Merck Fellowship Leads W&J Senior to Research Internship at Harvard

Created: January 20, 2017
Last Updated: August 3, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 20, 2016) – Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) senior Aric Brown interned at the Massachusetts General Hospital with Harvard Medical School this summer after receiving his second fellowship from W&J’s Merck Internships for Excellence in Science program.

Interning in the laboratory of Laurence Rahme, Ph.D., in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Aric worked on two main research projects throughout his 12 weeks at Harvard. His chief interest is to study antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a topic he was able to delve into through this internship. Focusing on bacterial pathogenesis, his first research project investigated anti-virulence compounds to target the ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to develop tolerance to antibiotics. His second project characterized the effects of a novel compound in Acinetobacter baumannii.

Aric approached his internship by first finding a school that matched his research topic of interest in pathogenic bacteria. Drawn by the multi-disciplinary work of Dr. Rahme’s lab, which focuses on subjects from pathogenicity to drug development, Aric then reached out to inquire about an internship, and after a successful interview, Dr. Rahme offered Aric a position for the summer.

The cell and molecular biology major hoped the experience of researching in a lab with multiple focuses would help him make more real-world applications and connections in his field of study – and he was right.

Throughout the summer, Aric shared the lab with post-doctoral researchers, visiting graduate students, other undergraduate students, and even some high school students. Under the guidance of his mentor, postdoctoral fellow Damien Maura, Ph.D., Aric opened up a Pandora’s Box of sorts in what he took away from his experience.

“I have tons of data from my summer research projects,” Aric said. “I think I honestly left the lab with more questions than answers in terms of the research.”

The experience Aric gained this summer and the questions and research he came away with has given him a competitive edge in applying to a number of top Ph.D. programs across the country.

While Aric’s internship provided him a leg up toward his future goal of becoming a researcher for an academic or government institution, he credits his education at W&J for his success in getting there.

“I truly felt prepared for my internship and knew I had the tools to learn new lab techniques because of my experiences provided by W&J,” he said.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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