Psychology Major, Chemistry Minor
Joey Knutson '14 is interning with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
in Richland, Washington, where he is working on a project that studies how Twitter
is used during natural disasters and terrorist events. He analyzes the change in people's sentiment on Twitter over the duration of one of these events. He spends his days sifting through millions of tweets per event and researching the reasons for the trends in his data. He is working on two separate papers and a presentation to be given to the scientists at his lab by the end of his internship.
How did you learn about this opportunity? Did anyone from Knox play a role?
I found this internship through online searches about Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internships for psychology. I definitely had help from the Career Center learning about searching for internships and about writing resumes and cover letters. I also got two letters of recommendation from Frank McAndrew and Mike Prentice of the Psychology Department.
Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom experiences at Knox have benefited you in the internship?
The classes that have been the most helpful are the two psychology research methods classes I have taken and the upper level psychology classes that included conducting experiments in groups. While not many specific theories that I have learned have carried over into this internship, knowing the general strategies and practicing the skills needed for conducting research and analyzing data has been extremely useful.
How do you think this internship experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?
The project I am working on has given me the chance to utilize a lot of what I have learned in a new setting and on a larger scale. As far as future career plans, I know this internship has given me a lot of experience that will be helpful in graduate school or a job after Knox. I have also gotten to see what it would be like to be a full-time researcher, and have gotten to network with a number of scientists at the lab.
What programs or people have provided any grants, funding, or financial assistance for your internship?
The Department of Homeland Security paid for my airfare as well as a stipend for the summer. The lab here also gave me partial reimbursement for housing.
What do you expect to learn from your internship by its completion?
Even though I really enjoy academics at Knox, it has been really beneficial to work at a place that has such a different academic perspective. Almost everyone I work with focuses on the STEM fields, and there are an abundance of computer scientists and engineers here. These aren't the most popular fields at Knox, and I didn't realize how useful something like computer science was until I came here and saw what they do all day. It has been really cool to see how many careers exist that I had never known about before this internship. In addition, I have learned a lot about what a career in research would be like and about the educational paths many people took to get into this type of career.