Internship Spotlight

Sarah Glavan

Intern at the Limnological Institute of Konstanz

Internships are a great opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to life in the “real world”. Here, Sarah Glavan, AUP’s Environmental Studies student, shares her experience as Research Assistant for the Limnological Institute of Konstanz. Juggling a variety of different tasks – from maintaining laboratory cultures to sampling, setting up experiments, writing reports, and recording data, Sarah realized she would like to build a career which would allow her to combine her fascination for science with her creativity.



Sarah Glavan

Junior, with a major in Environmental Studies and minor is Fashion Studies.


Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Salzburg, Austria and lived there all my life until, having graduating from high school in 2020, I took a gap year in Paris. I always dreamt about living in a big city. A train journey through Europe in the summer of 2019 (Interrail) made me particularly fall in love with Paris and the people I met there. Not having taken any French in high school, I decided to spend my gap year learning the language and working as an English-teaching babysitter in France. As of September 2021, I am studying at the American University of Paris.


Which company/organization are you currently interning with?

I interned for the Limnological Institute of Konstanz in Germany where I worked with the Aquatic Ecology and Evolution Research Group (AG Becks) on a long-term replicated experiment. Dr. Lutz Becks and Dr. Jelena Pantel have set up this experiment to study how resource competition impacts the ability of two freshwater crustacean species (Daphnia magna and Daphnia pulex) to evolve adaptations to environmental change.


Where is your internship taking place?

My internship took place in Konstanz, Germany.


When is your internship taking place?

Summer 2022


What is your job title?

Research Assistant


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

My main tasks during my internship were: the weekly sampling of the experiment, maintaining laboratory cultures of the crustaceans, and creating workflows and protocols for the imaging and scanning machines. I mainly worked with a scanner called Hydropotic ZooScan, which can create detailed scans of the small Daphnia.

On a typical day, I biked to the lab with my AUP colleagues who were also interning at the Limnological Institute. On certain mornings, we had to take samples from the 30 cattle tanks in which the Daphnia are exposed to different conditions. Afterwards, I run tests with the ZooScan to refine my protocol. Every day was different because we had a chance to participate in important training sessions for lab equipment. Some days, we had to feed the indoor Daphnia cultures. On the very hot days, we jumped in the lake Constance after work.


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

As it is my first time working in a laboratory, one of the biggest challenges was adapting to the fast pace environment, where detailed and complicated information was given verbally. For example, we had training sessions for the autoclave (a machine used to sterilize equipment), pipette training (yes, it is sort of complicated to pipette a tiny drop of 20 microliter), sampling training to avoid cross-contamination, training sessions for the zooplankton and phytoplankton scanning machines, a training session on how to feed Daphnia etc. I mastered the importance of taking good notes.


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

As many different people from different nationalities work at the lab, we mainly communicated in English. However, when only German speakers were present, we spoke German.


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

This internship is highly relevant to my future aspirations as I intend to find a work which allows me to combine my fascination for science with the creative aspect of my personality. Interning at a laboratory allowed me to get insights into the day-to-day work of scientists and gives me new ideas where my professional path could lead me to.


Anything else to share?

I would like to thank Dr. Jelena Pantel (former professor at AUP) for this amazing internship opportunity! I took a statistics class with her at AUP, and we talked about our fascination for daphnia or, in my case, tardigrades, after class. This is how I coincidentally found out about the internship opportunity at the University of Konstanz, Germany. The lesson I learned is not to be shy and share your interests because it can truly open some doors for you.