• Silvina Di Pietro (Chemistry)Where did you intern?

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA

  • How did you get your internship?

Thanks to the DOE Fellows Program from the Applied Research Center at the FIU Engineering Campus

  • What did you do there? What projects did you work on?

I worked on my mentor’s project doing batch experiments with contaminated Hanford Site soils trying to reduce iodine. My experiments focused on two main processes: 1) understanding the influence of dithionite concentration (used as the reductant), and 2) understanding the rate of iron-oxide dissolution by dithionite solution. Because the soil sediments contain iron-oxides, we wanted to investigate how the reductant solution dissolved the iron-oxides.

  • What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship?

Being able to visit the B-Reactor, the first large-scale plutonium nuclear reactor ever built. It was amazing to be standing in front of the marvelous engineering created in only 11 months during 1943.

  • What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?

To be cognizant of everything that goes on around the lab or office you are working in, from the administrative aspects to the benefits to the actual day-to-day work. The main focus is to see if that internship experience matches your ideal future job.

  • What did you like most about your experience?

Interacting with the professionals in my field.

  • What did you learn about yourself?

That I am capable of working alongside experienced scientists to tackle, discuss and learn about the challenging environmental contamination problem at the Hanford Site.

  • How did the position increase your professional confidence?

As previously mentioned, working along with geochemists increased my professional knowledge on the research I am doing. Their invaluable input, suggestions on how to improve my experiments, teaching and collaboration allowed for my professional growth. This, in turn, allowed me to grow as a scientist because I emulate their thinking.


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