Internship Spotlight

Alayna Amrein

Intern at The Limnology Lab at the University of Konstanz, Germany

Internships are a great opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to life in the “real world.” Here, History, Law, and Society and Environmental Studies double major Alayna Amrein tells us all about her summer internship at the University of Konstanz limnology lab in Germany. She learned the protocol necessary to conduct laboratory experiments, and discovered a passion for science and developed a renewed respect for the scientific method along the way. 

Tell us a little bit about your background? 

I am from Oregon, USA, but I did a foreign exchange when I was 16 where I lived in Le Mans, France for a year with French host families. That was the first time I had ever left the US! 

Which company/organization are you currently interning with? 

The Limnology Lab at the University of Konstanz. 

Where is your internship taking place? 

Konstanz, Germany 

What is your job title?   

Research Intern 

What types of responsibilities and/or tasks do you have in your internship? What's a typical day for you like? 

The internship involved raising hundreds of lineages of Daphnia (a type of zooplankton) from eggs to adulthood in order to set up a five-year experiment.  I was also responsible for data collection (on the daphnia), setting up the microcosm for the experiment, and sterilizing the lab/equipment/project space and autoclaving.  


What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve experienced during your internship? 

I had zero background in science a part from the few required lab courses that I had taken in high school and Uni. I didn't even know what ethanol was or what it was used for (it’s used to disinfect surfaces and equipment)! I had to learn how to navigate the lab (and the formality of a lab) for the first time in my life, but it was so worth it.  

An additional struggle I faced was the language barrier. All of our lab-mates spoke German or were German natives, and every once in a while we ran into a communication issue because we couldn't fully express a thought. It all worked out, but it was just a little bump in the road! 


What language(s) are you speaking/using in your internship?  


Tells us about your future goals/aspirations. Is this internship relevant? Do you think it will help you along the way?  

This internship was 100% the foundation of me re-envisioning my professional future. I did not realize how much I enjoyed the sciences and this internship brought out this passion in me. But more importantly, it reminded me that I am someone who likes to understand how things function and in order to understand how things function (especially since I would like to go into sustainable agriculture), it is essential to understand things from a scientific perspective.  

This internship also taught me how to diligently collect data and take notes. We had to keep track of hundreds, even thousands of daphnia and their different lineages. It required a ton of organizational skills.