Intern Log: Bella Marku

By Till Credner (Own work: [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Thursday, August 11, 2016 

Hello Carnegie folks! When I received the email asking if I’d like to write an article for the website, I was honored! I figure that many of you have seen me around campus, and now you’ll find out what I’m actually doing here.

I’ll start off with a little bit about myself – I’m a rising senior at McLean High School. I’m thinking of majoring in computer science at college, but I’m also very passionate about astronomy. My hobbies include volleyball (both playing and coaching), tutoring younger students in chemistry and geometry, and doing community service with my local youth group.

Bella Marku (right) and her friend Sam (left) with their trophies after their volleyball team won the league playoffs. Photo by Bella Marku.

I first heard about Carnegie in early 2015 from my neighbor Danielle Appleby, executive assistant to the president of Carnegie, who praised the institute as a wonderful place of research and scientific collaboration. My interest was piqued and, after attending a few of the lectures from the Neighborhood Lectures series, I was hooked. I’ve loved science ever since I can remember, and Carnegie seemed like the exact place I wanted to be. Danielle suggested applying for an internship with Shaun Hardy in the Archives and I jumped at the opportunity. I wrote my personal statement as fast as I could, and before I knew it I was meeting with Shaun in person. We took a liking to each other and, after working out the details, arranged for me to intern with him for the summer! 

One of the photos from the DTM "Views" albums depicting one of the locals and his goat. Photo courtesy of Bella Marku.

I was so excited to finally be working in such a professional scientific environment. My summer 2015 project involved digitizing the information found in the DTM’s “Views” albums, which consisted of photographs taken on the Department’s early missions to map Earth’s magnetic field. None of the information in the albums was stored digitally, so I went through each of the 20+ albums and recorded the information on the pictures, including the year they were taken, the expedition leader, and the location. It was so fascinating to see all these far away places through the eyes of the expedition leaders – some of the pictures were from places so exotic I hadn’t even heard of them. The process was made even more enjoyable by being in the company of Shaun, Merri Wolf, and Jihua Hao, a predoctoral fellow at the Geophysical Lab. Lunch was always exciting when I was with them!

A photo of Bella's work station for this summer. Her project started out with organizing observation data for each star in the constellation Chamaeleon and updating the DTM wiki. Photo by Bella Marku.

This summer, I’m happily back at Carnegie working this time with Alycia Weinberger, who I was graciously put in touch with through Shaun because he remembered my interest in astronomy. My current project involves using parallax to measure distances to stars in the constellation Chamaeleon. Alycia is an amazing teacher and role model and I couldn’t be happier.

By Till Credner (Own work: [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Interning at Carnegie has been such a positive experience for me and I’m so thankful I received the opportunity. Being in a professional environment and working alongside real scientists has made me positive that I want to pursue a degree in a STEM field. It feels incredibly rewarding to walk into such a prestigious establishment and be treated as an equal who is doing meaningful research that contributes to a cause.

I’d like to send a big thank-you to all the staff at Carnegie for being so helpful and welcoming during my time here. If you see me around campus, please feel free to stop me and say hello!

P.S. I’ll be sending out college applications this winter and my top pick right now is Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh – what a happy coincidence! Hopefully my internship at the institute of the same name will give me an edge over the competition.

Written by Bella Marku, August 11, 2016

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