Rafael de Souza, Merck & Co., Inc.

Name: Rafael de Souza
Host Institution: New York University
Academic Training Site: Merck & Co., Inc.
Field of Study: Chemical Engineering

During my Academic Training, I was a Vaccine Process Development Intern at Merck Research Labs. Under the supervision of tremendously skilled people, I investigated the problem of growing human cells attached to microcarriers for the production of viral vaccines in suspended reactors. Some of my responsibilities included performing vast review of the available literature, utilizing basic engineering concepts from fluid mechanics and mass transfer to understand the suitability of the reactor environment for the growth of human cells, collaboration with other groups, in areas such as Computational Fluid Dynamics as well as many other daily tasks.


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Rafael with other Merck interns


Definitely the best part of my AT experience was being able to work so closely with brilliant professionals, who challenged me every day in order to obtain the maximum result within my potential and helped me obtain results I would not be able to reach by myself. It was also a chance to work toward a very gratifying goal, which is the development of a vaccine. The opportunity to share my opinion and expertise in the development of a technology that could improve millions of lives was something I really aim to repeat.

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Rafael hanging out with his roommates (other Merck interns) from Washington D.C., Ireland, and India

The most important thing I learned during my AT was the value of a good presentation. The proper way to present the results you obtain is just as important as the data and conclusions you develop. I worked on my slides and reports for the last two weeks of my assignment. That helped me to find missing information, mistakes or misinterpretations of different phenomena. That was, no doubt, a great lesson shared by Chris Gercke and Roberto Ortiz, my co-workers who worked closely with me.

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Rafael with his co-worker, Chris Gercke

During my AT, I discovered a new area of study, which I am in love with. I got really excited about the human cell culture world and I intend to continue to expand my knowledge in this area while I can. I would, for sure, like the chance to work with a group in Brazil that works with a related problem. I feel that I am a more complete professional after this experience and it has, with no shadow of doubt, changed the course of my professional and academic life.

To connect with Rafael on LinkedIn, click here.