“Writing is Important Regardless of the Field”
This summer, Haruna Shimizu ’21 is interning at Columbia University Medical Center. There, she furthers her science writing abilities while learning about new developments in the medical world. She's one of 200 Hamilton students conducting research or completing an internship supported by the College.
What is your internship at Columbia University Medical Center?
There isn’t an official title, as this internship opportunity is something that I arranged with my supervisor, but I’d say that I’m like a scientific writing editorial intern.
What are your responsibilities?
My primary work responsibility is to undergo scientific writing training. In the beginning, I primarily read relevant scientific articles and learned from my supervisor about the publishing process of scientific articles. Now, I work toward finalizing articles as well as providing point-by-point responses to the reviewers’ critiques of the articles my supervisor oversees. I also review other forms of writing, such as presentation slides and progress reports, and discuss with the writers to make sure that I am not misunderstanding anything. By attending weekly meetings that report the latest advances in lab research within the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, I learn about the scientific research studies taking place.
Majors: Creative writing and French
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
High School: Makuhari Senior High School
Why did you apply to Columbia Medical?
I applied because I am interested in writing in different disciplines. I also wished to gain editorial experience in a professional and academic workplace. Hamilton’s liberal arts education and focus on writing has encouraged both of these interests. In addition, I encountered different types of writing through my on-campus job as a Writing Center tutor, and I saw that writing is very important regardless of the field.
What’s been the most challenging about your work?
The fact that the articles that I read deal with the latest advancements in the medical field. This includes medical jargon and advanced concepts. When I make edits, I need to make sure that I stay faithful to the writers’ intended meaning. Fortunately, I have been able to directly communicate with the investigator, who is an expert in the field and most helpful in clarifying the concepts. I’m also fortunate that I go directly to the lab and learn about these concepts firsthand. This internship requires that I learn new information on the spot, and I think it is beneficial for my liberal arts education.
What’s been most rewarding?
The idea that the writing I’m involved in is contributing directly to advancements in the field. I have come to realize just how important writing is in the medical research field. Xenotransplantation, which is what the lab is working on, has the potential to deal with the organ shortage crisis. During this internship, I have talked to investigators who are passionate about their work, which has been motivational.
What are your future plans/aspirations?
I think I’ve gained more knowledge of academic publishing through this internship. I’d like to pursue a career in the publishing industry or in any field that’s relevant to writing. I am also interested in graduate school. For the next two semesters, I’m looking forward to improving my French language skills in Paris.