GTI Highlights: Nathalie Plundrich

Nathalie Plundrich first came to NC State University as an undergraduate intern from Germany through the GTI’s J-1 Student Intern Program. She worked at the Plants for Human Health Institute at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, NC. Nathalie currently works as a research assistant in the lab of the institute’s director as she completes her master’s degree in food science at NC State. She has gotten the chance to travel and work on her teaching skills during her graduate program.

Below is an account of her experience in her own words:

“I would totally recommend an internship or study abroad, whether it is the US or any other country. I keep telling friends that this is a great opportunity to leave your comfort zone, what you are used to, and get to know another country, learn and practice another language, get to know another culture, the people, another way of life, food, traditions, etc.

First, I got the chance to really use English and improve it. Second, I left life as I knew it back in Germany and had to face life totally on my own, being independent and solving problems on my own. And third, it was a great opportunity to get to know how the American school system works, and in my case how people work in research or in the lab.”

Working at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC)

“My internship was the basis, the foundation of what came afterward. People were extraordinarily friendly, and they welcomed me very nicely and were open from the very beginning. We worked together as a team and everybody tried to support each other. The work environment was professional yet still felt like a family, which I really liked. I think it is very important, especially in research, to work as one team and make use of so many people’s different expertise. The NCRC is a great example and provides the opportunity to do so.

I learned how to work in a team with my lab supervisor (Dr. Mary Grace), my boss (Dr. Mary Ann Lila), as well as other researchers and interns in the lab. For the first time, I also got the chance to supervise other interns, which was challenging at first but a great experience. I also learned how to establish methods on my own, to read and compare different papers to finally optimize a technique with my work. I got to know what research means and that patience and endurance are very important.

I got the great chance in 2010 to contribute as a co-author to a project that got published in 2011. And in 2011, I had the opportunity to present my Bachelor’s project at the 6th International Workshop on Anthocyanins (IWA) in the form of an interactive poster presentation.”

Nathalie is one of numerous international student interns who have come to conduct research or work with NC State professors, departments, and North Carolina companies through the GTI’s J-1 Student Intern Program.