All News

Summer Internships: Olivia Colace '25

July 26, 2023
Olivia looking into a microscope

Name: Olivia Colace
Class Year: 2025
Major: Linguistics
Hometown: Los Altos, CA

Internship Organization: Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine
Job Title: Intern
Location: Stanford, CA

What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

I’m interning for a clinical hematopathologist, which is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing blood-related diseases and disorders. My boss, in particular, is an expert in lymphoma and leukemia. My research project focuses on the expression of a particular biomarker in a type of lymphoma called follicular lymphoma. This work involves collecting and sorting tissue samples, subsequently building tissue assays, examining this tissue assay under the microscope, computational analysis, and finally, writing a paper to be published in a scientific journal. I also built a tissue assay that will be used in other research projects that are investigating the variants of another type of lymphoma. Some days I work in the hospital in the pathology department and others, I’ll be at the lab. And I’m always reading papers!

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was introduced to my boss Yaso Natkunam ’87, by another Bryn Mawr alum, Isabel Cunningham ’68. I thought that we clicked well, and she suggested the possibility of me coming to work in her lab. As a pre-med student, I was interested to learn more about pathology and get a better idea of what it’s like day-to-day to be a pathologist. I was also excited at the prospect of conducting cancer research, which is a new field for me. As it so happens, I’ve already worked on the biomarker we’re investigating in the context of infectious disease, so I was eager to apply my knowledge to cancer.

Olivia in a lab building a tissue microarray.
Building a tissue microarray.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

I always get so excited looking at samples under the microscope! Even just opening up the box and seeing the collection of slides within is exciting — I think it stems from the anticipation of what we’ll find. Pathologists are like medical detectives. My boss is teaching me so much about pathology, and it’s so rewarding when I can identify something in a sample on my own. It’s also been fun to talk about Bryn Mawr with my boss — she has a lantern mug in her office, and she wants to show me her actual lantern too! She told me all about the biology faculty when she was there and the research and fellowship opportunities that she got through Bryn Mawr, which ultimately brought her to where she is today. It’s a special thing to share, to know when something is just “so Bryn Mawr!” More importantly, it is so meaningful to contribute to research that may make a difference in cancer patients’ lives. The biomarker we’re investigating has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat particular cancers, and the other projects I’ve contributed to may change diagnostic categorizations and treatment guidelines in another type of lymphoma and its variants.

Can you talk about the skills you are learning and why they are important to you?

I’m learning so many new laboratory skills, most notably how to build a tissue microarray (TMA). I even learned new ways to perform skills I’ve already learned that are more efficient and environmentally friendly. These are skills I will continue to use as a researcher. The pathology knowledge and identification skills I’m learning are, first of all, fascinating to me but also highly useful as a future medical professional. In the nearer future, I’m taking immunology in the spring — the knowledge I’ve learned during the summer not only gives me a little head start but also makes me excited to dive even deeper into my studies at Bryn Mawr.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.