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Sun Health Research Institute inspires ASU student intern

August 04, 2009

Rubbing elbows with world-class researchers – not a bad way to spend one’s summer vacation, especially if you are an Arizona State University student with an insatiable appetite to learn all you can about a range of scientific topics.

Jane Kruchowsky was one of only 16 students selected from 150 applicants for a summer internship with Banner Sun Health Research Institute (SHRI) in Sun City. Kruchowsky, who is double-majoring in life sciences and psychology through the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU’s West campus, worked with adult progenitor cells under the guidance of SHRI scientists. Her work contributed to research into Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

“My experiences in this internship have been extremely valuable as I firm up my career goals,” says Kruchowsky, a Glendale resident and Mountain Ridge High School graduate.

“The research experience, feeding the adult progenitor cells and observing the changes that follow, is fascinating. The study results have the potential to make changes in people’s quality of life,” she says. “My work pulled together the things I learned in genetics, cell biology, and physiological psychology into real life experience with relevance to the medical field. The constant learning and problem-solving, as well as the potential to do good with the end result, are criteria I am looking for in my career.”

While working on potentially ground-breaking research, Kruchowsky also gained experience at some of the “nuts and bolts” of scientific work, such as pipetting, cell culture isolation and working with DNA.

“Jane has been an extraordinary summer student, with marvelous potential,” says Diego Mastroeni, laboratory manager at SHRI. “Her efforts in our laboratory have led to many successful experiments. Her thirst for knowledge and drive for the answer is any scientist’s dream.”

Mastroeni says summer interns bring a sense of freshness to the work conducted at SHRI. “Interns are often underappreciated, but at SHRI we utilize our students’ talents and offer them their own projects. This benefits the students as well as the Institute,” he says.

Ninety-eight percent of SHRI’s summer interns have pursued bachelor’s degrees in science or heath care, with many more going on to pursue graduate degrees in the field, says Brian Browne, director of communications and education for SHRI.

“The SHRI Summer Internship Program creates a direct pipeline to nurture the next generation of high-caliber individuals to fulfill the growing need of the nation’s and Arizona’s medical and bioscience industries,” Browne says. “The hands-on nature of the program and its access to world-class research coupled with individual mentorship by some of the greatest research minds is an opportunity of a lifetime for these students.”

Pamela Marshall, assistant professor of biology in the Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences within ASU’s New College, encouraged Kruchowsky to apply for the SHRI internship.

“The summer research internships at Sun Health Research Institute are very valuable in helping students to get the hands-on research experience needed in order to take their interest in science to the next level,” Marshall says. “SHRI should be commended and supported for their investment in these budding scientists’ research futures.”

Kruchowsky took a Fundamentals of Genetics course taught by Marshall last spring. Marshall describes her as a student who is intensely curious and asks excellent questions. Kruchowsky’s interest in biological and social sciences began developing in earnest when she was in high school and took advanced courses in biology, chemistry and psychology.

“I have had a number of excellent instructors in New College who have continued to challenge me to learn,” Kruchowsky says. “The small class sizes allow for interaction with professors. This has enabled a mentoring situation to develop that has helped me discover my love of the research process.”

Located on ASU’s West campus, the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through three divisions: Mathematical and Natural Sciences; Social and Behavioral Sciences; and Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies. Information is available at

Banner Sun Health Research Institute is a world-class leader in basic and translational research, clinical care, prevention and education in age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, arthritis and cancer. Founded in 1986 as a private, nonprofit biomedical research center, SHRI now has nearly 100 international scientists and research staff. Details may be found at