Internships and Careers
The interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience and its increasing relevance to all aspects of human endeavors encourages our majors to explore unprecedented opportunities for diverse careers and future professions. They take advantage of astonishing scope of internships that Chicago and its suburbs offer to experience practical connections between neuroscience and the breadth of humanities, arts, social sciences, law, and medicine.
Academic Year Internships
Neuroscience students pursue research and internship opportunities in various areas such as neural plasticity, human memory, applied cognitive psychology, evolution of animal behavior, neurodegenerative disease, cellular physiology, and the genetics of organ development. Neuroscience students frequently pursue study in Chicago or with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine. Students prepare for a wide-range of scientific professions through internships.
For natural science-oriented neuroscience academic year internships, please contact Dr. Lynn Westley (Biology Department).
For more general information about internships at Lake Forest College, please visit the Internships page.
LFC-RFUMS Summer Research Fellows Program
In 2009, Lake Forest College began a unique summer research training program for our science majors at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS), located just 10 minutes away from campus by car or train. Each summer, between 10-15 undergraduates (from first year to senior thesis students) conduct 10-12 weeks of paid research as LFC-RFUMS summer fellows.
To learn more about the LFC-RFUMS summer fellows program, click here.
Kayla Ahlstrand ’12
Neuroscience and Biology major
2012 Academic Year Internship
Current: DVM studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison (2014-present)
“During Fall 2012, I interned at Preiser Animal Hospital in Northbrook, IL. I had recently decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine but had little experience in the field. At Preiser, I observed veterinarians and technicians in exam rooms and in surgery, learned and performed a variety of tests and blood work, administered fluids, antibiotics and pain medications, and prepared vaccinations for the doctors. I also learned about common diseases, illnesses, and treatments for dogs and cats. The doctors and techs were wonderful and very willing to teach me anything and everything I wanted to know. After my internship, I applied to and accepted a job at Greenbay Animal Hospital in Wilmette, IL as a veterinary assistant. My internship definitely played a role in securing this job, as I was more comfortable talking to the staff at Greenbay and I had a “leg up” on vet terminology, tasks, etc. Interning at Preiser also solidified my desire to pursue a career in vet medicine, something I had contemplated for a long time.”
Kim Diah ’13
Neuroscience and Psychology major
2011-2012 Academic Year Internship
2012-13 LFC-RFUMS Summer Research Fellow
Past employment: Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute of Florida (2013-2015)
Present: PhD in Clinincal Neuropsychology, NOVA Southeastern University, FL
“With the goal of becoming a clinical neuropsychologist in mind I set out to gain experience in the field of mental illness, emotional disturbance and abnormal behavior. I wanted to see what clinical psychologists do and what the career was like. I participated in a semester long internship with an outpatient adolescence skills program at the VISTA medical center. It is a program for at-risk teens with behavioral problems; seeking to teach coping and survival skills in order to strengthen their abilities to manage emotional and behavioral difficulties in a supportive environment. While at this internship I was given the opportunity to lead group therapy sessions, observe and take group progress notes and learn about different issues such as confidentiality and ethics. I gained ‘real world’ skills and experiences that were a great addition to material I learned inside the classroom. This internship has also helped to confirm in my mind that this is the career path I want to pursue.”
Alexus Edmonds ’13
Psychology & African-American Studies minors
2012 Academic Year Internship
2012 LFC-RFUMS Summer Research Fellow
Current: Research Assistant, University of Illinois Chicago (2013-present); accepted to medical schools for fall 2017.
“My experience this semester as an intern in Dr. Wilson’s psychology lab at RFUMS was both challenging and exciting. Over the course of the semester I developed the hands on skills needed to properly examine relationships within clinical psychiatry. Dr. Wilson’s work looks at various relationships between risk factors (e.g. sexual and physical abuse) and its effects on mental illness (e.g. depression, anxiety) and sexual illness (e.g. HIV/AIDS). Throughout the semester Dr. Wilson allowed me to get a closer look into some of her previous work as well as extended an amazing privilege to be published as a third author in her upcoming paper entitled, “Does Psychopathology Mediate the Pathway from Childhood Violence Exposure to Sexual Risk in Low-Income, Urban African American Girls?”. “Along with working on the new paper with Dr. Wilson, I have also been giving the opportunity to continue working alongside Dr. Wilson this summer on a new project that has just been granted approval. This study focuses on dating violence in African American communities and its connection to riskier sexual practices. In this study, stress responses such as sweating will be monitored as neurological factors that may be triggered under certain environmental conditions. This summer I will be receiving training in both interviewing participants as well as analyzing the neurological samples. Overall I believe this internship has allowed me to apply knowledge obtained from my Neuroscience major and African American Studies minor and use the information in real life situations and research. I am eager to continue working with Dr. Wilson, this summer and next school year.”
Natalie Kukulka ’13
Neuroscience & Biology majors
Studio Art minor
2013 Academic Year Internship
Past: Research Technician, Northwestern Lurie Children’s Hospital (2013-2015)
Present: M.D. studies, University of Missouri (Columbia)
“I have always been fascinated with the human brain and the sophisticated mechanisms that consequently result in specific outputs directing our actions, which is why I decided to study and major in both neuroscience and biology. Throughout my four years at the college I gained valuable neuroscience knowledge in various classes, essential skills in laboratories and insight into countless modern research strategies, yet I was missing the most important perspective – the extend of an impact of a brain injury from a human patient’s standpoint. That is why I decided to intern at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, situated in downtown Chicago, where I became a part of a team of specialists in the brain injury medicine and rehabilitation program. During my internship I assisted physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologist, as well as aided nurses and physical technicians in any errands. Some of the more basic, yet extremely impactful tasks, were learning about and cleaning the equipment at the gym, as well as organizing various apparatus in a systematized manner. The responsibility of maintaining excellent conditions in the therapy gym allowed the specialists to focus on the patients and filling out summary reports, as opposed to dealing with the used materials. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to interact with patients, in between therapies, and offer them my company or appropriate entertainment to lighten their mood. Meanwhile, I was able to participate in various group therapies and private sessions where I learned about different strategies utilized for patient rehabilitation that incorporated the improvement of comprehension, speech, stamina, physical capabilities any various other factors appropriately individualized for each patient. Throughout my internship, I also witnessed an array of cases in patients of all ages, which taught me the unique nature of such an injury, as well as the process of recognizing patients’ specific needs, capabilities and potentials in order to establish appropriate goals. I am forever grateful the opportunity to intern at RIC because I gained a more advanced understanding of the consequences of different brain injuries, but also saw remarkable recoveries disputing previous doctor’s prognoses. I learned that brain injuries cannot be generalized because of their individual effects on different patients, as well as I witnessed that a great team of specialists can make an amazing difference in the lives of injured patients.”
Crystal Ramirez ’14
Neuroscience & Psychology majors
2012 Academic Year Internship
Present: Masters in Counseling Psychology, Chicago College of Professional Psychology
“During the Fall of 2012, I interned at The Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s which is located in downtown Chicago as a part of the “Loop” Program. I know I want to pursue a career that involves working with children and The Ronald McDonald House was the perfect place to gain that sort of experience since there are many children who stay at the house with their families. The purpose of The Ronald McDonald House is to provide a ‘home away from home’ for families who have children receiving treatment at the nearby hospital; this one in particular is associated with Lurie Children’s. While interning at The Ronald McDonald House I worked with the volunteer services so it allowed me to interact with many volunteers who came in to provide meals for the families as well as organize activities for them. As I helped organize these programs it allowed me to interact with the families and children and listen to their stories. Through this internship I gained a lot of experience working with the professionals who came in from different companies as well as learning how to interact with families who are in sensitive situations”
Megan Joy Escanilla ’14
2013 Academic Year Internship
Masters of Arts in Montessori Education, Xavier University
Current: Montessori Teacher, Chicago
“Job experience is a word that I have heard from many of my professors. It never occurred to me that as an undergraduate, I would have time to pursue opportunities like such. As a neuroscience major who is interested in becoming a physical therapist, it became apparent that I must not only excel in classes but also have hours of experience in a variety of settings. In order to accomplish this, I decided to finally talk to a couple of professors regarding any opportunities related to combining physical therapy, the joy that I have with working with kids, as well as the enjoyment I have in exercising and working out. My junior year, Prof. Dohrmann introduced me to an internship at Pathways Clinic which provides physical therapy to children and during the time I was there, I learned valuable lessons and gained enough experience to realize that this is the type of job I want to involve myself with. In looking to continue my experience, I talked with Prof. Westley and through her connections with Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, I completed an internship at the IBJI in Grayslake. The connections I made and the amount of hours being out in the real work world has taught me how important it is to not only be a studious and conscientious individual but also how to professionally interact with supervisors, colleagues, and patients. In both my internships, I was given as much work as possible; helping out the PT’s, the patients and their exercises, and working to maintain the daily functioning of the clinic. These experiences left me wanting to do much more during the time I spent at both internships. The advice I would pass on to future students is to make the most of your experience; realize that this is your internship and commit to it.”
Anhar Mohamed ’14
2013 Academic Year Internship at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
“My internship has been an invaluable experience. I feel I have grown immeasurably both professionally and personally. By being in a hospital environment and in constant contact with patients, therapists, doctors, nurses, and all other members of the health professions, I have had a chance to view healthcare from all ends of the spectrum. This allows me to gauge where my own personal interests and abilities fall and helps me align my career plans accordingly. I’ve also improved my interprofessional skills by interacting regularly with all aforementioned professionals. Additionally, one-on-one patient contact has really given me a sense of confidence and a feeling of being capable of interacting with patients of a wide range of ages and with a wide range of symptoms or disorders in a hospital setting. Because I am pre-med and intend to apply to medical school, I feel the skills I acquired during this internship are ones upon which I will continuously build as I continue my career. I do feel though that this experience is unique in that I was able to really hone my ability to communicate efficiently, respectfully, and comfortably with patients. I believe that will translate to a bedside manner in medicine that cannot be taught in medical school classes and am deeply grateful for an experience in which patient contact is the most important skill to learn. Additionally, by learning to work with an interprofessional team of healthcare professionals I feel confident that I will be more comfortable and more successful working in teams both in my professional career and beyond.”
Lani Leong ’14
Neuroscience and Biology major
2012 summer internship at Loyola
2013 fall internship at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Present: Masters in Biomedical Sciences, Midwestern University
“Before the end of my sophomore year, I accepted a Discover Pharmacology Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, IL. I worked in Dr. Karie Scrogin’s lab on a project studying sex differences in noradrenergic neuroplasticity after myocardial infarction using an animal model. I learned how to slice rat brains into sections that were each 40 microns thick, which was not an easy task. The brain tissue sections were extremely fragile, so it took a lot of time and practice to get good quality sections. My project also involved me optimizing the protocol I used for immunohistochemistry experiments and taking pictures using a fluorescent microscope. I enjoyed a great level of independence while working in the lab. At the same time, I knew that I could always ask Dr. Scrogin for guidance whenever I needed it. Dr. Scrogin was willing to work one-on-one with me too. My research fellowship was a valuable learning experience for me because it taught me how to think like a scientist when experiments do not always work the way you expect them to. Unlike the labs at school, where you are provided with written step-by-step instructions for every experiment in one convenient laboratory manual, at research labs it is your responsibility to figure out what to do. For example, I had to keep tweaking my immunohistochemistry protocol in order to get the best data. I used my problem-solving skills to troubleshoot, which meant first identifying the issue and then using a different method to redo the experiment.”