by Kelly Webber, Summer Director

If you’ve spent any time in Kline Hall, you’re sure to recognize Senior Chemistry Major Sarah O’Boyle. Sarah is a Supplemental Instruction leader for various chemistry classes and will be Vice President of the Chemistry Club in the upcoming school year. After completing her junior year, Sarah is spending the summer at West Virginia University participating in their Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Researchers in the program, NanoSAFE REU, “are characterizing products that contain silver nanoparticles that could pose potential health risks to construction workers.”

Sarah makes the most of her time at Messiah; by getting involved in clubs and programs related to her major, she found a community in her area of study. This summer, she is finding her community in West Virginia. “This program brings together undergrads from smaller schools of different ages and different scientific disciplines. I think it’s great how we can all learn from and encourage each other and share our experiences.”

Although any new job is difficult at first, Sarah is up to the task. “The biggest challenge for this program is definitely brining myself up to speed with the project that I am jumping into. There are a lot of techniques that are specific to the lab that I need to make myself familiar with.” She notes that Messiah helped significantly in preparing her for research opportunities. “My chemistry classes have prepared me very well for this experience. My independent research has especially prepared me well for this level of project and the general research process.”

Sarah is enjoying her research and hopes to use what she learns this summer as a stepping stone into further academic and vocational opportunities. “I am interested in going to grad school in the field of materials chemistry and/or nanotechnology, so this is a really valuable way to see the greater impact of these fields.”

Research and internships are a great (and practical) way to spend the summer. Students of all disciplines who follow Sarah’s lead are sure to find a deeper sense of calling and vocation in their area of study. During the school year, check out the Career and Professional Development Center, or speak to a professor/mentor in your field, to find the right fit for you.