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The NIH Summer Internship Program is fully virtual this year. What does that mean for our NICHD trainees? It means our summer interns are going to receive top-notch mentorship, research training, and career development experiences throughout the summer—without having to deal with metro area traffic!

Over the past year, many NICHD trainees have worked through a completely virtual experience. To welcome our incoming summer interns, we asked the students from our NICHD-Howard University partnership to talk about their virtual experiences so far. Check out their words of advice and inspirational messages below!


Morgan Ford

Morgan Ford

My best piece of advice about virtual training:

Working with Dr. Ajay Chitnis at the NIH was an incredible experience. Given the success of our relationship for the past year, I can confidently provide insight into how our virtual training experience worked out so well.

This was a flawless experience for the two of us because of our speedy email responses and communication skills. During a time when in-person meeting is not possible, it is important to be open and honest with one's mentor/mentee. Dr. Chitnis and I exchanged emails and phone numbers at the beginning of the sessions and have been very communicative about availability since. Being that we had ample access to reach out to each other, Dr. Chitnis also performed weekly check-ins to see how I was progressing with both enjoying and understanding the topic. While an in-person mentor-mentee experience would have been great, Dr. Chitnis made the process better than I ever imagined.

—Morgan Ford, Rising Junior, Biology/Criminology Double Major at Howard University




Ayanfeoluwa Kolawole

Ayanfeoluwa Kolawole

An impactful moment from my virtual training experience:

The transition to the virtual experience can be very stressful or very rewarding. My experience with Dr. Henry Levin has been the latter. Since January 2021, I have had the opportunity to be mentored by Dr. Levin in his NICHD laboratory, which focuses on the biology of transposable elements.

The only thing I knew about transposable elements was that they are mobile DNA. Initially, having to learn more about them and their potential impact in resolving recombination intermediates virtually seemed like a stretched goal However, my experience with Dr. Levin has done more than achieve this goal by also helping me grow as a person.

One of many experiences that had this impact on me was in one of our Zoom meetings. On that particular Monday, I was fed up with trying to understand the concept behind transposition and homologous recombination assays. To add to my stress, we were having Internet connection issues. Dr. Levin noticed and asked me to do the weirdest thing I had ever done. He told me to turn off my microphone and leave the video on. He then gave me a phone number to call and stayed on the call with me explaining the concept until I understood it and could confidently explain it to him. And I finally understood it!

That one experience not only assured me that Dr. Levin is interested in my growth as a researcher, but it also revealed his selfless trait as an individual, which I strive to embody.

—Ayanfeoluwa Kolawole, Rising Junior, Biology Major at Howard University (Premed)




Alexa Moore

Alexa Moore

My best piece of advice about virtual training:

My best piece of advice with learning virtually this past semester is to be comfortable with unpredictability. As I am a very detail-oriented and organized person, I often have my days planned down to the hour: it gives me a sense of comfort and allows me to maximize my efficiency. However, learning virtually this semester has forced me to adapt from my “normal” and be comfortable with the unknown—a lesson that is not just applicable to the online learning setting but also life in general.

With online learning, many factors are added in: possible technical difficulties, schedule delays, and limited accessibility to certain people. Many times this semester, these factors played a part in my learning, which I am grateful for. With this, I have had the opportunity to attend and participate in some important meetings, be extended special internship opportunities, and meet some exceptional people.

—Alexa Moore, Rising Junior, Honors Biology Major at Howard University



Summer Internship Program Links to Like!

Check out these Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) resources for NIH summer interns: