Kiley Miller poses on a mountain in Arizona during the JayTerm course trip for the class "Engaging the Sonoran Border."

Kiley Miller ’21 earns NSF internship, joins University of North Dakota lab researching oil pipelines

Created: July 31, 2020  |  Last Updated: July 31, 2020  |  Category:   |  Tagged: ,

WASHINGTON, PA (July 31, 2020)—Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Kiley Miller ’21 had plans to travel to Paris, France for a lab internship putting both of her majors to work. But when everything was postponed, the challenge didn’t throw her off.

Undeterred by the shrinking availability of lab internship opportunities for undergraduates, the biology and French double major, who has a concentration in Interfaith Leadership, applied for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) research experiences for undergraduates (REU) program in search of remote opportunities. Though the competition for these internships was fierce, Kiley stood out in the sea of candidates and earned her position investigating bacteria found in oil pipelines with the University of North Dakota.

“As a first-generation college student, I find great importance in networking with others to better understand the potential career path and opportunities since my immediate family has not attended college,” Kiley said. “In addition, I have had limited research experiences and find it necessary to find these experiences in order to better prepare for graduate school.”

With support from the Franklin Internship Award and armed with the knowledge from her W&J biology courses, Kiley was able to step into her internship opportunity already knowing how to search for scientific literature, formulate research questions and hypotheses and create a research proposal. The background from her time at the College has helped her transition into her internship responsibilities and learn new skills, including using genomic software to research sulfate-reducing bacteria in oil pipelines, which produces high levels of hydrogen sulfide and contributes to the corrosion of pipes leading to environmental pollution. Her research is helping to mitigate this issue and create a safer, longer-lasting pipelines.

“Prior to this internship, I had absolutely no background in coding or genetic software. I have learned computational biology skills that will serve as a tremendous asset to my research career,” she said.

Kiley plans to continue her environmental research following graduation and look for opportunities to do work that studies the relationship between the environment and human health.