Summer at Columbia: My Research on Spinal Muscular Atrophy

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Daniel E. Palmieri, COL ’17

palm1Over the course of the summer, I was fortunate enough to spend my time in Dr. Pellizzoni’s lab at Columbia University, where I found a truly dedicated and intelligent group of researches, all of whom imparted me with lasting knowledge of the world of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). During my freshman summer, I had worked with a colleague of Dr. Pellizzoni, Dr. Bozzoni, at La Sapienza University of Rome, studying the role of circular RNAs in ALS and muscular dystrophy. In hopes of continuing my research on neurodegenerative diseases, I was put in touch with Dr. Pellizzoni in hopes of working with him at Columbia University. I had been waiting since the end of my freshman summer to work with him, and thankfully Career Services provided me with the possibility of living in New York to work in Dr. Pellizzoni’s lab.

During my time in the lab, I was assigned to multiple projects, all of which focused on studying the interactions of palm2“LSm proteins” and SMN, the protein involved in spinal muscular atrophy. My lab experience beforehand had been largely biochemical, but this time I was exposed to cell culture and mouse work, which allowed me to study the disease in a completely new way. I was personally responsible for establishing cell lines expressing the proteins that we were interested in studying, which actually took several weeks to accomplish. As such, I was able to watch my project evolve from drawings on a notebook to actual biological experiments. In this post, I’ve included a fluorescent picture of two of my cell lines, all of which express a fluorescent protein known as GFP. Notice how the green disappears dots (GFP) disappear in the bottom photo from left to right, showing that the cellular model was working properly.

What made the experience truly memorable was the talented group of people that I was able to work with in the lab. During my stay, I worked under a post-doctoral student who taught me more than I could have imagined in just 10 weeks, imparting me with invaluable knowledge that I will continue to use in my future research. I also directly assisted a PhD student in her SMA research projects, allowing me to explore the disease from views not directly related to my own project.

Every week, a member of the lab (there were 5 others) was required to give a lab presentation, detailing the progress of their research. I was able to give this presentation at the very end of my internship, explaining how I had gone about my research and the challenges that I had encountered along the way. It was an opportunity to demonstrate what I had learned from my time in the lab and to practice research presentations, an invaluable skill to any future researcher.

Overall, my time at Columbia University was one of the most rewarding lab experiences that I have ever had, and I am beyond grateful that I was able to participate in such a phenomenal internship.

Not invited, try an Add-on!

resumehandmanThere is an employer on PennLink that you have submitted your resume for consideration. You really want to be selected as an invite.  You wait – you check PennLink – you’re “Not Invited.”   Don’t be discouraged, submit an “Add On” request.  Over 150 Add On interviews were held in OCR last season.  Most employers will look at and even schedule last minute interviews with students who have submitted an add-on request.  Of course there is no guarantee of acceptance, but you never know!  Sometimes employers will experience a late cancellation or even a dreaded no show and would like to fill those empty slots.  If your resume is in their packet, you may be selected.

The process is very simple. Go on the Career Services website and under the main OCR page, select Recruiter Add-on Interview Request Form.  Fill out the form or print several copies to have on hand.  Once the form is filled out, attach your resume and bring them to the Career Services office in the basement level of the McNeil Building, Suite 20.  There you will find the Recruiter Add-On Interview Request Box.  The box will be available to you between the hours of 9:15 am until 2:00 pm.  Now please keep in mind that you’re submitting add-on requests for the next working day’s interviews.  For instance, submit on Monday for Tuesday interviews; submit on Friday for Monday interviews. The add-on requests will be given to the recruiters when they check into OCR the following morning. The recruiter will review the resumes at their convenience and will ask the OCR receptionist to call the students they wish to interview. There is no need to call and check on the status of your add-on request. The OCR receptionist will contact you by telephone if you are selected for an add-on interview. If you are not selected, you will not be contacted.

Many students who have received add-on interviews have also received offers from those employers. So try it!  You might get an interview with the employer you really want!


Marlene L. Cohen
Recruiting Manager
Career Services/On Campus Recruiting

Tweeting this Monday: Nora Downs, W ’13, Research Manager at GLG

Throughout the school year, we feature alumni across many different industries as part of our “Tweet for Day” progam.  Be sure you’re following @PennCareerDay this Monday, 9/19/2016 to catch our first guest Tweeter of the fall, Nora Downs!

downsNora Downs is a 2013 Wharton Undergraduate alumna, with a concentration in Operations and Information Management. She is currently a Research Manager at GLG, based out of Austin, Texas. GLG is the world’s largest membership network for one-on-one professional learning, comprising more than 425,000 thought leaders and practitioners, including business leaders, scientists, academics, former public sector leaders and the foremost subject matter specialists. Nora serves investment bank and investment manager clients, and her daily work includes managing their research requests and proposing creative learning solutions for topics covering all sectors, including energy & industrials, consumer goods, technology, healthcare, and financial services. Prior to joining GLG, Nora spent two years working at Barclays in New York. In her free time, she enjoys getting outside in Austin, enjoying all of the hiking, biking, and water activities the city offers.

Nora will take control of @PennCareerDay starting at 9:00am EST on Monday.   Feel free to tweet her questions as she goes!


This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Danielle Moore, COL ’18

moore1When I arrived at the West Los Angeles offices of Variety – whose iconic red sign is clearly visible from the perpetually traffic-jammed highway below – I was excited but unsure of what to expect. Ushered up to the 9th floor of the Penske Media Corporation, the parent company of Variety owned by Penn alum Jay Penske, I was giddy to find on the lobby coffee table the full portfolio of the company’s bespoke print publications – including not only the weekly print edition of Variety, but also fashion industry mainstays like Women’s Wear Daily and Beauty, Inc. So you can imagine my glee when, later that morning, my boss led me to a rack of Variety issues and told me to “feel free” to take copies whenever I pleased.


The magazines, though, were far from the only perk of the job – and also far from the coolest part of the offices. The fifth floor boasts a turquoise mural painted by famed L.A. street artist Banksy, featuring – quite appropriately – a slew of legendary movie quotes. Framed black-and-white photographs of stars featured in Variety dot the entirety of the 9-story office building. I certainly couldn’t complain about my seat on the top floor of the building, next to the editors of movie news site Deadline, and across from a portrait of Kate Winslet and a candid of Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino. Celebrities in the office though, were not merely in photo form; Tom Hiddleston and Seth Rogen were among the stars who visited the office to promote projects while I was there!


My very first weekend on the job, I was given the opportunity to cover EditFest LA, the American Cinema Editor’s annual conference, held on the Walt Disney Studios Lot – whose backstage location alone provided this lifetime Disney devotee an unprecedented thrill. An even bigger thrill was being introduced to Kevin Tent, the editor of the acclaimed films of director Alexander Payne, including Nebraska and The Descendants. Additionally, since I interned during the height of Emmy campaign season, I also had the opportunity to cover an event for FX’s American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, featuring Lead Actress nominee Sarah Paulson, former prosecutor Marcia Clark, and Executive Producer Ryan Murphy.


In addition to gaining experience in industry event coverage, I was also tasked with contributing to the marketing campaigns for one of Variety’s recently acquired and re-branded properties, Variety 411. I drafted eblasts for subscribers, wrote advertising copy, researched film festival partnerships, and commandeered several social media channels. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to complete these diverse tasks, as they allowed me to participate in nearly all essential facets of a digital and print entertainment media publisher in today’s market. I am incredibly grateful for this experience, as it not only afforded me the opportunity to contribute to a cornerstone company in entertainment, but also cemented my interest in working in media that focuses on the creative and systematic creation of art in the entertainment industry.

Making Your Search Your Own

by Jamie Grant, C’98 GEd’99

I met recently with a senior contemplating career fields and really unsure how to proceed – did he follow what he thought “everyone else is doing,” i.e. attending career fairs, applying through On-Campus Interviewing, attending information sessions, etc.?  Or did he forge his own path and work to identify positions not necessarily offered through campus vehicles but rather through networking and research to unearth opportunities through a different route? 

The moral of this conundrum is that there is NO ONE WAY to find a job, much less start a career.  Think of your search as a tool box – there are lots of different kinds of tools, some more appropriate for certain types of work than others, and everyone uses them differently.  Different does not equal better or worse – it’s just different.  Career Fairs and On-Campus Recruiting may make up part of your search efforts, and perhaps for what you have interest in those are the two most important tools you need.  But this process is certainly not one-size-fits-all and as an advisor, I warmly encourage you, as I did this student, to speak with one of us about YOUR job search.  Make it your own – and give yourself the greatest possible chance to find fulfillment and success on YOUR terms.