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HUC Research Internships

Join a virtual research internship program and get connected with the world

The Second Edition of the Online and International Research Internship Program is now open. Organized by the Hemispheric University Consortium (HUC) network, in which Universidad Católica participates along with 13 other universities on the continent, the program aims to facilitate scientific collaboration and international academic experiences.

Person looking at a computer screen.

photo_camera Consider a virtual research internship as a way to prepare to be a researcher in the future.

In 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting mobility restrictions, the Hemispheric University Consortium (HUC) —a partnership of 14 universities in the Americas and the Caribbean, including the UC Chile— organized the first edition of the HUC 2021 Virtual Research Internships.

Twenty-one professors offered 36 virtual internships from five different universities within the network. In addition, more than 30 students from eight universities participated.

After this initial success —some programs received 200 applications beyond the available vacancies— the program is set to be repeated, and  applications are now open.

The main goal is to promote collaboration between professors, researchers, and students in climate change, public health, literature, and mathematics to foster scientific cooperation and international academic experiences.

Cristián Díaz said this is a great opportunity. He is the Director of Global Mobility at the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs (VRAI Spanish acronym). According to him, this new approach to international mobility "has been an innovative opportunity to contribute to the global training of young researchers, share our experience, and enhance the global commitment of our university".

The International Research Coordinator of the Office of the Vice President for Research, Arlette Reyes, explained:

"The experience of having virtual interns through this type of initiative is very enriching for the work of UC Chile professors. It allows them to promote and disseminate their lines of research internationally, which in turn promotes the interest of new generations of students from the HUC network in the universities' postgraduate programs". 

The 2021 Experience: Intercultural Contributions

Two undergraduate students from the UC Chile participated.

Ivanna Leiva, a social sciences' student, did her virtual internship at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador). She worked on the project "Overlapping Cities" by Professor Maria Isabel Diaz, which seeks to re-invent the city of Quito, looking for sustainable solutions to its exponential growth.

The second student was Natalia Albornoz, from the Bachelor of Secondary Education in Sciences and Biology Program. She did her internship at the UC Chile in the "Mapuche Literature" project led by Magda Sepúlveda Eriz, professor of the Faculty of Literature. This program focused on a comparative study between "ethnographic" photographic production and the writing of contemporary Mapuche authors. 

For Professor Sepúlveda, the work of these students and their diverse academic backgrounds contributed to her research. 

"I united literature and botany. I learned about botany and the Inca Trail with the interns," she said.

For example, Natalia Albornoz "interpreted Mapuche poems from how the flora contributes to the processing of senses."

At the same time, Sara Machetts —a history student at Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia— showed her the "architectural aspects of the stations of the Inca Trail" and used this knowledge to interpret a book by Chilean poet Soledad Fariña that contains photos of the trail.

UC Chile professors received nine international students from three universities in the HUC network: five from Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador), two from Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) and two from Universidad de São Paulo (Brazil).

During 2021, the students participated in the following UC Chile projects:

Those involved said

For the faculty, this international experience was enriching.

"It was great to work with students I wouldn't have otherwise met. In my case, from Chile, I was able to work with two students from Ecuador in two different internships, and it was very enriching, both academically and personally," said Professor Eduardo Cerpa, something that Professor Mariana Pascual seconded.

"True to my beliefs regarding internationalization, I participated in the HUC internship program with great enthusiasm and uncertainty. But, today, I know it was the right decision," said Pascual, adding that "it has been an opportunity to make new contacts and friendships and see different views of the world that will transcend the limits of the HUC internship." 

This experience allowed Professor Schott to share experimental results with students from universities on the continent. "Thanks to the results we obtained, my group's students in HUC made great progress in their respective thesis work. As a result, we are in the process of writing two scientific articles, in which the HUC interns have been key," he said. 

For the students, this was also an opportunity they valued.

"I think the experience I gained from my virtual exchange at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile has positively impacted my professional life," said Nicole Recalde. She is an Universidad de San Francisco de Quito student and worked on Professor Cerpa's project. 

"Beyond the topic, which was very interesting and challenging, as it was a bit out of my field of expertise, I learned to read scientific articles, to work under someone else's mentorship and to present a topic I had researched in front of an audience," she added. 

Meanwhile, Jenny Mateus, a student at the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, who was in Professor Schott's internship, said that "the experience of the virtual research internship offered a new perspective of support, where the limitations of face-to-face interaction fade. One of the most valuable aspects [of the internship] was the possibility of sharing with people from other countries who have different experiences and points of view." 

Would you like to participate this year?

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