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A Summer of Science: AAAS 2023 Summer Interns’ Stories

Photo collage of the summer 2023 AAAS interns
Among the 2023 AAAS summer interns are, clockwise from top left to right: Celina Zhao, Julia Greenwood, Anne Hylden, Kiran Ganesh, Michelle Ding, Emily Wilson, Grace Liu and Andrew Saintsing | Emily Wilson/AAAS

Twelve interns joined the AAAS ranks for the summer working on various teams to further the mission of advancing science, engineering and innovation. Within the short span of 10 to 12 weeks, each intern dove into multiple projects and tasks and deepened their knowledge of the organization and the science enterprise. Learn more about the projects they have worked on and the lessons they will carry with them. 

What is/was your major, where do you study and what is your role at AAAS?  

Julia Greenwood: I am a double major in journalism and information design at Ohio University. I am the Visuals Intern at Science magazine, and I work in-person at the DC office.  

Kiran Ganesh: I study environmental and business economics at Rutgers University's Honors College and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. I am the International Affairs and Science Diplomacy intern for the Center for Science Diplomacy, and I work in-person.  

Andrew Saintsing: I studied biomechanics and physiology in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. I work remotely with SciLine on the Experts on Camera project where I help to identify scientists who can talk about subjects of public interest and to coordinate video interviews of those scientists.  

Grace Liu: I am studying biology at Rutgers University. I am currently an intern at the Office of Government Relations, and I work mostly in-person with some days remote.  

Anne Hylden: I have a bachelor's in chemistry (College of St. Benedict) and a master's in inorganic chemistry (University of Pennsylvania). Right now, I am a returning student pursuing a master's degree in science writing through Johns Hopkins University. I am an intern for the SciLine team, whose mission is to connect journalists with scientific experts. I (remotely) help with expert matching, which means finding scientists who are good communicators for news journalists to interview when they're on a deadline. I am also helping to develop new training materials for journalists who are interested in incorporating more science into their writing.  

Celina Zhao: I'm a rising senior studying science writing and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I'm a Diverse Voices in Science Journalism Intern with the News team and I worked hybrid in DC this summer.  

Michelle Ding: I am a rising junior at Brown University studying computer science. I am interning with the Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice (SRJ). I am working a hybrid model. 

Emily Wilson: I am a rising senior at the University of Missouri studying strategic communications, and I am a communications intern, with, you might have guessed it, the Office of Communications! I work a hybrid schedule. With my role, I get to dip my toes into several different areas of comms, like social media, public relations, qualitative strategy, journalism and more.  

Why did you want to intern at AAAS?  

Andrew Saintsing: I'm interested in transitioning away from scientific research into a career in science journalism, and AAAS's dedication to bridging the gap between the scientific community and other institutions made it an attractive place to spend the summer.  

Anne Hylden: AAAS has a great reputation in the scientific community for its publications, its fellowships and its conferences. I wanted to work at a top-notch institution where I could connect with people who believe in the importance of communicating science to the public. 

Celina Zhao: I’ve been a huge fan of the thoughtful, well-reported stories from the news team at Science all throughout college. The standard of research and writing from the incredible reporters here is unbeatable. An internship here is a chance to learn from the best!  

Michelle Ding: I knew I wanted to explore the intersection of science and technology, policy and human rights. The AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and Justice does amazing work with responsible artificial intelligence, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I also really appreciated AAAS's genuine emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of their work, from organizational culture to program projects.  

What does your typical workday look like? 

Julia Greenwood: My normal day includes attending meetings to discuss current and future issues of Science, I assist my managing editors with a wide array of assignments, such as layout designs, picture editing, graphics, social media designs and video editing! I often get to communicate with other editors, researchers, and authors, which has given me great real-world experience! 

Anne Hylden: Besides a couple team meetings per week and some collaborative meetings here and there, I get to work pretty independently. I'll immerse myself in one of my bigger projects for a while (like doing literature searches or developing workshop lesson plans), then when I have a spare hour or two, I'll see if any team members need help filling matching requests. I enjoy big chunks of deep work, but I also like that people check in and share ideas over Slack, and that I can contact any one of them quickly if I have a question.  

Celina Zhao: My day revolves around the news! If I’m not already working on a story, I typically start by running through my inbox and other news organizations to look for potential projects. Once I find an idea, for example, an upcoming scientific study, I’ll pitch it to my editor. If approved, then I’ll immediately reach out to the main researchers and some outside experts for an interview. The news team also has a daily meeting, where we review all the projects on lineup for the day and the coming week. So, each day is a mix of reading, writing, interviewing and editing. The pace is hectic, but it’s always rewarding to see a final product getting published with my byline. It feels so official! 

Emily Wilson: Because I work two days in the office and three out, my days vary, but I usually have one or more meetings, and the rest of the day is dedicated to working on the various projects I have been assigned. Depending on the day, I might get pulled into unscheduled meetings as things come up. There is never a dull day in the OC, and I love the fast-paced environment. The hybrid model has been wonderful because I get two days of interacting face-to-face with my amazing coworkers, and on the days where I work from home, I have the flexibility of working at my apartment or working from a coffee shop for a few hours!  

What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis? 

Andrew Saintsing: I need to edit videos, so experience with Adobe Premiere has been really important. Otherwise, I've relied on basic research skills to find topics, experts and journalists.  

Anne Hylden: My main tasks this summer have involved a lot of reading and summarizing. For the training activities I am helping to develop, I gathered up many resources for journalists interested in writing about science, absorbed them and organized the most important pieces into an outline of what we want to teach. I also get to use my teaching skills (I've worked as a teacher and tutor in the past) as we develop the outlines into full lesson plans.  

Celina Zhao: As a notoriously slow writer, I’d say the main skill is being able to work on deadline. Making sense of all the science and writing an accurate, understandable story are already challenging enough by themselves. But then when you add in a ticking clock, the pressure is heightened even more.  

Emily Wilson: As my job title indicates, strong communication is one of the most important skills for my role. Whether communicating through statements, press releases, social media copy or other, understanding the company branding and tone and how to correctly project that has been an important skill. Beyond that, it is a lot of flexibility, creativity and adaptability as things come up.  

What is the most interesting project you have worked on this summer? 

Julia Greenwood: We are currently working on a very interesting special issue, and I have had the opportunity to work on numerous projects, and having the opportunity to talk with professional researchers has been a real treat! There is still a lot of work to be done on this issue, so I am looking forward to seeing the final product!  

Kiran Ganesh: The most interesting project I have worked on this summer is the brand-new website for the Center for Science Diplomacy. I have been working on front-end content creation and editing, visuals and layout and have learned a lot about website development and design.  

Grace Liu: Probably the current website revamp of Science Beyond Borders, which is working to create more resources to help international scientists and tell their story.  

Michelle Ding: The most interesting project I worked on would have to be the Framework for the Responsible Application of Artificial Intelligence. It is part of a larger (AI)2 initiative within AAAS created to promote responsible development and application of AI. The framework is a decision tree that contains a set of practical steps and resources that guide users who are considering using AI tools along an ethical pathway throughout the AI life cycle. We currently have a version for human rights practitioners and another for policymakers. A key part of the framework is inclusive stakeholder engagement. Individuals and communities who are most heavily impacted by AI usually have the least power over the process. Our decision tree incorporates principles and recommendations from Partnership on AI and ensures that all stakeholders at each step have a rightful voice. It is incredibly rewarding and exciting to be one of the creators of this framework!  

What are your career goals, and how will this internship help you attain them?  

Kiran Ganesh: I am interested in the field of economic policy, specifically in the realm of food, sustainability and energy. Working at AAAS has given me valuable insight into the policy and advocacy spheres and how science can be a tool in improving international relations.  

Grace Liu: I want to pursue law as an intellectual property lawyer, and so this internship is a great way to put my future law school career in perspective as well as explore science policy work.  

Anne Hylden: I want to be a science communicator. I want to make all audiences feel that they belong in wider conversations about science. Right now, I'm focusing on building skills like writing, interviewing and curriculum development because I'm not sure what the "dream job" will look like when I get there. But it could involve writing, speaking or developing multimedia content to help average people engage with science.  

Emily Wilson: I am still figuring out my specific career goals, but I know I want a job in science communications. Hence, why working at AAAS has been so incredible for me! This internship has already given me valuable insight into the industry as well as given me direction on where my specific passions might lie. My team has also been kind enough to offer some networking and career advice, so that has been helpful as well.  

What was the most valuable thing you learned this summer?  

Kiran Ganesh: The most valuable thing I learned this summer is that creating policy for the common good (in and outside of science & technology) takes a lot of patience, coalition-building and active inclusion of diverse voices.  

Grace Liu: I've learned so much, but mostly I've learned a lot about science policy, current news and the roles that non-profits play in the government.  

Anne Hylden: I feel lucky that I get to see the interface between scientists and journalists from a unique perspective. The SciLine team is a bridge between the two, without identifying as one or the other. This gives me a sneak peek into what each group finds annoying or gratifying about working with the other, which I think is valuable information.  

Michelle Ding: Knowing that it is good to ask questions and that the internship (like all other career experiences later on) will be a learning experience. It is not a weakness to admit you don't know something. In fact, a common characteristic of the many experts I have engaged with was how open they were with what they knew and what they didn't.  

How did you develop personally and professionally throughout this internship? 

Julia Greenwood: I am from Ohio, and coming out to DC this summer was definitely a tough transition, but I think I have proven to myself that I can handle a lot. Professionally I have shown to myself that I am capable and that while I still have a lot to learn, my drive for learning will take me far in life! I feel like I am going to learn this summer even more what my ambitions and goals are, and that makes me incredibly excited for my post-graduation life!  

Celina Zhao: I’m getting to work with the best in the whole field! From listening in on people’s ideas and thought processes during our daily news meetings, to working closely with all our fantastic editors, this experience has greatly sharpened my approach to journalism.  

Michelle Ding: No one in my family has a background in STEM and for much of my high school experience, I was discouraged from pursuing computer science. It was only in college that I started to seriously think about doing CS and received the support to do so. My internship at AAAS definitely helped me develop important technical and professional skills, but more importantly, the supportive, collaborative, and inclusive nature of my team and AAAS as a whole helped me develop a strong sense of confidence and belonging in this space. Asian American women are incredibly underrepresented in STEM, especially in positions of power. So, being able to contribute my knowledge, experiences and ideas – not as an intern, but as another member of the team – and see them implemented and published, was extremely empowering.  

Kiran Ganesh: I learned how to communicate effectively in a professional setting and learned to navigate workplace culture in the U.S. context. I identified shortcomings in my professional skills and found ways to improve them, including my work ethic and taking initiative. I made connections with people not only within my team but from other departments and am working on maintaining consistent communication with new professional connections.  

What lessons from your internship will you take with you in your future endeavors? 

Kiran Ganesh: I understood the importance of interdisciplinary expertise in creating effective solutions and will carry that with me to future professional/leadership spaces. I have also been able to sharpen various soft and hard skills, including research writing, MS Office/SharePoint, content creation, website editing and communication.  

Andrew Saintsing: SciLine has given me a new perspective on outreach by scientific researchers and science journalism, and I plan to continue building on these lessons moving forward.  

Grace Liu: I definitely will take lessons on how to be a good team player, write effectively, stay active in my community and be more politically engaged with me in my future endeavors.  

Emily Wilson: I feel like it’s impossible to pick just one! However, I think one key takeaway would have to be understanding that edits are not personal, they are for you to learn and grow and better understand the AAAS brand. With each draft I completed, the edits that I got back only proved to make me a stronger writer and communicator.  

What advice would you give to future interns?  

Julia Greenwood: Bet on yourself. You deserve to be here and make the most of your experience. Connections matter and keeping them is even more important. And good luck! You have found an amazing internship!  

Andrew Saintsing: AAAS is a large organization, so use the opportunity to aspects of it outside of your immediate role.  

Celina Zhao: Time absolutely flies. Meet as many people and try as many new things as you can within these short 10 weeks!  

Michelle Ding: Your internship is what you make of it! If you have ideas, voice them. If you have questions, ask. Treat all your projects like a learning experience, not just tasks you have to check off. And have fun! AAAS is a wonderful place to be an intern.   


Emily D. Wilson

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