Microbiology Student Selected for Pasteur Foundation Internship
Fourth-year microbiology major Adam Bercz knows the power of initiative. It led him to conduct research in Ohio State’s veterinary bioscience lab, become a peer mentor and take on the role of an organic-chemistry teaching assistant. His drive and passion for the sciences garnered him one of only five internship spots at the prestigious Pasteur Foundation, in Paris. The Pasteur Foundation Summer Internship Program provides U.S. undergraduates, entering their senior year, with the rare opportunity to work on supervised research projects at the Institut Pasteur.
“One of my primary goals in coming to Ohio State was to get involved in a research lab as an undergraduate,” Bercz said. “I thought coming to Ohio State would give me that opportunity, and it has … and it led me to Paris."
Over the course of 10 weeks, Bercz lived in Paris and worked at the institute, alongside a diverse team of professionals. His work focused on how Shigella bacterium, which causes intestinal disease, invades intestinal cells and manipulates their homeostasis – the cell’s self-regulating process of maintaining stability. His work culminated in a poster presentation explaining his research to his lab mates and fellow interns.
Bercz said that his work at the Institut Pasteur was aligned with his interest in emerging, infectious diseases and his desire to improve the health and welfare of animals, which is what sparked his initial fascination with science.
“It's a public health issue,” said Bercz. “You have food-borne bacterium getting into human and animal bodies so public health is a big part of veterinary medicine. You want to prevent infection in the first place and not have to treat it, which is what my research focused on.”
In addition to the research component of his trip, Bercz learned to acclimate to a foreign setting. He joined the other interns in taking advantage of the Parisian culture — enjoying picnics in local parks, going swing-dancing and visiting the Eiffel Tower — as well as travelling with the group outside Paris, to Normandy, Champagne; and Brussels, Belgium.
“These experiences and the friendships I made along the way are what made the trip worthwhile,” said Bercz. “I really learned a lot about myself and the things I want to do in the future. I hope to go back to the Pasteur Institute one day because I enjoyed it so much.”
Bercz believes the most valuable skill gained through his internship experience was learning to have empathy and understanding for others, which will help him as a veterinarian.
Hannah Smith, fourth-year, journalism major