Gainesville, Fla. — Emily Hale, a senior biology undergraduate student in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), spent her summer with Gallo in their winegrowing research internship program.
Hale first discovered the opportunity while searching for an internship focused on staple crop biotechnology.
“As I began to look for summer internship opportunities at the end of my junior fall semester, I was seeing many of the same types of internships that all revolved around staple crop biotechnology,” she said. “Of course, I still found these interesting because that is the field that I want to go into, but when I found the Gallo internship it seemed like a very different experience from the rest.”
Landing a competitive internship, however, can be a difficult process. Hale knew she needed to set herself apart from other candidates with demonstrated experience in a lab and competence performing different molecular biology techniques. Hale had the foresight to recognize these experiences do not happen overnight, so she started searching early.
When Hale was a sophomore, she applied to work for the UF Blueberry Breeding and Genomics Lab as part of the fruit quality team during harvest. Hale spent that summer assisting harvesting projects and learning the nuances of a lab. Here she was able to begin her development of molecular biology techniques in this lab setting.
To set herself further apart, Hale bolstered her resume by co-hosting an episode of horticultural sciences professor Kevin Folta’s podcast, “Talking Biotech.” In this episode, Hale got the unique opportunity to interview Dr. Sakkie Pretorius, an expert in grape genetics and molecular biology.
“The podcast was a way for me to set myself apart from the other candidates who also had their sights set on Gallo,” said Hale. “The podcast was a great experience and I got to learn a lot about wine and yeast biotechnology as well.”
Finally, Hale applied, and earned her spot as an intern on the microbiology and systems biology team at Gallo. “I learned so much about viticulture and winemaking while also learning new molecular biology methods that I had never been exposed to before,” said Hale. Her specific project was on molecular prediction for color intensity in grapes. As the only plant molecular biology intern, Hale received plenty of hands-on experiences during her time at the vineyard.
For Hale, an experience like this is something that takes active preparation and outside-the-classroom opportunities, something CALS encourages for all students.
“Overall, it was such a unique experience that I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t done the work to set myself apart from other applicants,” said Hale. “In my career, I am going to use almost every aspect of my experience at Gallo in my next job.”
ABOUT THE UF/IFAS COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL AND LIFE SCIENCES
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution.