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Northwestern State student lands internship studying BP oil spill at Columbia University

Northwestern State University

A Northwestern State University student is preparing for a prestigious summer internship at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York. Christina Palomo of Los Angeles will travel from Natchitoches to New York later this month to help Columbia scientists study the environmental consequences of the 2010 BP oil spill. The biology major said she’ll work alongside two geochemists.

“We’re looking to study the fate of the hydrocarbons from the oil," Palomo said. "We want to better understand the characteristics of the carbon and hydrogen bonds to see if there’s a way to break it up and break the oil that’s still pretty heavy in the Gulf Coast."

Palomo will join about two dozen interns from research-focused institutions. She said perhaps they chose her because she attends college in Louisiana. This research project is already close to her heart. She said during the BP oil spill she felt helpless, and started an environmental group in her high school to care for nearby beaches. Palomo hopes to be able to continue the data gathering and research after the internship ends in August.

“I could really bring it back to Louisiana and continue working the research here because the oil spill is so close," Palomo said.

Meanwhile, she hopes the Columbia internship will give her a leg up when she applies to combined medical school and Ph.D. programs later this year. She said the internship is all-expenses-paid and includes a $5,000 stipend.