Debbie Kim ’19 in Alaska.

It’s a great internship — if you love dogs and science.

“You definitely would have a hard time working with the dogs if you weren't a dog lover. The kennel houses some 50 sled dogs, and at that point the dogs will love on you whether you like it or not,” says Debbie Kim ’19. “Most of the time I've been at the kennel, I've worked with puppies only a few weeks old, and it's extremely hard not to fall in love with them when they're squeaking for attention or falling asleep.”

Debbie Kim ’19 in the lab
Debbie Kim ’19 in the lab.

Kim had two goals for her summer — get an internship and do it in her home state of Alaska, and she found a lead on the University of Alaska Fairbanks website. A researcher there was doing work in nutritional biology with sled dogs, and Kim, a biochemistry major, thought that sounded promising.

Emailing the professor, she landed herself an internship, which is funded by Hamilton’s Career Center. Kim splits her time between the Piledriver Kennel in Salcha and a lab at the university in Fairbanks. She's engaged in tasks such as taking thermal images of puppies, drawing blood from dogs, and taking the samples back to the lab for analysis, working with Kriya Dunlap, assistant professor of biochemistry.

about DEBBIE KIM '19

Major: Biochemistry/Molecular Biology

Hometown: Anchorage, Ala.

High School: West Anchorage


Kim has long been interested in working in health in rural Alaska, and the internships fits. “Kriya's research model may be sled dogs but her work ultimately explores nutritional biochemistry as it relates to human health. Even though nutrition may be considered more preventive than diagnostic, I think it holds an important place in medicine all the same,” Kim says.

After graduation she intends to get experience working as a medical scribe as she prepares for med school. “For now, my long-term goal is to serve in places in Alaska with a shortage in doctors, perhaps in emergency medicine,” she says.

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