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street view from the Fairchild and Wilder buildings

I took the picture above on a beautiful day in October, having just interviewed for WISP (Women in Science Project) in Fairchild, the building for Earth Sciences and Environmental Studies. I thought the interview went rather well and was feeling satisfied. It turns out I was correct, and now I get to tell you about the coolest thing I will be doing for the remainder of my first year at Dartmouth: a paid, part-time research internship program for undergraduate women through WISP.

As a freshman with no clear idea about what I want to major in, I applied to WISP to see what it would be like to work as a scientist in a specific field (my interests lay around Earth Sciences, Computer Science, Physics, and Astronomy). I found it appealing that I would work under the guidance of a Dartmouth professor, a potential mentor for the rest of my college years.

My two first choices were (1) a project exploring the extent of liquid water of Mars through remote sensing technology and (2) a project engaging with Machine Learning with the purpose of understanding sequential learning. I was fortunate enough to have received an offer to work on the former alongside Marisa Palucis, professor in the Earth Science Department!

Here's how it happened:

To apply, I had to complete a short form about myself and my interests. Next, I read up on the posted internship programs and the faculty members and associates who were in charge. Out of a list of 30-40 projects, I chose seven and moved on to writing (rather lengthy) emails to the faculty members involved in order to arrange an interview, the next stage of the application process. Out of the seven projects of interest, I managed to interview for six. Through the interview, I got clearer pictures of what the projects were about, what faculty members were like, and whether or not I would like to be a part of their team. Following the interview stage, I narrowed down my options to five projects, all of which I entered into the WISP database. Professors have the same task, to shortlist students based on preference. After that, a computer does the matching, placing one or two students under the guidance of a faculty member.

Fairchild and Wilder buildings
Fairchild (left), housing the Earth Science Department I will be working in, and Wilder (right), housing the Physics&Astronomy Department

As I write this blog post I still cannot believe the fact that I, as a freshman student with no former research experience, am going to be a WISP intern! But should I be surprised? I am at Dartmouth, after all, and opportunities like this one are awaiting around the corner. What I have to do as a student is to open my eyes widely and seize the moment.

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