Success stories

The NCCR summer internship program helps boost students' careers. By providing hands-on experience in the lab, exposure to real-world challenges, and multiple opportunities to apply the knowledge in practical settings, the program encourages the development of skills, expands professional networks, and builds a good basis for future career success.

Read about the success stories of some of our past interns.

Isabelle Gray, 2023

Coming from Germany, enrolled in the Natural Sciences program at the University of Exeter at the moment, Isabelle joined Prof. Rüegg’s team in the 2023 edition of the program. She investigated new technologies for the detection of cancer-associated mRNA using signal amplification by exchange reaction. During the summer she was introduced to a variety of techniques, including cell culturing, RNA extraction, and data acquisition using Flow Cytometry and analysis using FlowJo.

She commented about how this internship influenced her interest in bio-inspired materials: “This internship has absolutely stimulated my interest in the field of "Bio-Inspired Materials. I've always known I wanted to do something medically relevant, and I’ve always been fascinated by the implementation of engineered materials in biomedical research. This experience highlighted this as my project took organic nanomaterial and engineered it to be used for medically relevant application." The insights and experiences she acquired during her internship are proving valuable as she progresses in her career with a focus on cell biology and material physics. “

Marcel Mordarski, 2021

In the 2021 edition of the summer internship programme, Marcel Mordarski — at the time a BSc Natural Sciences student at University College London — joined the research group of Prof. André Studart at ETH Zürich. During the internship, Marcel contributed to the development of a Hall sensor fitted with metal-particle-based hairs that effectively detected 3D stimuli. Not only was this device inspired by nature (it resembles how cats use bending of their whiskers to check if they can go through a slightly open door) but it could also substitute natural structures (e.g., the device can be used as an artificial skin for robots or medical applications).

Throughout the NCCR summer internship, Marcel gained valuable experience and skills pivotal for the progression of his career. "I had to learn to take ownership of the project," said Marcel, explaining that "some results were determined by a previous student who had started the project and moved to a different one." Holistic thinking and creativity were also crucial: "Would this new composition be stable? Produce sensitive detector? Make manufacturing easy? These questions seemed constraining but actually gave me the freedom to experiment. There was no manual on coming up with new designs and I could play in ETH Zürich labs to find the best solution," he continued, also thanking his supervisor, Dr Ahmet Faik Demirörs, for teaching him this approach. Marcel also stressed that he enjoyed developing a device with a potential business application and coming up with mathematical models to explain its functioning. "In my future projects, it gave me an advantage that I always tried to write equations to describe data patterns similarly to what I did during my Swiss internship." After the internship, Marcel continued his education at the University of Cambridge as a recipient of the prestigious Schiff Studentship from Cambridge Trust and obtained his MPhil in Micro- and Nanotechnology Enterprise with distinction. Currently, he is working at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, applying quantum algorithms to cybersecurity.

Molly Sun, 2019

Molly Sun, an alumna student from the 2019 internship edition, achieved the honor of winning the best oral presentation at an American Chemical Society meeting in the subsequent autumn. Molly presented the research on bio-inspired hydrogels developed in Prof. Esther Amstad’s laboratory at EPFL.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Molly is pursuing further studies as a graduate student at Northwestern University in the Dichtel research group. Her research focus is on the synthesis of reprocessable crosslinked materials and the NCCR summer internship played a pivotal role in shaping her educational journey by providing valuable experience.

Madeline Eiken, 2018

Madeline, then a BSc student at Santa Clara University, joined Prof. Steiner’s research group in the summer of 2018. During her stay, she utilized 3D-printed microfluidics systems to synthesize double emulsions with easily modifiable and processable properties. Following her internship, Madeline successfully earned her BSc in biomedical/medical engineering. 

The knowledge she acquired through the internship, coupled with the exposure to various instruments and techniques, such as transmission electron microscopy, rheology, and atomic force microscopy during the NCCR summer internship, significantly contributed to her career trajectory. She continued working as research assistant at Santa Clara University, followed by an industry position as a cell research associate, and she is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Michigan as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

Amber Barron, 2017

Amber, a BSc student of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Utah at the time, joined Prof. Weder’s group Fribourg during the summer of 2016. Under the supervision of Laura Neumann, Amber gained valuable experience in the self-assembly of supramolecular polymers and investigated their different mechanical properties and microstructures for rupture healing polymers and white light emitting materials. Her research was awarded the Best Poster prize of this summer’s internship edition, and she co-authored a paper published in Macromolecules, stemming from this internship. 

Following the internship, she continued her studies while also engaging in additional internships, both within the university and corporate environments.  “The NCCR summer internship provided me with valuable skills in test design, polymer synthesis, and interpreting results from advanced characterization techniques. This experience directly contributed to my acceptance into a subsequent internship and solidified my confidence in pursuing a Master’s degree”, concludes Amber, at present employed as a Corporate R&D Senior Scientist in a company, investigating and developing sustainable materials for packaging.