It has become an annual tradition that is eagerly anticipated at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. Every August, the Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) concludes with a showcase of the interns’ research through a symposium format in Marshfield Medical Center’s Froehlke Auditorium. This year’s symposium, held on August 9, marked an end to an eventful summer for 11 interns.

“The symposium is always the highlight of my summer. It’s a chance for all of us to celebrate their [the interns] success and academic growth,” said Huong McLean, Ph.D., program director. “There was definitely some great research that was completed in this class of interns.” 

The summer internship provides an experience tailored to each student’s skill level and is related to ongoing research within Marshfield Clinic Health System. The program enables students to put their education into practice as they work side-by-side with scientists and clinician-researchers who are experts in their fields.

Research Institute executive director Amit Acharya, B.D.S., Ph.D., shared how in his introductory meeting with the students earlier this summer, he was struck by the diversity of career paths each of them had in mind, and yet “they all felt strongly” about research. “Research had a big role to play in how they viewed the trajectory of their career,” he said.

By pairing students with mentors working on active studies, the students have the opportunity to conduct research with a potential for meaningful impact on patient care delivery across the Health System. Study results presented at this year’s symposium focused on surgical outcomes, oral health, agricultural health and safety, population health, computational and biomedical informatics, and precision medicine.

"I was surprised at how much interaction I had with the researchers in my department. Everyone was approachable, and I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts from the beginning. MCRI's reputation is certainly deserved, and I doubt I would have received mentorship of this quality at other institutions," wrote one intern in their SRIP program evaluation.

In addition to expanding their research portfolios and making professional connections, the interns made lasting connections with each other. A sense of camaraderie was apparent from the collection of photos shared during the symposium’s break periods. Spending time together in their off-hours, the cohort experienced all of what Marshfield and Wisconsin has to offer by way of local events, day trips and even camping in Wisconsin Dells one weekend.

“It’s always remarkable to see each summer how what starts out as a group of strangers – many not even from the Wisconsin area – bonds quickly and results in long-term friendships. I heard some of the interns this year are already planning a reunion for next summer,” said Patti Baer, SRIP administrator.

Thanks to the generosity of many community partners, System employees, foundations, businesses and a major sponsorship by The Boldt Company, the internship program is supported entirely through philanthropy. The Research Institute is grateful these supporters understand the importance of preparing the next generation of researchers and continue to assist in making the program possible.

Since its inception in 1974, the program has mentored more than 260 interns as part of the Research Institute’s mission to provide career development opportunities for those interested in research. Each fall, more than 80 applications are received from undergraduate and graduate students for these highly competitive placements. The application period for summer 2019 will begin this November. Information about the application process and abstracts of the research completed can be found on the SRIP webpage.