The Science Exchange

Program Reviews

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Diana Rubi
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Science exchange program (Sea turtles internship)

his program was an amazing experience.

It gave the chance to work with a vulnerable Sea turtle specie ("Golfina") and I could understand how important is to support this kind of wildlife conservation programs.

I had the privilege to write a scientific paper related to nesting techniques. Even it was published on a bilingual and international magazine.

It helped me to improve my CV.
As a Veterinarian I want to continue my studies with this particular animal.

The program also immerses you into a multicultural experience

Pros
  • If you are student or graduate is a good experience to build your CV
  • Language practice
  • Cultural exchange
Cons
  • If you don't stand nature ( mosquitos, bad weather) is not for you
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Joshua
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Reef Fishes and Corals in Akumal, Mexico

My experience was unique because I was able to work with fishes and corals on an academic venture. Future travelers should not worry about the area being unsafe, but they should know introductory Spanish if staying for a long amount of time. Additionally, be crafty with your food if you have no reliable, cheap way of going out of town - there is no large grocery store in Akumal. Don't go if you don't care for "beach life" (snorkeling, swimming, nighttime parties, etc.). Everyone in town is nice, but don't pet the dogs.

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Jack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Science Exchange

The Science Exchange is truly a unique experience. Getting the opportunity to study sea turtles on a beautiful remote beach for two months is a once in a lifetime experience and one that has everlasting memories. I was lucky enough to be an intern for The Science Exchange during the summer of 2019. During this time, I was helping to conduct research on Hawksbill Sea Turtles just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was by far one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. Getting to work so closely with the animals and making a meaningful difference was only part of that made that summer so special. The friends I made, experiencing the culture, and getting to know the people within the small village was just as rewarding as the research itself. I highly recommend this program and my only regret is not staying longer!

Pros
  • Great and unique research experience. Can get up close with the animals you are studying
  • Connect with a variety of different people from different backgrounds
  • Experience a new culture and way of life
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Marek
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I enjoyed every second

I enjoyed every second beeing an intern. I have met so many amazing people. You all made me the happiest vet student EVER! Thank you!The Science Exchange is an amazing program that has opened many doors for me. A participation is a great way to gain some unique knowledge, experiences. I am so glad I did it.
If given the chance, I recommend everybody to visit the CIIDIR (Instituto Politécnico Nacional) in Guasvave and to meet its inspiring and dedicated scientists, there is so much to learn from them.

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Jose
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Science Exchange Sea Turtle Program

My time at the Science Exchange represented one of the best learning experiences of my academic and personal life. The program surpassed all my expectations. It allowed me to grow as a scientist within a real-world conservation project, while also offering much enrichment in the way of cultural and linguistic exchange. Coordinators were flexible and understanding of our needs as interns, which made the whole experience even more welcoming. Furthermore, the program gave me the opportunity to grow within a fun, safe and exiting new environment. Importantly, I received sustained mentorship before, while in the program, and after the program was over. This individualized mentorship has continued well after my project was completed. Therefore, I consider myself lucky to still have the opportunity to work and learn from Science Exchange mentors like Dr. Elizabeth Whitman and Katherine Comer Santos. These mentors understand the importance of creating an inclusive research environment which can produce good science as well as qualified and mindful scientists.

My experience with the Science Exchange was positively life-changing; I would encourage anyone with an interest in research, sea turtles or working abroad to join them on the beach!

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Allie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A+ for Akumal

I spent a summer in Akumal, Mexico with The Science Exchange studying the effects of climate change on sea turtle nests. Katherine was a great mentor and available whenever I had questions or problems. The host organization in Akumal, Centro Ecologico Akumal, had a great staff and lots of fun volunteers from all over the world. The dorms had air conditioning and a shared kitchen. Just a two minute walk to the beach. At night we would patrol the beaches for nesting turtles and making sure the nests were protected. We took tourists out for a small donation fee and showed them the nesting process of the turtles, which was awesome for practicing my Spanish. It was one of the best summers of my life. Upon return to the US, Katherine was a great advisor and help during the final stages of the project, paper, and presentation. I highly recommend this program for anyone that wants to explore another part of the world and get out of their comfort zone while working towards a common goal of sea turtle conservation. It's a lot of work and up to the student to collect the research data. This internship is really great for a highly motivated individual, since TSE isn't present during the research. It's up to the student! As a 20 year old, I felt like I was able to grow into a more motivated, prepared, and organized student.

Thanks again for everything The Science Exchange has given me!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing I can think of!
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Laura
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TSE Changed My Life!!

I was a college student looking to do something meaningful with my summer, and randomly stumbled upon The Science Exchange's website. The professional atmosphere of the website and other reviews I read lead me to believe this was a very legitimate program. I applied a little later than most interns but TSE welcomed me with open arms and accepted me to the Bahamas Internship.

A few Skype calls with my soon-to-be-supervisors and some Facebook messages with the fellow interns started my journey, and from the first second I felt like I was at home. We were given scholarship opportunities, an extensive amount of documents and materials to review about life in the Bahamas, where we would be staying, emergency plans, and just about every risk you could ever encounter while traveling internationally. The preparation for this trip was immaculate.

If you're new to field work, a huge component of it is rolling with the punches. Not everything goes exactly as planned because you might have a huge fish that ate all your bait, or the winds have been fighting you and the crew for a few weeks so you can't access a good site, or you get a little homesick.. any problem encountered is one that makes you grow as a scientist and the support system that TSE provided me allowed me to conquer any and all obstacles.

I went into this program expecting a cool resume booster and some awesome pictures. Little did I know, a year later, I am in the process of publishing my own paper on a project I spearheaded during my time in the Bahamas. Whether it was meeting locals and conversing about their way of life, connecting with National Geographic Fellows staying at our research station, working with kids on the island, or hunting down the best conch salad ever, the experience was beyond incredible. I have presented my research, gained lifelong friends, made important connections in the Marine Science field, and overall expanded my horizons and possibilities for myself in this career. I am forever grateful for this program, and I wish I could go back every summer!

What would you improve about this program?
Adding more places to explore!
Response from The Science Exchange

You really excelled when given the opportunity and we are so proud of you!

Liberty Boyd Sea Turtle The Science Exchange
Liberty
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A sHELL of a good time!

The Science Exchange Program has been paramount to my collegiate experience as an undergraduate marine biology major. By fully immersing myself into field work and a new culture, I was able to test my limits and gain a better understanding of not only the marine science field, but of myself as a person.

When first applying to the program, I was impressed by the timely and thoughtful responses from TSE staff, Katherine Comer-Santos and Elizabeth Whitman. These amazing women were able to place me in the best internship for me, which happened to be in Abaco, Bahamas. This was close to home as I am currently living in South Florida and it fit my research interests of in-water sea turtle biology.

At first the cost of the internship was daunting and made me not want to go through with it, but thankfully I was able to get a scholarship through TSE, as well as through my university. With those combined, 80% of the cost was covered and I only had to pay for my plane ticket! Having known what I know now about the internship, I would have gladly paid for it full out of pocket.

During the internship, I learned an astronomical amount of practical skills, including data collection techniques, data software, and statistical analyses. The most rewarding part of the internship was the ability to conduct my own research project. This allowed me to gain the experience of completing a project from start to finish.

The days were long during the internship and I definitely gained a lot of muscle. This internship is definitely hard core and requires a lot of physical work and sweat, but the outcomes made it all worth while. Being able to handle sea turtles and observe them in their natural environment was a dream come true!

We were able to have fun on the side too, like going out to restaurants, exploring the islands, and getting to know some of the locals. At times it almost felt like I was on vacation!

By the end of the internship, I can definitely say I grew both as a scientist and a person. I made life long friendships along with some unforgettable memories. To this day I have been utilizing the connections I have made through networking with other interns and people on the island.

Even after the internship was over, I still was able to participate in various things that would have never happened without this experience. I was able to present a poster on my project at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Las Vegas. I also traveled to the North American Echinoderm Conference in Massachusetts to give an oral presentation on my project.

This opportunity is truly like no other. I can guarantee that if you whole heartedly take advantage of this internship, you will gain more than you could possibly imagine. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made as well as the knowledge I gained during my time in the Bahamas. I implore you to apply to this program while you can and don't waste your time looking for something better because you won't be able to find it!

What would you improve about this program?
The only way this program could be improved is offering a larger variety of internship locations and opportunities.
Response from The Science Exchange

I am so glad our program helped your career and inspired you to continue research by applying to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

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Ryley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Can I go a third time?!

The Science Exchange internship program, was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I was with the first group to go to Abaco, Bahamas instead of latin america for this internship. This internship taught me so much about what it truly means to be a scientist and a marine biologist. From experimental design, turtle tagging, seagrass surveys, drone abundance surveys, baited underwater shark cameras to cultural immersion. I went to Abaco, Bahamas for 3 months helping the WONDERFUL Elizabeth Whitman with her PhD research on juvenile green sea turtles and their interaction with sharks and seagrass.

I loved it so much that I volunteered to go back with her the following summer for 5 weeks. Everyone at TSE was always very helpful and knowledgable if I ever had any questions about anything and Katherine Comer Santos, The director, is truly amazing. She set me up with this internship and I will forever be grateful for that.

I have met friends that will last a lifetime, I have learned skills that continue to help me advance my career and I have made a second home in the Bahamas. What I love about TSE is that it is real science, meaning you are gaining field work experience that looks great on a resume. Yes, that means sometimes things don't go as planned but then you get to problem solve how to fix it which is what actually happens in real life science.

For anyone who is considering an internship with TSE I know it is a heavy price tag, but honestly I would pay ten times that in a heart beat to be able to partake in an internship again. If you are on the fence about it, DO IT!! I promise it will be worth it in the end.

After my first year in Abaco, I went on to present my personal project at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Las Vegas!! I gave an oral presentation on my work that I myself had come up with while interning in the Bahamas. That in itself made every penny worth it.

I will never forget the very first sea turtle I caught "Bahamian Style" there is no way to describe it, so come find out for yourself, chances are I'll see you there!!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would suggest is that people who have not done field work before, don't know exactly what to expect. Detailed explanations of what you will be doing/talking to previous interns would be a great way to relay information.
Response from The Science Exchange

Your oral presentation at the conference was so professional and moving. I cried! Beth really depended on you and your positive attitude and field skills. I hope you do go back and help her next year!

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Shelli
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Grateful for the Experience

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program! Not only did I learn a tremendous amount about sea turtles and the global conservation issues that impact them, but also I had the cultural experiences of living and working in a tropical fishing village, practicing Spanish daily and understanding the cultural traditions that have shaped thinking about conservation issues. Upon returning home, many of my friends and family have commented that they notice a difference in me. I am calmer, clearer, happier, and generally more grounded in my purpose and personal mission. Furthermore, as a direct result of my participation with The Science Exchange Internship Program, I am better equipped to conduct and publish my own research as part of my continued education.

What I observed is the students who arrive with an open mind, participate fully, and see it through to the end can have “life-changing” impact and transformative results from their experiences. This certainly was true for me!!

What would you improve about this program?
Feedback has been provided that setting clearer expectations of students before they arrive in country may be beneficial for some people. This could be done through a series of videos or some other short documentation.