Skip to main content

Inspiring Learning Around the World

Experiences around the world provide impactful learning opportunities for Life Sciences students.

Malawi, a small nation in southeastern Africa, has some of the highest rates of protein deficiency in the world. Due to a short rainy season, it is imperative that Malawians have a diverse, protein-rich crop supply that can be grown during the dry season.

Malawi postal stamp illustration.
Photo by Emily Tribe

The School of Agriculture for Family Independence (SAFI), established by NuSkin’s Force for Good Foundation, seeks to provide resources to increase protein-rich crops in Malawi- an communities. Program results have been great, with graduates’ crop yields increasing by approximately 700 percent since the school opened.

Carter Allred, a senior majoring in environ- mental science, became involved with SAFI after taking the pilot for a new agricultural and international development course at BYU.

Working with Dr. Rick Jellen, an associate dean in the College of Life Sciences, and Professor Moses Maliro of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Allred helped develop new quinoa breeds at SAFI. His project was to evaluate whether or not hybrids performed better than previously developed purebred quinoa breeds.

“Developing a new crop anywhere takes a long time,” Allred said. “The research I was doing was pretty incremental, but it helped move the project forward.”

Ghana postal stamp illustration.
Photo by Emily Tribe

When public health student Naomi Rhondeau learned about maternal health disparities across the globe, she decided to do something about it. Rhondeau and a team of students created an app to assist Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) in lowering Ghana’s maternal mortality rate.

The offline app, Maame, aims to reduce maternal mortality rates in rural communities and acts as a resource to provide proper prenatal and postnatal care. The app helps CHWs schedule with patients and educate expecting mothers on prenatal and postnatal care.

After months of collaborating together, the students returned to Ghana this past summer to test the app and tailor it to the CHWs’ needs. Rhondeau and her team led two different trainings with over 70 healthcare workers. “Depending on how the healthcare workers like it and how much it actually helps them in their work, we are looking to expand it to other communities in Ghana,” Rhondeau says.

Hershey, Pennsylvania postal stamp illustration.
Photo by Emily Tribe

MICHELLE NISHIGUCHI (MMBIO)— USA Michelle Nishiguchi, a senior studying microbiology, traveled to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to research cytomegalovirus (CMV) at Penn State College of Medicine. Anyone can contract CMV, but it is of greater concern to pregnant women as it can transfer to the placenta and cause birth defects. Since there are no effective vaccines available to treat CMV, Nishiguchi and her team conducted research to learn about the virus. The lab hopes this research can be used to develop treatments and therapies for CMV. Nishiguchi explained how her summer internship experience set the stage for her studies and her future career: “I really want to be the one who develops the cures rather than the one administering them. When I found that I could help people in a different way, I loved that.”

Zaragoza, Spain postal stamp illustration.
Photo by Emily Tribe

Before Hayden Reed, a sophomore majoring in bioinformatics, participated in an internship in Spain this summer, he was debating between studying computer science or going into a premed program. However, his experience in the healthcare environment was a game changer for him.
“I knew I liked medicine, but being able to participate and communicate with doctors and to put into practice what I’d been learning . . . I realized that this is definitely where I want to be.”

Interning at a hospital in Zaragoza, Spain, Reed had the opportunity to observe surgical processes and shadow doctors in a variety of procedures. He was most impressed by orthopedic surgery and realized that was exactly what he wanted to do in the future.

“Everything I learned in anatomy and my other classes came together as they were performing the operation to replace the patient’s knee,” he says. “Reconstructing the human body was the coolest thing I had ever seen.”

Shanghai, China postal stamp illustration.
Photo by Emily Tribe

Tina Lin, a senior studying food science, interned “behind the scenes” this past summer at General Mills (GMI) in Shanghai. She worked on a cost-saving project for Wanchai Ferry Dumplings. Her job was to replace 50 percent of meat in dumpling fillings using stabilizers and texturized soy protein, thus adjusting costs for the top five dumpling flavors. Lin helped her team create a formula for the dumplings that saved money but also maintained good flavor.

“On my last day at GMI, I was able to see the fruit of my three months’ labor,” Lin said. “[We achieved] four million dollars of saving using the latest version of our experiments.”

Reflecting on her experiences and successes at GMI, Lin expressed gratitude for those who encouraged her to learn and try new things: “I can’t think of a better place to learn about the food industry . . . and the skills to work and cooperate in a cross-functional team. I hope to continue to apply what I have learned from General Mills!”

Rome, Italy postal stamp illustration.
Photo by Emily Tribe

This past summer, Liesl Passantino, a senior majoring in exercise and wellness, interned at the LDS Charities Friendship Centre in Rome, Italy. The Centre aims to serve refugees, helping them gain English and Italian language skills and helping

provide them with the means to be part of a com- munity. Passantino had the opportunity to teach health classes specific to her focus, including stress management and nutrition.

For Passantino, it was amazing to meet, teach, and learn from the variety of students that participated. She expressed how the people she met made more of an impact on her than she likely did on them:

“They needed a community. [But] they had much more of an impact on me. . . . For me to [see] their needs and yet the happiness they have was touching. . . . They never complained, and they had been through so much.”