Biotechnology Master’s Students Showcase Their Internship Research

By Dylan Hernandez
M.S. Biotechnology ’18

Over a dozen data-packed research posters coated the halls of the ground level of the pre-clinical sciences building sandwiched underground between the Medical-Dental Building and the Basic Science Building this Tuesday in the sixteenth tri-annual M.S. Biotechnology internship poster presentation. M.S. Biotechnology students in their final semester of the program completed an internship within government, private industry or at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) itself, and presented their project-based research to students, judges and faculty. 

Capstone Internship

This semester-long internship and resulting poster presentation is often seen as one of the capstones of the program often requiring a combination of both the student’s scientific and business acumen to produce thoughtful research.

Each student presents his or her research to two judges for approximately 20 minutes each. Between the two judges, students are scored based on quality of research content, poster, and level of understanding of their topic.

“Understanding is very important, it sets aside the good presenters from the great”

Dr. You-Shin Chen
Instructor, Biotechnology Program

“Understanding is very important, it sets aside the good presenters from the great,” said Dr. You-Shin Chen, an instructor in the Biotechnology program who is in her fifth year judging the event, “being able to explain your project to someone outside of the field of the research, like a business project explained to a judge who is a scientist, is a very good skill to have.”

Each student had one to two mentors during internships, and many of those mentors made the journey to GUMC to either aid in judging presenters or support their intern.

Reflections from Mentors

Brett Steele, chief financial officer and partner of EAS Consulting Group, LLC, is a mentor to Rahul Vaknalli, whose project was titled Impact of FSMA on the Human and Economic Burden of Food Borne Illnesses in the U.S.A. EAS Consulting Group, LLC specializes in consulting with FDA regulated industries to aid them in their compliance with the FDA.

“This [internship] program provides a basic understanding of a business operation,” said Steele, speaking of the value M.S. Biotechnology interns gain from being at his company.

Steele went on to explain that understanding their business operation includes multiple facets, such as business, science, and technology, which combine to create a well-rounded experience for the students.

“We love the enthusiasm and creativity the students bring”

Anna Amar
Senior Intellectual Property Advisor, National Cancer Institute

“We love the enthusiasm and creativity the students bring,” said Anna Amar, Senior Intellectual Property Advisor at the National Cancer Institute and mentor to M.S. Biotechnology student presenter Monika Mahajani, “they bring different skillsets, new ideas, and we appreciate the assistance they are able to provide.”

A Biotechnology Student’s Perspective

Eden Chane felt confident about her level of preparedness for today’s presentations despite challenges she encountered in her time at the Food and Drug Administration Division of Applied Regulatory and Science working towards her project, Identifying Resistance Enabling Mutation in vivo Fosfomycin-Resistant Bacteria Using Next Generation Sequencing.

“Being in a government-regulated position, I wasn’t always allowed to perform every hands-on experiment I needed to for my project,” said Chane.

“My solution to this was to get data from other professionals I worked with and get assistance with my experiments, but it gave me a data collection challenge I had to overcome,” said Chane, “I’m really confident [in my research], though, and I had a good experience at the FDA.”


Above all, as explained by Vasna Nontanovan, the internship course director as well as the associate director of the program, connecting students with mentors and other professionals to expand their network is perhaps the single most significant beneficial outcome of the capstone internship.

Nontanovan concluded her remarks on the poster presentations by saying how gratifying it is to hear positive comments from the mentors, which happens often. “It’s nice to hear about how prepared the students are and how they perform so well,” she said, “for them to bring a project to completion and have their mentor be happy with [his or her] experience with the student is very satisfying.”