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Campus Currents

May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2


PRIME Opportunity

There’s a new trend in programs abroad at UCSD. “More and more students, in the sciences and engineering in particular, are asking about internships related to their major or their field,” says Jim Galvin, director of Opportunities Abroad and Global Seminars. And you’d be hard pressed to find a summer internship more exciting than Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences program, also known as PRIME.

This year, a record 33 students embarked on this nine-week summer program. Undergraduates work with mentors as full-time researchers in one of 13 host institutions in Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand or Taiwan. Students in the six-year-old program are completely funded by the National Science Foundation—everything from airfare to living expenses.

The students are expected to work for 35-40 hours a week, researching in a variety of scientific disciplines. “Work is very serious,” says Jade Kwan, Sixth ’11, who is doing research on 3D computer models in Tokyo, Japan. Their task is difficult, says co-founder of PRIME Gabriele Wienhausen, associate dean of education (Biology), particularly in countries where undergraduates are typically not part of the research process. “Our students become something like pioneers when they go to new places and demonstrate what undergraduates can actually do.”  And there’s plenty to learn about culture both inside and outside the labs. “Even though the international language of ­science and engineering is English, the cultural differences are profound,” says Galvin. Students are busy picking up ­languages, embarking on gastronomical adventures, and exploring.

“I am delighted to discover that I am able to communicate not only in English, but also in Mandarin and Taiwanese in Penang,” says Bioengineering major Jessica Hsieh, Revelle ’11, of her experiences in Malaysia.

Other students are equally positive. “Every afternoon, we eat lunch while looking at grazing water buffalos,” says Michael Nekrasov, Muir ’10, who is contributing to the study of coral reefs in Taiwan. “In the evening, after finishing up at the lab, we often watch the sun set over the water from the roof.”

—Amanda Ripley, Muir ’09




This Week @UCSD

And you’d be hard pressed to find a summer internship more exciting than Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences program, also known as PRIME.