Summer Internships 2015

Sun-soaked postcards from Bryn Mawr students

A Postcard From: Caroline Clark ’16

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meName: Caroline Clark

Class Year: 2016

Internship Placement: I’m interning at The Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies at The Field Museum. As a collections intern I’m working to improve the center’s digital database, as well as assisting postdoctoral student Surya Rout and Professor Philipp Heck with their research.

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going!

The Field Museum’s Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies is home to one of the largest meteorite collections in the world. The collection boasts 1,479 distinct meteorites with over 10,000 specimens. This summer I was lucky enough to work with this wonderful collection. There were two projects that I participated in throughout the summer. Firstly, I helped The Center continue to digitize the meteorite collection. The Center encourages research; in order to open the collection to researchers worldwide, a public online meteorite database was established. This process began in the summer of 2013. The database, which will tentatively go online next summer, includes information about each specimen’s weight, classification, location, and photograph. Currently, we are focused on rephotographing specimens whose database image is poor. Additionally, I’m assisting Dr. Surya Rout, a postdoctoral student at the museum and Dr. Philipp Heck, associate curator and head of the Pritzker Center. This research concerns the characteristics of iron meteorites that cooled quickly at very low temperatures. I created several polished thick sections for this project. These sections will be studied using a scanning and transmission electron microscope. In order to create a thick section, I cut about a 2 g piece of a given iron meteorite using the center’s Isomet Low Speed Saw. Then I would create the thick section by placing the cut piece in a mold and covering it with epoxy. After baking the epoxy, I polished the sections using grit paper. Finally, I carbon coated the sections using the Denton Desk carbon evaporation coater. Thus the thick section was ready for analysis. My work at the museum added to my lab skills, as well as broadened my knowledge of meteorites.

This is an polished section I created for the Carbo iron meteorite.

This is a polished section I created for the Carbo iron meteorite.

How did I find my internship?

This is the second summer that I’ve interned for The Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies. When looking for geology internships, for the summer of 2013, I began by looking at research institutions. At that point in my academic career I was hoping to explore geology careers in academia. The Field Museum is one of the few remaining museums that employs Ph.D.s’ to actively research. I missed the deadline to apply for an REU program with the museum. However, I emailed Jim Holstein, the collection manager for the museum’s meteorite collection, and asked about summer internship opportunities. He was willing to take me on as an intern with the collection. This summer I contacted Mr. Holstein regarding summer internships and I was again able to fill the intern position.

Why I applied to my internship?

The first time I applied to my internship in 2013, I hoped to experience what an academic career in geology would be like in comparison to an applied geology career. Additionally, I was looking to experience different specializations within the geologic field. While taking a low temperature geochemistry course last spring, I realized that geochemistry is something I want to pursue in the future. Meteoritic studies rely heavily on geochemistry work therefore I again applied to The Robert A. Pritzker Center for Meteoritics and Polar Studies internship.

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