A group photo of 28 undergraduate interns during orientation outside of BTI, with trees in the background.

BTI’s 2021 undergraduate interns have traveled from universities all over the U.S.

On June 1, Boyce Thompson Institute welcomed 28 of the country’s brightest undergraduate students from universities around the country to experience the life of a researcher for 10 weeks. Seven more interns from local area high schools will join the Institute for six weeks beginning June 28.

BTI’s Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) focuses on training and inspiring the next generation of scientists to help feed a growing population, while protecting the environment and enhancing human health. The PGRP is now in its 21st year, and the 20th year in person after the 2020 program shifted to the virtual world because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the summer, students will gain valuable research skills in BTI and Cornell University labs, attend seminars and workshops to learn from leaders in plant science research, bioinformatics, science communications and technology transfer.

Because collaboration is a key aspect of modern science, every intern will be partnered with a mentor in their respective research lab. Together, each mentor will lead the mentee in creating an independent project that best utilizes the student’s curiosity and drive while also contributing to the lab’s research goals. This project will be each intern’s focus during the program, culminating with a poster or a presentation at a scientific symposium.

For many of the students, this is their first immersive research experience outside their university. Learning the fundamentals of lab life from their mentors and developing their professional networks will be a crucial experience to kickstart their research careers.

When interns aren’t working on their projects, they will attend weekly seminars by BTI and Cornell faculty, participate in a five-week Bioinformatics course, and engage with faculty, graduate students, and communication and scientific professionals.

The summer internship program will culminate in the annual George and Helen Kohut Summer Research Symposium on Thursday, August 5, from 9am-4:30 pm at BTI. The symposium will be livestreamed for the public.

This year’s internship program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Carolyn W. Sampson, the Ithaca Garden Club, the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County, Rheonix Inc., Yunis Realty, the John Ben Snow Foundation, the Emerson Foundation, the Triad Foundation the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, the United States Department of Agriculture, and many other generous individuals.

Stay tuned to our website and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for more updates throughout the summer!


Interns: Who They Are

BTI is proud to welcome the following undergraduate and high school interns:


Undergraduate Students

Name Home Institution Lab
Eddie Almanze Cornell University Margaret Frank
Holly Carter Centenary College of Louisiana Andrew Nelson
Jesse Derby Cornell University Anurag Agrawal
Rose Deshler Centenary College of Louisiana Andrew Nelson
Catie Eisenhut Penn State University Michelle Heck
Mohamed Elgallad Hunter College Lukas Mueller
Elijah Gallimore-Repole Cornell University Georg Jander
Anisabel Guzman California State University, Fresno Jim Giovannoni
Michelle Hassan Cornell University Scott McArt
Diego Hernandez Cornell University Margaret Frank
Olga Khmelnitsky Cornell University Fay-Wei Li
Isa Johnson Ohio Wesleyan University Magda Julkowska
Katherine Koning Calvin University Miguel Pineros
Tim Kosfeld Saint Louis University Jim Giovannoni
Giovanna Lemgruber Viol Cornell University Jennifer Thaler
Linda Li Cornell University Eric Richards
Alicia McElwee College of Wooster Maria Harrison
Cathy Mercado University of Texas at Austin Ola Skirycz
Sadhvi Mohankumar The College of New Jersey Georg Jander
Tyseen Murad Cornell University Clare Casteel
Erin NewRingeisen St. Olaf College David Stern
Ryan Preble Cornell University Adrienne Roeder
Inti Quinchiguango SUNY ESF Susan Strickler
Nikita Sajai Cornell University Wojtek Pawlowski
Emily Sander Centenary College of Louisiana Andrew Nelson
Evan Schnell Cornell University Jian Hua
Ana Suppé Cornell University Jennifer Thaler
Mikayla Zarr Cornell University Scott McArt


High School Students

A group photo of 7 high school interns during orientation outside in front of BTI.


Name High School Lab
Ana Duke Cardenas Ithaca High School Aleksandra Skirycz
Kieran Lucio-Belbase Ithaca High School Georg Jander
Sophie Mertha Ithaca High School Jim Giovannoni
Zoe James Ithaca High School Magda Julkowska
Albert Sun Ithaca High School Lukas Mueller
Lukas Jander Ithaca High School Zhangjun Fei
Tony Mao Ithaca High School Suzy Strickler