It was a difficult task, narrowing down the pool of highly qualified BioTrain applicants. But this year’s BioTrain interns are proving day after day that they earned their spots.

Adam Hott, coordinator of educational outreach, oversees the popular internship program. BioTrain kicked off June 6 and the interns have been running hard ever since. Some are working in nonprofit research labs; others in associate companies.

"They are doing great," said Hott. "We have a talented and ambitious group of students and it is so much fun to watch them learn and grow, which they started doing early in the summer."

Sara Grace Hastings is an upcoming junior at Mississippi State University. The Biomedical Engineering major is spending the summer as a data analyst with Conversant Bio.

"My experience has been very educational so far," Hastings said. "First was Biotech Bootcamp and we spent the whole first week learning what it takes to work in this scientific field, including conducting experiments, analyzing data and reading scientific papers. At Conversant, I analyze and verify data and annotate specimens so everyday I learn something new about diseases, how they are treated and how the diagnostic process works."

Another 2011 BioTrain intern is Christopher Johnston, who is preparing for his junior year at UAB where he majors in neuroscience. Johnston is working in Dr. Devin Absher’s lab on the GOLDN project, which focuses on epigenetic responses to high consumption of lipids.

"This area of research fits into my career plan because I would like to study the genetic causes of diseases and genetic variations among groups of people," Johnston said.

The consensus among the interns appears to be gratitude and excitement. They say they are fortunate to have this opportunity in their own hometown. After all, HudsonAlpha is in many respects an aspiring scientist’s dream come true.

"I am working with some of the most intelligent, caring people I have ever met," said Chelsea Berra, an Auburn biomedical sciences major. "They truly hold the exemplary reputation that HudsonAlpha promotes to a standard in the lab. I have learned so much and I come to work each day excited and with more questions."

This summer’s BioTrain program wraps up with a poster event scheduled to be held on Friday, July 29.