NREL Interns of 2023 Share Appreciation for Their Mentors

Dec. 5, 2023 | By Jackson Fletcher | Contact media relations

A large group of interns stand with Lab Director Martin Keller and Secretary Granholm.
The honorable Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy, stands with interns from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)  during her visit to NREL for an expansion celebration in Golden, Colorado. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL

Every year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) hosts hundreds of interns within various departments across the laboratory. While at NREL, interns work on diverse projects and specialties, but they all have one thing in common: They rely on a mentor to get the most out of their internships.

Mentors have a vital responsibility to ensure the success of an internship program. They help interns navigate daily life at the laboratory, teach them new skills, and help them make the most of the knowledge they have gained in their studies. 

As each summer winds down, NREL asks its interns to reflect on the time they have spent with their mentors and, if they choose, recognize the impact their mentors made on their internship experience.

Recognizing NREL’s Outstanding Mentors

This year, more than 60 interns submitted slides sharing why they appreciate their mentors. Below are 10 examples that embody what it means to be a good mentor.

Renewable Resources and Enabling Sciences

Ashutosh Mittal, mentor to summer intern Calysta Ownby:

“What truly stands out about my mentor is how passionate and excited he is about the work he does and how much he wants to share his knowledge with me,” Ownby said. “He’s always willing to talk through the projects and encourages me to gain as much as I can from the experience, not just in his lab, but with other projects and events happening in NREL. I’m really glad I came here!”

Materials Science

Deborah McGott, mentor to summer intern Alexa Zaback:

“[McGott] embodies the essence of mentorship,” Zaback said. “She takes the time and care to improve my professional skill set as well as makes me feel comfortable and confident in the science community.”

Power Systems Engineering

Ramanathan Thiagarajan, mentor to summer intern Francesca Giardine:

“The time and energy Ram puts in to introducing me to people, meeting with me, discussing our goals, and ensuring that I feel valued has made this summer incredible. I’d really like to see him recognized for that,” Giardine said.

Building Technologies and Science Center

Paul Meyer, mentor to summer intern Bernadette Magalindan:

“[Meyer] trained me to think analytically about my data and keep the big picture in mind, which has helped me make wiser decisions in my experiments,” Magalindan said. “They are always patient when explaining details that I have trouble grasping at first.”

Chemistry and Nanoscience

Trevor Martin, mentor to summer intern Erika Hunting:

“Trevor makes time to meet with me every day,” Hunting said. “Sometimes, we spend the entire day together in the lab going through everything I need to know together so there are no gaps in my knowledge. Mentorship is a top priority for Trevor, and I have not gone a day feeling like the intern in the corner.”

Chemistry and Nanoscience

Maria Kelly, mentor to summer intern Rachel Wnuk:

“Maria’s guidance, seemingly endless knowledge, and timely dad-joke delivery have made this internship invaluable,” Wnuk said. “Her kindness and care in seeing me succeed have made me feel a part of the community here at NREL, and I am so grateful she took me under her wing. Thank you, Maria!”

Computational Science

Xiangyu Zhang, mentor to summer intern Zain ul Abdeen:

“Xiangyu has wealth of knowledge and experience, which he shares unreservedly,” ul Abdeen said. “He shows remarkable dedication to our relationship by prioritizing our scheduled meetings and being accessible whenever I'm in need of urgent advice or guidance.”

Computational Science

Patrick Emami, mentor to summer intern Truc Nguyen:

“Patrick came up with a concrete and detailed plan that is tailored to what I want to do during this internship,” Nguyen said. “He is very patient and always makes sure that I get to work on what I want and that I can maximize my potential. When I face any obstacles during my research, he always goes out of his way to help me.”

Computational Science

Nick Wunder, mentor to summer intern Gunn Jungpaibul:

“Nick is both brilliant and a wonderful teacher,” Jungpaibul said. “He has the rare ability of translating difficult, abstract concepts into something even I can understand.”

Integrated Mobility Sciences

Josh Major, mentor to summer intern Julian Calder:

“Josh has been invaluable in helping me think about and explore possible next steps in my professional career,” Calder said. “Josh has gone above and beyond to ensure that I am having a valuable and fulfilling internship experience, frequently checking in with me to ensure I am happy with the work that I am doing and that I understand the importance of it."

Tags: Awards