DSSI: A Unique Summer Research Opportunity

September 9, 2017

There’s nothing quite like summer in the lab, and Drew’s Summer Science Institute (DSSI) is precisely that. Working 9-5 in Drew’s laboratories for two months allows students to have a hands-on experience with industry-level research. Under the supervision of professors and RISE fellows alike, students participating in the institute have the opportunity to get a feel for professional research. Not only does the program allow students to collaborate on a research project in a field of their choice, but it provides undergraduates with the necessary tools to experiment with both potent chemicals and full-time lab work. Being a legitimate laboratory job, DSSI can be extremely beneficial in helping students realize if working in the lab everyday is something that they could see themselves doing for a career. The program grants students the supervision needed to develop a full-fledged research project, while simultaneously allowing them the never-before-had freedom of working independently in the lab.


Mason Scher (’20) worked in Dr. Hinrichs’ lab this past summer and said that having the opportunity to participate in DSSI was “an incredibly rewarding experience.” Scher continued, saying that her time spent in the lab as well as on her project allowed her to gain independence and, in turn, confidence. Marina Hahn (’20), working in Dr. Barker’s lab, said of her summer: “I loved being in the lab all day. I got to establish valuable connections with both my peers and professors. DSSI was a unique and valuable opportunity for me because it allowed me to experience biology outside of a classroom setting and solidified my love for science.”


Working in RISE Fellow Dr. Bayne’s lab over the summer, my regard for and value of, DSSI echoes the experiences and sentiments  of Scher and Hahn. Not only did I find myself quickly learning project-specific tips and tricks, but I was able to figure out how to thoughtfully and effectively work--and live--on my own. Of course, college generally allows you to explore your life in those aspects, but to me, and to my fellow student researchers, the DSSI experience was so much more than the regular college experience. Especially as a first-year student, this opportunity is “the chance of a lifetime,” as Hahn put it. And she is right: starting your career exploration early is both sensible, fun, and incredibly easy to accomplish at Drew in particular. All you really need is time, curiosity, and the motivation to communicate your ideas to your professors and your peers. Hahn continued: “Not many universities allow freshmen to conduct their own experiments for pay. I plan on doing DSSI as long as I am enrolled at Drew.” Scher, Hahn, and myself have all continued our summer work into the semester, working weekly in our respective labs, and projecting our skills gained over the summer onto both our school work and everyday lives.


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