Student Summer Internships 2021

By Amanda Cordle, August 2021

In addition to the many research projects that Furman students are engaged in on-campus each summer, many students do research or internships with other organizations.

Over summer 2021, a number of biology students had the opportunity to learn more about potential career options through organizations unaffiliated with Furman. To highlight the students’ hard work and the wide variety of interests among Furman biology students, we asked students to share some of their unique experiences.


Rising senior Rorie Vander Ploeg had the opportunity to study Alzheimer’s Disease with a team at Prisma Health.


My name is Rorie Vander Ploeg and I’m a rising senior majoring in Biology and Spanish. This summer I worked with Dr. John Absher, a neurologist at Prisma, to study the fundamentals of neuroscience, computer science, and data analysis. With my team, I designed a research project to identify the correlation between Alzheimer’s Disease and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia. Our goal was to further the understanding of some of the underlying causes and risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s.


A number of other students also gained experience in the medical world this summer. For instance, Carolyne Little interned with an Orthopedic pediatrician.


Since I am a rising junior and premed student, I interned this summer at the Orthopaedic Group in Mobile, Alabama with a pediatric specialist Dr. Adam Handwerger. I learned to evaluate patient intake and read various x-rays and MRI scans, as well as observe Dr. Handwerger’s orthopedic surgeries.


Rising senior Quinn Elliott also gained experience in the health care field through an internship at Greenville Memorial Children’s Hospital.


This summer I had the incredible opportunity to intern with the Child Life department at the Greenville Memorial Children’s hospital. As a part of this experience, I was able to work directly with the children, focusing on developmentally appropriate play and activities at the bedside. I was also fortunate enough to be able to shadow experienced Child Life specialists as they guided patients through hospital procedures. My experiences taught me not only about life as a Child Life specialist, but about the type of people and values I hope to one day find in my own work environment.


Katherine McCann, a rising junior, also learned a lot about the healthcare system through MedEx Academy.


Over the course of six weeks, I was immersed in the healthcare environment through conversations with healthcare professionals, a population health lecture series, integrated practice of medicine workshops, and clinical experiences. I greatly enjoyed seeing the variety in healthcare, learning about the barriers to healthcare that we have many opportunities to break down, and experiencing the connectedness of a healthcare team.


Katherine also had the opportunity to learn about botany at the Historic Johnson Farm over the summer.


I had the opportunity to work with the Historic Johnson Farm in Hendersonville to design educational programming centered around plant science! I developed several different garden spaces, including a hydroponic vegetable garden that professor emeritus, Dr. Joe Pollard, helped me design.


Just how Katherine’s interests are diverse, students majoring in Biology at Furman have a wide array of passions and goals. While this article highlights a lot of students that are interested in medicine, many Furman Students intern at or conduct research with organizations that are unaffiliated with the medical world.


For instance, Luke Garges worked at a veterinary hospital and got to learn more about animals and the world of animal medicine.


This summer I had the opportunity to intern at a local animal hospital where I was able to both observe the lifestyle and day-to-day adventures of a vet as well as perform many of the clinical actions associated with animal medicine. I also met many furry friends and expanded my horizons on the intricacies of the veterinary field.


Rising junior Austin Krigbaum also learned more about animals over the summer through his research with the Coastal Marine Education and Research Academy.


This summer I worked with the Coastal Marine Education and Research Academy in Clearwater, Florida to help monitor local shark and ray populations by catching, measuring, and tagging them. This monitoring is used to assess the health and makeup of local populations and has fishing sites located in State Park waters which the Parks use the data to better understand the impact the protected waters have on these local populations. Each weekday, three different boat teams would go out and set up long lines for 45 minutes at a time and tangle nets for 30 minutes at a time to catch sharks and rays. It was my first time doing any sort of fishing from a boat and the dynamic, synchronized work of the lines and nets really made me feel like a part of the team. It was an incredible experience that I hope to continue to help with each summer.


While these are just a sampling of the many opportunities that Furman Biology Students participated in during Summer 2021, these examples help to showcase the variety of interests among the department’s students.