Olesay | Biology Internships in Spain (University of New Mexico)
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FILLING A GAP

Offering more than 215 degree and certificate programs, University of New Mexico (UNM) has 87 bachelor’s degrees, 72 master’s degrees and 38 doctoral programs.
It has nearly 157,000 alumni and is a place where cutting-edge research and creative endeavors flourish. UNM research injects millions of dollars into New Mexico’s economy, funds new advancements in healthcare, and augments teaching – giving students valuable hands-on training in state-of-the art laboratories. Among the University’s outstanding research units are the Center for Advanced Research Computing, Cancer Center, New Mexico Engineering Research Institute, Center for High Technology Materials, Design Planning Assistance Center, and the Mind Research Network.
The Department of Biology is one of the largest, most diverse departments at the University of New Mexico. Members of this department conduct research and teach in a wide variety of fields that include Botany, Evolution, Ecology, Microbiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Physiology and Zoology.
This Department was willing to develop one study abroad program with three learning objectives:
1) Gain experience and explore career opportunities within the field of Biology
2) Increase the cultural awareness of students in working and studying abroad.
3) Gain competence in the Spanish language

THE PROGRAM

For the UNM Department of Biology we created Biology Internships in Spain, an 8-week intensive program taking place in Madrid, Spain and designed to provide both professional and international experience to Biology majors.
With this highly participative experience-based program, students get the chance to compare and contrast the career opportunities in Europe and in the US. This learning objective is accomplished through group research visits and individual observations. The choices of company and laboratory visits will align with the institution´s criteria and include visits to prominent scientific institutions such as the INIA (the National Institute for Agronomic Research), the CNI (Spanish National Cancer Research Center), and the Astrobiology Center associated with NASA.

The goal of this program is to show students the broad range of career paths you can follow as a biologist. The choices of institute visits and hosts institutes for internships and shadowing are very diverse.
Highlights
8 -week long summer program in Spain combining coursework and internships
After a 2-week intensive course on Spanish for Science (44 hrs.), students start work on their selected internship site (110 hours). Pairing of students and internship sites will precede arrival in Spain
Students take part in a weekly Internship Seminar (16 hrs.) complimenting the on-site experience
Visits to Biology-related institutions are included in the Seminar
Regional Madrid travel pass is included in the program’s price as well

THE RESULTS

Dr. Salinas, Program Director said:
When advising biology undergraduates, I often tell them that a very big (perhaps THE very biggest) advantage to an undergraduate degree in biology from UNM is the rich opportunity available to become involved in research. Our faculty has a remarkably welcoming attitude towards undergraduates in their laboratories, and many of our undergraduates avail themselves of this opportunity. Rather than simply consigned to wash glassware, or help others in the lab with their projects, the undergraduates in our laboratories are often fully fledged laboratory members, where they gain experience in many aspects of research, present their findings at meetings, and are included on publications. Yet they have very little or no connection with industry and biotechnology removed from academia. This proposed course will provide such connection, by providing students with internships in Spanish industrial or biotechnology enterprises. Here they will not only learn new techniques in their particular area of interest, but they will begin to appreciate the breadth of employment opportunities available to them outside of academia, once they have completed their education. The fact that this proposed course which takes place in Spain offers the added bonus of broadening their world view, and helping them take their place as future world citizens.
Student comments provided by UNM Program Director include:
“My overall experience with OLESAY and the class itself was phenomenal. This program was the perfect combination of an educational and cultural experience”.
“The program provided above and beyond for me and I felt well taken care of.”
“It definitely made me confident about pursuing my biology degree as well as my economics degree”
“The program itself was wonderful; I had a tailored internship and was able to learn the science I wanted to learn.”
Participants grew as biologists and scientists; they acquired life skills and research skills, explored new career paths and learned to live in a completely new culture. They all embraced it and made the most of this opportunity.

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