Borlaug-Ruan interns: experience strengthens students’ research skills

By Amber Friedrichsen

Editor’s Note: This is one of three stories featuring College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students who served as Borlaug-Ruan 2022 International Interns over the summer. The internship program, offered by the World Food Prize Foundation, places students in organizations around the world to work with leading researchers and policymakers to analyze agricultural, nutritional, health, economic and environmental issues. from a global perspective.

More than 300 students have served as Borlaug-Ruan International Interns since the program’s inception in 1998. This year, the World Food Prize offered 23 internships to undergraduate students from across the country. The majority of their work experiences were remote due to the lasting effects of COVID-19.

Read the stories of fellow interns, Rachel Currant and Molly Simmons.

As a freshman in Global Resource Systems, Idania Carrillo-Martin is eager to choose a technical field that matches her interests and aspirations. After participating in the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship Program 2022, she has a clearer picture of her academic goals.

Carrillo was placed at the International Livestock Research Institute located in Nairobi, Kenya. The main objective of the organization is to reduce global food insecurity by improving animal production in low-income countries. It also funds research into farming practices that increase the sustainability and scalability of animal agriculture in rural areas.

Many ILRI projects follow the principles of One Health – an approach to research that integrates knowledge of livestock health, human health and environmental health to improve local food systems and combat zoonotic diseases.

Carrillo spent part of her internship studying One Health and the ways this model benefits small communities. She collaborated with her supervisor, Dr. Nicholas Bor, Associate Researcher at ILRI, to understand how the organization integrates One Health into its mission and write a research paper on the subject.

“Dr. Bor is a veterinarian and an expert in One Health,” Carrillo said. “I learned how ILRI uses information from all three sectors to do things like create vaccines for animals and humans.”

In addition to One Health, Carrillo has also written reports on a variety of other topics relevant to ILRI, such as veterinary nutrition and veterinary epidemiology. That said, most of his research was much broader than the scope of the organization.

“Because my internship was remote, I couldn’t do anything hands-on, so Dr. Bor and I discussed what I wanted from the experience,” she said. “He assigned me a new topic each week that I wrote a research paper on, then reviewed it and gave me professional feedback.”

Carrillo said her internship was an opportunity to hone her research skills and investigate different aspects of the agriculture industry. This was especially beneficial before starting her first semester at Iowa State, and it caused her to rethink the trajectory of her college career.

“I thought I was going to go the vet route, but found out that I preferred to do international studies, which is why I decided to major in global resource systems,” Carrillo said. “I found my research in veterinary epidemiology very fascinating, so I might consider animal science as my technical field.”

Ahead of the school year, Carrillo is ready to explore her newfound interest in international studies in GLOBE 120: Geography of Global Resource Systems. This class studies the impact of factors such as climate, topography and population on the production and distribution of agricultural products. She plans to implement the research skills she learned during her internship in this class, along with the rest of her classes.

“One of the biggest lessons of this summer is learning more about myself and how I work best,” she said. “I practiced dissection reading and research, note taking and a lot of writing. I also developed different soft skills like communication and time management, which will be very important for me at university and in my career. »

Paul N. Strickland