Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Kelly Tung

Being part of this summer internship program has been a transformative experience.

 August 10, 2021

Being part of this summer internship program has been a transformative experience. The Stanford Earth Young Investigators: Biodiversity Internship program came to an end quicker than I could have ever imagined. I have always been interested in programming, machine learning, sustainability, and biodiversity, and being part of this internship helped me bridge my passions together. I was able to use cutting-edge technology and computational algorithms to explore the unique biodiversity and environment of our planet.

Today’s earth and environmental sciences are data-intensive and require considerable computerization. My research team (consisted of Eliana Montgomery and Claire Hsu, who were both amazing and bright teammates) utilized ImageJ, a powerful measurement tool, for collecting body size data for the Stanford Earth Body Size dataset. We also used data science techniques to build complex data models and analyze existing data for our own research project.

The research project that my team worked on is “Investigating the Relationship between Metabolic Rate and Extinction Probability for Arthropoda, Brachiopoda, Echinodermata, and Mollusca Phyla during the Cenozoic Era.” We used specific respiration rates and body size data to calculate the metabolism of marine animals across different phyla. Then, we conducted data analyses to plot the metabolism and extinction probability of each studied phylum during every epoch of the Cenozoic Era.

We presented our research findings to members of the Payne lab and Stanford Earth faculty on August 5th, 2021. I really enjoyed listening to my fellow interns’ research findings and accomplishments. Additionally, I am beyond excited to present our research project at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2021! I look forward to receiving valuable feedback from scientists, professors, and researchers at this conference.

I would like to thank Dr. Pedro Monarrez, Dr. Jonathan Payne, Dr. Noel Heim, and Mr. Michael Pimentel for the guidance and mentorship they provided for our research project. I also want to thank Dr. Jennifer Saltzman for providing a wonderful opportunity for students like me to partake in this spectacular internship. I highly encourage every high school student to apply to this phenomenal program. You will not only grow as a researcher and scientist but also experience an extraordinary and rewarding summer!

Three women on a Zoom call

The Stanford Earth Young Investigators Biodiversity Internship program has blown me away over the past few weeks.

 July 7, 2021

The Stanford Earth Young Investigators Biodiversity Internship program has blown me away over the past few weeks. You won’t get this experience anywhere else. This program will take you on an extraordinary journey of discovering and exploring our planet.

I delved into this program ready to learn more about the history of our environment and the impacts of biodiversity. Our first week was jam-packed with presentations, lectures, and group activities that furthered our knowledge about Earth’s fascinating past. Throughout the week, Dr. Pedro Monarrez (our awesome mentor!) guided us through the evolution of extinct animals, the Cambrian Explosion, biodiversification during the Ordovician, Cope’s rule, effects of oxygen and temperature on biodiversity, and so much more. We also had a guest speaker, Joshua Zimmt, share his experience with excavating fossils and explain the fossilization process.

During our second week, we began learning the language R from Pedro and Michael Pimentel (another excellent mentor!). R programming is an extremely powerful and efficient tool for analyzing and computing data. I was immensely excited for this segment because I love learning new coding languages and applying my newfound knowledge to what I’ve already learned! I found that R was quite similar to Java and Python; it was exciting to see the connections between the content I learned during the internship and during my AP Computer Science course. I enjoyed compiling the program and watching the lines of code being converted into complex data visualizations.

We entered into statistics during our third week of the program. Pedro reviewed the basics of statistics (ex. null hypothesis, p-values) and combined our lessons with R programming to show how to run statistical tests. I can’t wait to start using these different types of statistical analyses to analyze data during the second portion of the program! We also did our first reading discussion of the book “Why Size Matters” by John Tyler Bonner. I was completely immersed in the book as it had many insightful observations and reflections about size in our daily lives.

Though it has only been a few weeks, I enjoyed every moment of being a Stanford Earth Young Investigator intern. I have always loved research and I am glad that I was able to meet other high schoolers who have the same passion and interest as me in this program. I have already learned so many valuable research skills and I am definitely stoked to start working on our group-based research projects, which we’ll have an opportunity to present at the American Geophysical Union Conference! Attending this internship virtually has been challenging yet rewarding and I am truly looking forward to the rest of this remarkable program.