Tag Archives: China

Bowen L.: About My Internship

About My Internship

By Bowen L.

Bowen measures exposure by bicycle in Chengdu.

As I mentioned in the last blog, my internship over the summer was a research project that mainly targets community-level and personal exposure to air and noise pollution in Chengdu, China in this summer. In this blog, I am going to describe my activities for this internship.

There were two primary studies in this project: the stationary community study and the mobile commute study. In the community study, we selected four sites within the inner ring and four sites on the outer ring of Chengdu city as our measurement sites. Based on our discussions and findings, people who live or spend a lot of time at these sites were susceptible to be exposed to heavy air and noise pollution because of either the heavy traffic, road construction, or the presence of other aerosol producers there. Also, on the roof of CDC office building, we set up a bulky community air monitor to collect long-time measurements.

In the mobile commute study, we had three pre-determined routes that represented high, medium, and low personal exposure to air and noise pollution. We made measurements while we traveled on these routes by different transportation means. We also had a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route added for investigating people’s exposure on the newly constructed transportation mode in this city. For both studies, we wanted to investigate the level of exposure by measuring the concentration of various aerosol components such as particular matter and black carbon. We also used other supplementary measurements, such as GPS and accelerator data, to help us plot a geographic exposure map.

My routine daily work comprised field work and office time. Each day I went to the field, traveled on the route, took measurements, and then returned to the office to meet and upload our findings to the database. We usually did the field work first in the morning, but later we recognized the need to expand the time range of measurements. We had flexible field work and office hours in a day. I had a lot of challenges during the field work. For many days, the weather was quite hot and sometimes there were storms. Our work sometimes would be questioned and we’d be stopped by police officers and even citizens concerned that we might interfere the traffic. Each day, there was a long distance to travel by foot, bike, and automobile. Even though my field work was strenuous, I felt a sense of achievement. I believed it was worthy because someday the measurements would potentially help people to choose the best route for their commute.

Bowen L.: How I Found My International Internship

How I Found My International Internship

By Bowen L.

For my internship, I worked in Chengdu China on a research project led by Professor Edmund Seto of our department at UW Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. We worked with people from Sichuan Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The project mainly aimed to investigate personal exposure to air and noise pollution in Chengdu city over this summer and to assess the effectiveness of both the conventional and novel measurement instruments. In this blog, I am going to share the story of how I got this internship.

Bowen measures exposure by bicycle in Chengdu.

It was not easy at first when I started to apply for internships. I sent application materials to many companies, but I received few responses from them. At that time my resume was very weak. I had little experience and did not have many skills in writing a resume. So I turned to Hayley Leventhal, our career counselor. I began to arrange meetings with Hayley, and we had many great discussions. She taught me a lot of writing skills such as what should be emphasized and omitted. Then I started to revise my resume over and over. I sent my edited versions to Hayley, and she would point out strengths and weaknesses. I learned new things each time from her. Later, I began to receive interview requests from some corporations. I believed I had improved. However, interview skills were another challenge for me. I was rejected sometimes because there was another candidate who did better in the interview session. There is a saying that interview is a skill that can not be learned from book but from experience. I did not doubt that and believed I would need more interview experience.

Fortunately, it was by chance I heard that Professor Seto would carry out a research project in my hometown Chengdu, China over this summer. I was very excited to hear about this news. I reached out to Professor Seto and expressed my passion about joining this project. We arranged to meet several days later. Before I went to the meeting, I prepared myself by going over background knowledge that I had learned in class about air and noise pollution. I also looked up information about current air quality in Chengdu.

In the meeting, I think I left a good first impression on Professor Seto. I showed confidence in my knowledge of the urban road and green design and I also demonstrated my proficiency in instrument operation. Professor Seto thought it would be very helpful to have me contribute to this project, so I was selected to be involved in the project right after the meeting.

Overall, my words for new applicants are: keep digging, the one that is right for you will come to you.