Summer Internship Spotlight: Sterling Kowalski

July 12, 2012

Sterling Kowalski is a research assistant at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. He was raised right here in Galesburg and is currently a junior. Sterling is majoring in psychology with a business and management minor.

Tell us about your internship. Where is it based, and what are your responsibilities?
It's at the Center for Collaborative Brain Research in Functional MRI laboratory at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. I mostly work with data extrapolation, manipulation, and interpretation in research studies that use fMRI as their primary measurement tool.

What does it involve on a day to day basis?Sterling Kowalski '14 is a research assistant at OSF St. Francis Medical Center

It really varies. I've never spent more than a few days on any particular task. I could be doing anything from finding and invalidating files, to transferring and renaming files, to making spreadsheets that interpret MRI scans.

How did you learn about this opportunity?
St. Francis always posts intership opportunities on their website. I applied online, and they contacted me the next day.

Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom experiences at Knox have benefited you in the internship?

Psychology research courses have been helpful. Because of PSYC 281 and 282, I haven't ever been lost in the research process. I know the jargon, and I know how to conduct psychological research.

How do you think this internship experience will benefit you in terms of your education and future career plans?
I know that it will help when I take PSYC 360 and 361 for my senior research. For my career, I want to go into hospital administration. I think it's very important in hospital administration to know and understand each segment of what makes up a hospital, whether that be the actual treatment of patients, the finances, or the research. Because of that, I believe this internship will be invaluable to the advancement of my career.

fMRI ScanWhat has been the coolest part of your internship so far?
Learning how to use the computer software to rotate the brain, light up active parts of the brain, and manipulate the image to produce usable information has definitely been the coolest.

What inspired you to pursue the internship?

I wanted something that could combine my interests in psychology and neuroscience that was also connected to the practice of medicine. While I don't want to practice medicine, I still feel like there is a gap between hospital administration and actual practice that needs to be overcome.

What do you expect to learn through the remainder of your time with St. Francis?

I'm going to gain more experience and get an even better grasp on the research process, which will allow me to not only conduct research, but also properly interpret others' research.


Read more about Sterling's Knox experience in his student profile.