Montana State University

MSU students spend summer on German RISE internships

June 21, 2005 -- By Jean Arthur, MSU News Service

From left to right, Sarah Meyer, Nolan Morgan and Shawn McGlynn.   High-Res Available

Subscribe to MSU Newsletters

Bobcat Bulletin is a weekly e-newsletter designed to bring the most recent and relevant news about Montana State University directly to friends and neighbors via email. Visit Bobcat Bulletin.

MSU Today e-mail brings you news and events on campus thrice weekly during the academic year. Visit the MSU Today calendar.

MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Bozeman--Shawn McGlynn stands on a centuries-old cobblestone strasse in Germany contemplating critical fluids as solvent systems. The Montana State University senior and Billings native is one of three MSU undergraduates spending the summer in Germany thanks to a German RISE scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service in cooperation with science organizations in North America and Germany.

The new internship for U.S. and Canadian undergraduates is available in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. German university research groups provide summer placements. Trainees cooperate with doctoral students and assist in laboratory experiments. Funding is through the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour as part of the European Recovery Program.

"My scholarship is to study with a graduate student in chemistry," e-mails McGlynn from Europe. "I'm looking at different solvent systems, in general, green chemistry, trying to find new reactions to lessen environmentally harmful effects of solvents."

For example, he explains that caffeine can be removed from coffee beans by using carbon dioxide instead of a solvent. "Here, carbon dioxide acts an ideal food-safe solvent by which caffeine can be removed from the bean, and the carbon dioxide used is not a disposal or health liability."

McGlynn's summer research includes working on the use of gas-expanded liquids as a solvent media.

"The research should eventually lead to major reductions in the amounts of solvents used in industrial chemical processes," says McGlynn. "Results will be both economically and environmentally favorable."

Also in Germany on a RISE scholarship is Sarah Meyer, a senior in agriculture biotechnology, from Sioux Falls, S.D. She searches for the function of water-soluble chlorophyll proteins.

"During the school year, I work in MSU's Wheat Genetics Lab," writes Meyer from Mainz. "For the RISE program, I am studying at the Universitat Mainz. I am working in the general botany department, even though all of the work is molecular."

Nolan Morgan, a sophomore in engineering from Manhattan, is in North Rhine-Westphalia federal state. He explains that his lab work uses an airflow system to precisely control the air used in air filter experiments in cars.

"The purpose of the filters is to remove pollutants in the air before the car's occupants breathe them in," he writes. "The air in the airflow system can be altered for humidity, flow rate and temperature to simulate different weather conditions in which one would be driving."

He says that his summer locale significantly differs from his family ranch in the northern tier of Gallatin County.

"I work at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Duisburg, home to Europe's largest inland port, heavily industrialized, and one of the most densely populated locations in Europe," Morgan says. "I speak virtually no German, and this is where I have encountered surprises. The (organizers) told us that no German was needed for the internship, and this is true in the respect that the researchers and faculty at the university do speak English well enough. However, Duisburg is very working class. Thus, most people I encounter on the street, in the stores and so forth usually don't speak English. Now I have learned a bit of German, and I can get around much better than I could when I first arrived."

Meyer and McGlynn have also waltzed to learn German.

"I am living in an apartment with a Russian girl who has been in Germany only a few months," Meyer says. "She does not speak much English, and she is learning German slowly. Communicating with her has been challenging and fun. Other challenges and surprises include shopping and cooking when I can't read the packages. I hope to have many adventures in Germany and surrounding countries."

RISE placements are intended to give students the opportunity to live and work in an international context, gain confidence in practical and theoretical skills, and improve language skills, notes the organization's Web site. "Last but not least, the research internship should be a source of mutual cultural enrichment for trainees and their hosts."

"In receiving the scholarship, I think my previous research experience working on enzyme mechanism and structure determination in John Peter's MSU chemistry lab was integral, and having a solid letter of recommendation from Dr. Peters helped too," McGlynn says. "This scholarship will surely make a large impact in my education. Learning how another culture works, both within the context of scientific research and in daily life, will be an eye opener. The research conducted and friendships formed this summer in Germany will have a continuing role throughout my life."

Contact Shawn McGlynn or Sarah Meyer or Mariah Stember (406) 994-7157 or