GWC Summer Research Intern Plans For the Future

By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

When she was in middle school, Briana Young was growing her own hydroponic garden in Ecotek Lab, a resarch lab in Detroit that focuses on providing academically gifted students with opportunities to participate in international science research projects. She grew rows of romaine lettuce to feed to her bunny. Now, years later, Young is plotting to start her own business in the food industry sometime in the future.

Young, a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in cultural and global studies with a minor in nutrition, is one of the George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program interns for the summer.

Young has had an interest in agriculture ever since eighth grade when she went to a hydroponics farm and shadowed the farmer. Her desire to grow a garden stemmed from that experience.

Young has had an internship every summer for the past three years. As a part of the summer internship program at Iowa State, Young is working on a research project dealing with water sampling.

“The time frame for farmers to get water samples tested is typically six hours but some people don’t have the resources to get it to a lab that quickly and have to ship it, which isn’t fast enough,” Young said. “We are trying to expand that time to 24 hours.”

The first few weeks of the program, Young spent a lot of time in the lab growing bacteria and learning protocols for her project with another intern and graduate students. Recently, they went on their first farm visits to collect samples.

“When we go, we call the farmer to see if they are available, then we take samples of the water, place them in a cooler, and get back to the lab quickly in order to test them,” Young said.

Other than research, the Iowa State summer internship program offers Young, along with 16 other interns, opportunities to grow professionally and personally. They have already visited the Omaha Zoo and the World Food Prize of Laureates. There are several trips, seminars and workshops scheduled throughout the summer.

Young is very ambitious about advancing her career. Her goal is to get a job in the food industry.

“It’s something I work on every single day,” Young said. “I’ve been doing a lot of networking. I will be attending the Institute of Food Technologists Conference in July.”

At the conference Young will be sharing her resume with potential employers and hoping to walk away with a job offer.

After working in the industry for a few years and obtaining a master’s degree, Young hopes to start a food safety business of her own.

“I want to create a product that can be sprayed on produce to hold back the bacteria, and then also offer workshops on food safety on how to handle things such as produce,” Young said.