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Intern Class of 2007
Recently, CIS caught up with Meghan Dorn, one of our summer interns back in 2007. She reminisced about her internship experience and updated us on what she's up to now.
Briefly describe what your research project involved.
My research project involved getting data from the Spitzer space telescope and learning how to program so as to extract useful/meaningful information from the images. A few of those analyses include fitting spectra and making surface brightness profiles.
What was your favorite experience during the internship?
I obviously had a good experience as an intern, because I stayed at RIT for another four years after it. I liked the exposure to all aspects of imaging and what turned me on was that there were many new things to learn and explore. The internship was just the tip of the iceberg.
How did the internship influence or change you?
I decided that I liked astronomy beyond 'pretty pictures.' That helped lead me toward other related research fields (optics), and now I am doing applied astronomy by testing long wave IR detectors for a space mission called NEOCam (near earth object camera).
What are you up to now, and what are your future plans?
I am pursuing my masters degree at UR in optics to prepare me for working in industry. I would like to stay close to the semiconductor field. There is no specific training for detector development, but it is related to engineering/optics/physics. Therefore, there are always positions available for people who are trained to take data and analyze data, as it can be very tricky to extract meaningful characteristics of a detector, especially when you are dealing with more 'exotic' detector types like HgCdTe.
Would you recommend this experience to others?
I had a great experience as an intern in CIS. It was appealing to me to get paid to do something challenging. I guess it's kind of nerdy to admit that I always wanted to keep doing something academic over the summer, but it is a great idea for any high school student that shows potential. Studies show that kids who are enrolled in an academic program for a portion of the summer retain like a billion times more of what they learned the previous year. Not only did I get to learn about astronomy and other areas of imaging science, it was an experience in working in a more formal/informal environment and having responsibilities/deadlines. The most rewarding part of being an intern, and in my opinion something extremely valuable, was learning to work with others as a group of individual contributions. This is something I continue to learn/work on. Now that I work with detectors, we heavily rely on each person being expert at certain things.
Meghan graduated from Rush Henrietta Senior High School in 2008, after which she received a BS in Imaging Science from RIT. She is currently a Masters student at the University of Rochester Institute of Optics.