The photo shows a biology lab with labs, equipment and in the background large windows.

Biomedical research abroad

Alyssa Lucas, who will graduate from Penn State Beaver in December with a biology major, went to Stockholm to take a summer class in a research-based biomedical lab. The study abroad program was the first time she had ever traveled internationally.
Summer program in Sweden gives student international experience

Alyssa Lucas might not have felt prepared to travel overseas alone, but she was more than prepared for the academic experience that took her to Sweden over the summer. 
Alyssa, who will graduate in December with a biology major, went to Stockholm to take a summer class in a research-based biomedical lab from May 20 through July 2. She chose to take a summer session so that it did not affect her classes at Penn State Beaver during the academic year. 
Not only had she never traveled internationally, Alyssa had never even been on a plane. While she found the experience “overwhelming,” she said she successfully navigated her travels. 
“My first plane flight ever was from Boston to Iceland to Sweden,” she said. “I never had an experience like it before. I was kind of in over my head. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Really.” 
She said learning how to grocery shop, prepare meals and live with roommates were also new experiences. As a commuter, she said she has not lived on her own.  
The academic experience at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm “was different,” Alyssa said. “I did learn some new lab techniques.” 
She said most of her instructors were from Spain and her main instructor was from Mexico, so the international experience was even broader.  
Alyssa said she was in class with students from several large universities, but she felt like she was more prepared and had a better foundation for the coursework and lab work than some of her peers. 
“I really grew appreciation for a small campus like this,” Alyssa said of Penn State Beaver. 
Dr. Stephanie Cabarcas-Petroski, associate teaching professor of biology, is Alyssa’s adviser.  
“I was so glad to hear that Alyssa felt extremely prepared for her experience and had the foundation needed for success,” Carbarcas-Petroski said. “With our small class environments and low faculty-to-student ratio, we really have the ability to help our students engage in ways that other learning environments may not find feasible. To see a student implement their knowledge and use these advantages outside of our campus is wonderful.” 
Carbarcas-Petroski said she encourages students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities when they can. 
“The experience of engaging in an educational experience that we can't provide at Beaver allows the students to strengthen their understanding of how science is collaborative, multi-disciplinary and global,” she said. “The scientific community is a global community, and a study abroad experience is a great way to truly understand that.”   
Alyssa said she plans to attend graduate school with the ultimate goal of becoming a pathology assistant, which is someone who examines “everything removed from surgery,” such as cysts and biopsy tissue.