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As the world economic base shifts increasingly towards technology, student participation and achievement in science is becoming increasingly important. Students need to understand that early involvement in science can open gates into all domains of academia and employment. In turn, professors must provide quality education to prepare their students to live and work in a world transformed by technological growth, international competitiveness, economic globalization, and increasing demographic shifts. This research initiative focuses on recruiting and training high school students and college undergraduates through research internships, which will provide them one-on-one, intensive experiences. These laboratory internships will permit students to develop an understanding of science concepts and skills and will produce deeper, more personal relationships with practicing scientists who can serve as role models and mentors.

Through this project, efforts will focus on recruiting K-12 students from rural and urban areas in southwest Virginia while fostering undergraduate education. A second, and equally ambitious, goal of this initiative is to help resolve the scientific needs and technological challenges of our society and those in developing countries, specifically in Latin America. Here, the program focuses on two areas: K-12 education and graduate level training. In general, Latin American students are encouraged to enroll in short technical programs oriented towards the labor market. This propensity is partially explained by budget cuts in the public sector that resulted in restructuring scientific policies and increasing pressure on students to acquire more practical knowledge that will directly affect their occupational prospects. This approach, although needed in the short-term, compromises the competitiveness of each country’s future scientific program and leaves students and junior researchers unprepared to meet the needs of an evolving society and the demands of emerging technologies. The proposed research initiative aims to fulfill this gap by teaching and training high school and graduate students from both Virginia and Latin America in advanced technologies in molecular biology while fostering social interaction and promoting collaborations with international institutions.

High School Level Exchange Internships



Undergraduate Level Exchange Internships
International Graduate Level Exchange Internships
    • Virginia-US / Argentina
    • Virginia-US / United Kingdom
    • Virginia-US / Singapore (coming soon!)


Why go on exchange?

- learn more about yourself
- live in a different geographic setting
- experience a different college setting
- explore a particular academic interest
- consider future graduate and professional schools
- learn and appreciate new cultures
- form lasting friendships with students from other parts of the world


High School International Internship Exchange Program Virginia-US / Argentina
Research Program For Otto Krause Students Majoring in Chemistry

Each year Dr. Finkielstein’s laboratory, Virginia Tech, U.S.A. and the Department of Chemistry, E.N.E.T N°1 “Otto Krause” (, Buenos Aires, Argentina solicit applications from senior chemistry majors who are interested in pursuing a career in the area of cellular and molecular biology. The Escuela Tecnica “Otto Krause” is one of the elite public high schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upon completion of its six-year program, students are granted a degree in Chemical Science Technology. Most of these students continue their education in areas of engineer, natural sciences and biotechnology and are among the most competitive applicants in all major Universities and best professionals in the country. Candidate students interested in applying should download and complete the application form (PDF) and provide Prof. S. Palomino with contact information no later than mid-September. Credential review takes place mid-November and selected students (typically two) are notified early December.


- applicants must be full-time students at the E.N.E.T. N°1 “Otto Krause” at the time the application is submitted.
- students must be 18 or older at the time of traveling.
- the host laboratory, on a space available basis, determines placement acceptance.
- students are expected to write/read/speak fluent English.


Lab members during Hugo's and Javier's visit in 2006: Front (L to R): Javier Huretas Bustos, Kirsten Mahon, Taylor Luong, Jinhua Yang. Back (L to R): Hugo Amedei, Carlo Santos, Kristin Fleming-Dahl, Rebecca Sinnott, Mathhew Schrettner, Carla Finkielstein, Andrew Lucas.

Previous Awardees

As part of our international program, two high school students from "Otto Krause" (see list of awardees below) visited our laboratory and particpated in the SIP Intitiative. Both students learned basic molecular biology techniques (cloning, expression, and purification techniques for recombinant proteins as well as the basics of protein-protein interaction assays), biochemical assays (fluorescence anistropy) and cell biology (microscopy and microinjection) approaches to investigate signaling pathways. Emilio and Matias combined their work at the lab with a number of socio-cultural activities on campus and surrounded areas. Both students had returned and enrolled in College at the School of Natural Sciences - University of Buenos Aires. Matias chose Biochemistry as a major.

2013 Tenico Quimico Paula Borovik (
2012 Student Nicolas Gort ( )
2012 Tenico Quimico Leandro Luis Missoni (
2012 Tenico Quimico Maximiliano Nelson Inafuku ( )
2011 Tecnico Quimico David Enriquez (
2009 - 2010 Tecnico Quimico Matias Lanus Elizalde (
2009 - 2010 Tecnico Quimico Emilio Santillan (
2008 Tecnico Quimico Victoria Tripoli (
2007 Tecnico Quimico Roxana Steinman (
2006 Tecnico Quimico Hugo Amedei (
2006 Tecnico Quimico Javier Huertas Bustos (


Nico is splitting cells for an in vivo experiment.


Paula is working on her DNA digestions.


Leandro is drying gels and recording his data.


Maxi is working on some RNA preps.

David is ready to jump on his DNA digestion.


L to R: Javier Huertas Bustos, Carla Finkielstein, Hugo Amedei

Victoria Tripoli

L to R: Emilio Santillan and Matias L. Elizalde

Click here to read an article (in Spanish) on the exchange program written by Dr. Finkielstein.

Contact us

For more information or questions about the exchange program please send e-mails to Prof. S. Palomino.

Summer Research Program for Virginian High School Students Travelling to Otto Krause in Argentina

(Click here to download a PDF flyer.)

For the fifth consecutive year we have run our Summer Internship Program (SIP) at Virginia Tech.

Attention!!! We have received 14 applications for the two intern positions in our program for Summer 2013. Stay tuned for futher developments

Congratulations to Harsh Harkush Patolia, Karen Sophia Park, Gemma Porras, and Kristy Choi for being our ambassadors in Argentina. Harsh, Karen, Gemma, and Kristy have joined our SIP program following Josh Green and Meredith Simmon's' paths (2010) and stayed in our lab for 3 weeks internship in July and flew to Argentina in August. Some pictures of their internship experience in both countries are below. They all did great, made too many (!!!!!) new friends, and got to experience a difference education setting.

I am pleased to let you know that 5 out of the 6 students from Virginia that enrolled in our program continued upper level education in prestigious US universities. Kristy (our sixth student) is still a senior in high school but there is no doubt that she will enroll at the University.


Karen is taking her organic chemistry class in Otto Krause, Argentina.


Kristy at work in Otto Krause, Argentina.


Harsh working with a classmate in an organic synthesis project at Otto Krause, Argentina.


Gemma is taking notes of her latest experiment.


Kristy is making progress with some of her preps.



Gemma prepares an overnight culture in our lab.


Yeah! The experiment worked.

Loading gel can be fun too.

Josh's and Meredith's visit to E.N.E.T. N1 "Otto Krause". Josh (second row, left) and Meredith (second row, right)) stand for a picture along with some classmates during a short break while in the Analyticial Chemistry lab course.

Josh is ready to load one of his samples in a gel during his stay in Carla's lab.

Meredith is making fresh buffer in our lab.

Interested in:

Learning more about cancer?

Helping discover why some cancers are treatable with radiation and others are not?

Getting experience doing molecular biology research?

Seeing what high schools and colleges in another country are like?

Apply to be an International Science Intern!

Two Interns each year will be selected to spend:

Three weeks (June/July) in Dr. Carla Finkielstein’s lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, learning about the molecular biology of cancer and developing science research skills


Three weeks (July/August) at the Escuela Tecnica Otto Krause in Buenos Aires, Argentina, an elite public school specializing in chemistry. Interns will be able to work side by side with undergraduate, graduate, and faculty researchers, see what college life is like, and learn about another culture.

To apply:

Please submit the following by email (contact information below) no later than January 29, 2014.

One page letter describing your interest in science, research, and international travel
High school transcript(s)
Contact information for three references (e.g., teachers, supervisors)

Timeline for Internship

Applications due: January 29
Interviews of selected applicants: Early to mid-February
Informational meeting for families of selected applicants: Mid-February
Interns selected: March
Internship: June - August

Successful applicants will have a demonstrated interest in science, will be mature enough to travel internationally, and hold or be eligible for a passport.

Preference will be given to rising high school juniors and seniors and Spanish-speaking students. Interns will receive a $1,500 stipend. The costs of travel, meals, and lodging for the international component will also be covered.

For more information, please contact:
Carla Finkielstein, Ph.D. (

International Internship Exchange ProgramVirginia-US / European Community

Previous Awardees

2014 Michela Barbato, Sam Kirkham, University of Kent, Canterbury / UK
2014 Jacob Graham, Virginia Tech
2013 Clemens Schmittmann, Gymnasium am Wirteltor / Germany

A new high school visitor joined our program in 2012 and will be returning for a longer stay in 2013. Clemens Schmittmann a high scholar from Gymnasium am Wirteltor School in Germany stayed in our lab for 6 weeks in 2012 running experiments, learning molecular biology, and helping us in any possible task at the lab. A talented student, he will lead his own project this summer and work along undergraduate students in the lab.


Clemens is mastering pipetting.

High School Level Domestic Internships

High school students from Blacksburg are one step ahead of their peers around the country by joining us over the summer for their first total immersion-in lab training (In-lab-training Program). The program is intense in training and only few students are selected each summer. Students become an integral part of our laboratory shortly after they start. They spend the first couple of weeks learning basic molecular biology techniques and attending in-house lectures to help clarify basic concepts and get a better grasp of concepts. Later, each student is assigned a mentor in the lab that helps guide him/her over his/her own project. Students are invited to decide what project to join for which they are offered 3 options and need to learn how to research the literature. Students summarize their work in an oral presentation to all lab members at the end of their internship.

Previous Trainees

2016 Rebecca Button, Commonwealth Governor’s School
2015 William Abel, from Blacksburg High School 
2014 Elissa Fink, Southwest Virginia Governor’s school
2013 Meredith Dove, from Blacksburg High School
2013 William Abel, from Blacksburg High School
2012 Kristy Choi, from Blacksburg High School
2012 Edwin Lu, from Blacksburg High School currently at the Bio-Medical Engineering Program at University of Virginia.

Last Update 9 January 2017