, gives us an extra two hours of sunlight every day,” he reports.
Hatt and classmate Justin Sears ’10 are both spending this “endless summer” in Germany as interns in the RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) program sponsored by Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, or DAAD (in English: German Academic Exchange Service). The program brings undergraduates from the U.S., U.K. and Canada to work with research groups at universities and institutions across Germany; each intern is matched with a doctoral student who serves as a mentor. A stipend from DAAD covers interns’ living expenses.
Hatt is working at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg. He is part of a group testing the evolutionary models of stars by locating star forming regions. In order to find these regions, they search for Infrared Bubbles, shells of gas that appear around star forming areas with regularity.
Sears is living in Aachen, a small city near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands, and is interning at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at RUTH Aachen, a technical university. Sears is involved with a project focusing on the oxidation of various alcohols in a ball mill, which uses small zirconium oxide beads to grind reagents (substances consumed during chemical reactions) into an extremely fine powder. “This allows the reactions to occur without organic solvents, eliminating a great deal of waste and providing environmentally friendlier transformations,” says Sears, a chemistry major and math minor.
While Hatt is basking in Germany’s surplus sunlight, Sears is relishing the country’s food: “German cuisine is very hearty.” Both are taking advantage of the five-day German rail pass provided by DAAD to travel as often as they can. “The proximity of other towns and cities makes for great day or weekend trips with other members of the RISE program,” says Hatt.
A double major in astronomy and physics, Hatt feels energized by his internship experience. “It’s certainly motivated me to continue conducting astronomy research,” he says. “I also want to seek funding and return to work here in the future.”
Sears says that his RISE internship is preparing him well for graduate school. “If I can adjust to a graduate lab in Germany, where I must attend group meetings and present my work, then I’m confident that I’ll be able to make the transition in the U.S.”