Vibrant, super-smart and caring: these are just a few of the qualities that describe the dozens of interdisciplinary researchers at I-LABS. Their innovative ideas and technological savviness help drive the Institute's reputation as a world leader in child development and brain science.
And their kindness, professionalism and sense of humor greet all of the hundreds of families that volunteer each year for studies at I-LABS.
In the "People of I-LABS" series, we get to know the research scientists, post-doctoral fellows and other researchers who make up the elite team at I-LABS. This month, we shine the spotlight on Sam Gil-Vargas, a summer intern and Mary Gates scholar.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Where do you come from? What is your position at ILABS?
I am from Yakima, WA but I was actually born in Mexico City and moved to the States when I was four years old. I am a rising senior at UW, and my major is Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE). My passion is UX design, and my summer internship at I-LABS will focus on bilingualism.
What's your most significant career/academic accomplishment so far?
I am very interested in outreach and teaching young kids new things. Over spring break I was a part of a pilot outreach program with UW’s HCDE department. We had the opportunity to go to Neah Bay to teach middle school students the concept of Design Thinking and how they can use that to create a prototype app.
You received a prestigious award this summer. Can you tell us about that?
I found out about the Mary Gates scholarship program thorough one of my academic advisers. There were 9 programs being held for this summer and instantly I was drawn to this program because of its focus on bilingualism. The application was pretty long but worthwhile because it allowed me to reflect on why this program would be beneficial to me and how I could aid in the program's goals.
I received an offer to participate in the program without having to interview with Naja first which was pretty awesome. Now, I am technically a Mary Gates scholar and throughout this summer I will be participating in weekly seminars to help in my future as a researcher. Some things we have touched on are ethics in research and how to write effectively as a researcher. I'm looking forward to learning more from our guest speakers and getting acquainted with fellow interns in the various other summer programs!
What do you look forward to about working at I-LABS?
I am looking forward to meeting my research team and working closely with them this summer! I am excited to learn more about bilingualism. Being bilingual myself, I think the ability to speak two languages is a very valuable skill, and should be made accessible to other individuals.
What’s something we might not know about you?
Last summer I spent 3 weeks in Tokyo, Japan and it was absolutely amazing! I am also an avid runner since I ran all throughout my high school career in both track and cross country.