Two students win competitive science research internships in Germany

Ben Kaiser '16 and Alyssa Romano '16 will conduct science research at German universities this summer.

Two Elon students have won highly competitive Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) internships to conduct science research at German universities this summer. Only 300 students from the United States, Canada and the UK are chosen each year.

Ben Kaiser ’16, a physics and mathematics major with minors in astronomy and German studies, will complete a 10-week internship at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics outside of Munich. He will assist a doctoral student researching galaxy cluster morphology—the shapes of galaxies and how they relate to other galaxies around them. Kaiser’s specific role will be to use image analysis software on galaxy images from the Chandra x-ray observatory and simulated data from an upcoming mission.

“It will support my honors thesis, which focuses on studying individual galaxy morphologies with visible light, ultra-violet, and infrared observations,” Kaiser says of the benefits of RISE. “Because it is a research experience, RISE will also help my graduate school applications. The international element of the project will be a valuable asset in my job search.”

Kaiser has taken multiple German courses at Elon, including a recent intermediate-level course on contemporary Germany.

Alyssa Romano ’16, a biochemistry major with a minor in German studies, will spend 11 weeks at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg, where she will work in the Organic Chemistry Institute. The research group she will join works on synthesizing new gold catalyst compounds and analyzing how efficiently they speed up specific chemical reactions.

This research is directly related to Romano’s ongoing Lumen project.

“After doing research at Elon through SURE and then studying abroad in Germany the following semester, I knew the next step was to combine research and German,” she says. “This experience will propel me forward as an applicant to medical schools and Ph.D. programs in Germany. I also hope to continue improving my fluency in German and learn what it is like to work in a laboratory in Germany.”

Romano studied German in high school and has taken multiple advanced-level German courses at Elon, including a seminar on post-war Germany and a course on Germany in the new millennium. She studied abroad in Heidelberg in fall 2015, an experience she describes as transformative. “I hope to inspire others to study abroad. It has really brought together my true passions and helped me figure out what I want to do in life,” she says.

RISE offers research internships in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. Undergraduates work with research groups at universities and research institutions in Germany for several months in the summer. Students are supported by stipends from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and host universities.