A Summer at the Museum

September 09 2016
Category: Academics

This week’s #SoaringToSuccess spotlights Zac Park '17.  The biology and biochemistry double major interned at the Smithsonian Institution`s National Museum of Natural History. However, he wasn’t dusting off artifacts or studying ancient bones, he was actually conducting government research related to Lyme disease. 

Zac Park

Here is what Zac had to share about his experience:

This summer I had the opportunity to work as a research intern in the entomology department of the Smithsonian Institution`s National Museum of Natural History. The entomology department actually has three distinct branches, the main branch housed on the National Mall, a branch affiliated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and a branch affiliated with the Department of Defense (DoD). I was interning with the branch affiliated with the DoD, the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit, which mainly focuses on insects that transmit diseases to humans.

My project involved tracking the prevalence of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease in dogs across the United States. Using a large data set, I was able to create disease prevalence maps that show areas where tick-borne diseases are most prevalent. This information can be used by the DoD to better protect service men and women and their families who are stationed in regions where tick-borne disease rates are high. The data is also being used in a larger study that will determine the viability of regional trends in Google searches as a predictor of areas where outbreaks are going to occur.

This internship provided me with amazing opportunities for networking as well as both personal and professional growth. I had the opportunity to work with organisms that I hope to study in graduate school and in my future career. I also had a lot of fun and enjoyed the opportunity to experience the rich culture of D.C.

If you are interested in highlighting your summer internship experience, please contact Julie Fielding at the Office of Career Services.