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JHU, Morgan State launch joint internship program

Science is about building bridges — bridges that connect different disciplines, ideas and, often most importantly, people.

Leaders of Johns Hopkins and Morgan State universities said that’s the motivation behind their new joint internship program, which was unveiled Friday and will send talented MSU students to work alongside top researchers in STEM labs nationwide and overseas.

The “Extreme Science Internships” program is funded with $500,000 over five years from the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute at the Whiting School of Engineering.

“The problems today are so complex that no single institution can go it alone,” MSU President David Wilson said Friday at a news conference announcing the program.

There are eight MSU undergraduates in the first cohort, who will complete eight- to 15-week internships starting this summer. They’ll work with researchers at HEMI and other universities to test how various materials react to extreme conditions, such as high-velocity impacts.

“It’s almost a one-in-a-million opportunity,” said Edward Constance, a 23-year-old mathematics major at Morgan State and one of two students who will intern at the California Institute of Technology.

“I’ll get to expand my background and experience in materials science, which is a breakthrough research area right now,” Constance said. “Caltech is one of the top research universities in the world, so in that type of environment I can network, collaborate with leading scientists and engineers. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it paves the way for grad school.”

The money contributed by Hopkins for this program comes from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, which established a coalition of institutions called the “Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance.”

Fourteen of those institutions, including Caltech and Hopkins, are participating in the Extreme Science Internships program and will be accepting MSU students.

Teressa Alexander, a senior physics major at Morgan, is the only student in the first cohort of interns who will be heading overseas, to Germany. Her internship is at the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, also called the Ernst-Mach-Institut.

“I’ve never been to Europe, so I’m excited to work with a different culture, and with great scientists,” said Alexander, a 28-year-old native of Trinidad and Tobago.

Additionally, three students will intern at Hopkins, one at Drexel University and one at the Southwest Research Institute in Texas.

All are undergraduates who excel in STEM disciplines at MSU. They’ll work on projects involving computational mechanics, high-energy density physics, molecular dynamics, computational sciences, multi-scale materials research and other specialties.

School officials said they would like to make these internships available to graduate students, as well. The funding also supports internships on the Morgan State campus for several students who are working toward external internships.