Sai Anwita Chintala: The New Intern At The University of Arizona

Sai Anwita Chintala: The New Intern At The University of Arizona

High school is the time where we think about what career we want to pursue in and what college we want to attend after our senior year. It’s a time where we make big decisions that have consequential impacts on our future, and five years later, you’ll be thanking yourself for the choice you made, or regret every choice you made within those last five years. But, before I let you descend into an existential crisis, I believe it’s important note that it’s never the end of the world because there’s inspiration everywhere we look. Inspiration motivates us to do the best we can, to go above and beyond, and it stops us from digging a hole into our future. Inspiration can come in any form: a book, a painting, even a person; a person like Sai Anwita Chintala. She’s a senior at ACP High School, which means she’s a member of the Class of 2022, and a member of our school’s badminton team, and she has quite the interest in biology. Sai was selected by the University of Arizona KEYS Research Internship 2021 to participate in the KEYS Research Internship at The University of Arizona last summer. Earlier this year, Sai also participated in Dr. Malak Tfaily’s Genomics Lab to test her hypothesis of how soil depth affects to participate in the KEYS Research Internship at The University of Arizona last summer, and she’ll use the resulting data to predict climate change effects on peatland ecosystems and the necessary measures that need to be taken in order to preserve these resources. Lucky for us, she’s our inspiration for this interview! Take it away, Sai!

Q: Could you tell us more about the internship and the requirements needed to be selected? Is it only seniors or can other grades participate too?

A: KEYS is a unique opportunity for students to explore the various interdisciplinary fields in science research, and for example, master research technique in fields like data science of biomedicine. Through the span of seven weeks, I was able to learn some data science and science literacy skills along with working in a research lab, and ultimately being able to showcase my research. KEYS is not just for seniors. The requirement is to be 16 years or older and an Arizona resident, but I also saw many incoming freshmen from University of Arizona participate in this program, too. You’d also have to have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and have taken a few science classes prior to the program.

Q: What made you want to do this internship? Would it help your future career?

A: I have researched a few summer opportunities, but KEYS was the one that stood out to me because the students really acquire hands-on experience in a lab that is working toward solving a current real-world problem. Although I was not able to physically be on campus, I still felt like it was an ultimate experience as I was able to work in a professional lab setting and really get an undergraduate experience from working in a lab. This program adds a lot of value and experience to my journey so far, which most definitely helps with future opportunities and my career as a whole. But from my side too, the opportunity helped me explore the idea of research through different lenses, and I was able to gain insight into my fields of science.

Q: Did you know anyone else that will be joining you in the internship? Was it just you? Did you make any friends on the internship if there were other people there?

A: At first, I didn’t know any of the students since I was the only intern from our school. However, we had many opportunities to socialize and get to know everyone throughout the internship. For example, at the end of training week, all of 60 members were divided into smaller groups with a group mentor. At the end of the program, our group became really close friends and we had such a fun time together. With all the weekly social, the ice breaker, break time activities we became a big friend group by the end of my seven weeks.

Q: Finally, the most important question of all, what’s your favorite color and why?

A: The most important and the most tricky. I am a huge fan of pastel shades, but if I had to choose only one of them, I would say pastel purple. I feel like this color is so calming and gives me positive vibes, so it has to be my favorite.

Sai has paved the way for more students like her to experiment and test out the waters for not only microbiology, but any type of science. And one of those students can be you! The KEYS 2022 application opens on October 1st, so apply now if you can!