Tag Archives: DOH

Meet Our Interns: Nhi N.

My Internship with the Washington Department of Health at Public Health Laboratories

By Nhi N.

This summer, I am doing my internship at the Washington Department of Health Public Health Laboratories (PHL) in Shoreline. I found out about this internship through my department’s career services, and I interviewed with the DOH twice before getting the offer for the position.  I will work as a Lab Assistant 1 in the Office of Environmental Laboratory Sciences (ELS). The Office of Environmental Laboratory Sciences is divided into two main sections: Environmental Microbiology and Environmental Chemistry and Radiation. The laboratory units in the ELS provide a wide variety of testing of environmental samples and clinical specimens and are certified by several federal programs that include the EPA, FDA, College of American Pathologists, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  

This office is comprised of six units, and for my internship, I will work in the Biotoxin, Shellfish Chemistry & Water Laboratory Units, but I will mainly be in the Shellfish Biotoxins program. My internship will revolve around the process of sample preparation and analysis of different types of shellfish sent to the laboratory from many different regions in Washington. I will help and learn from other chemists in my program while we test shellfish for the presence of three main naturally occur marine biotoxins: Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) from Domoic Acid, Diarrheic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) from Okadiac Acid, and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) from Saxitoxins. I will also work under the supervision of a chemist for the Shellfish Chemistry for Metals (Arsenic) project.

I am most excited about seeing how what I learned in school will be applied to a real work environment setting. I look forward to learning more about environmental sampling from this internship and exploring more about the public health side of this field. Even though I took a good number of classes at the UW that include lab work, I was still a little nervous about being in charge of a station in the lab. I will have to make sure that the all the procedures that I perform are precise and correct to ensure that the samples are prepared correctly for analysis. However, on the first day that I worked in the lab, everyone was really nice and supportive. After meeting and being trained by my colleagues, I am now more comfortable with the work that I do in the lab, and excited to learn more over the summer.


Meet Our Interns: Hayden K.

About My Internship at the DOH

By Hayden K.

This summer, I am going to be an intern at the WA Department of Health (DOH). I will work at the Public Health Laboratory in Shoreline, WA. At the lab, there are multiple departments such as microbiology, environmental, media prep, bio toxin, chemistry, hazardous waste management, newborn screening, epidemiology, and more. I will be assisting the Microbiology Food and Shellfish Laboratory.

I was on a search for a summer internship, and I thought this position was very interesting and would benefit me in the future since I want to pursue a career in the medical science field. I applied as instructed by emailing the supervisor my resume and cover letter and got an offer for an interview. I came for the interview and had the interview with the lab lead and supervisor. One week after the interview, I received an email from the supervisor that she would like to have a conversation with me on the phone. I talked to her on the phone, and she offered me the position.

The oyster sampling site that I visited to collect a sample.

During my internship, I will test oyster samples from throughout Washington for Vibrio parahaemolyticus. I will also assist the food lab by restocking items, preparing media and reagents, and entering data in the DOH database. Also, I will work on collecting environmental isolates of Vibrio parahaemolyticus from the positive oyster samples and run their DNA through PCR to find pathogenic strains. For the Vibrio parahaemolyticus testing, I will scrub and shuck oysters, process them through MPN dilutions, extract DNA through a Magna-pure machine, and enumerate by using real-time PCR.

I have many mentors who will train and help me throughout the internship such as the supervisor of microbiology laboratory, lab lead, and microbiologists. I will be mostly be mentored from the microbiologists at the lab, since we will work on the same tasks and they are the ones who will be in the laboratory at all times. They mentor me through step-by-step procedures on food testing, working with reagents and media, and getting familiar with the Public Health Laboratory and regular job tasks. The lab lead and supervisor will mentor me on some of the projects that I will be having later in the internship.

I am excited to gain hands-on experience on some of the machines that I learned about in my biology and chemistry courses. I will use the actual PCR machine to run samples from practical sampling sites. I will also get to see many different types of microbes and test food samples that are brought from an epidemiological investigation in the WA. I am also excited to see how my academic background as a public health student will be used practically at a public health agency.

Since I will be testing real food samples that will be used to protect the WA public health, I am a little nervous about making sure my work is accurate. The results from our tests will be sent to the FDA or whichever agency that is working on testing the food, and will be used to evaluate the amount of pathogenic bacteria.