Kristine Lai

Research Intern

Kristine Lai is a research intern at the United States Studies Centre.

What is your educational background?

I am currently a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and the Biological Basis of Behavior. I also plan on minoring in Healthcare Management and Statistics. This stems from a fascination with the sciences, and a desire to work in an interdisciplinary field. By concentrating in healthcare, I am able to bring together my studies in neuroscience and my interest in policy and the social sciences. Ultimately, I hope to combine my skills and my passions in the field of business in order to help people.

What have you been working on in your time here at the USSC?

My experience with my internship at the United States Studies Centre is unique. At first glance, the internship is completely unrelated to my major back at Penn. In the beginning, I felt that cognitive neuroscience could not be further from the international relations work done at the USSC. However, recently I’ve begun to consider pursuing a career that brings together science and business. In that sense, my time at USSC has been perfect for me. I have had the opportunity to help with research on trade and investment in Southeast Asia, Australian energy and economic reports, and innovation measurements between the United States and Australia. Being involved has given me a range of knowledge, from venture capitalism in Australia to ASEAN global policy. Constant immersion in research means that I have not stopped absorbing new things.

Furthermore, the work of the USSC is incredibly diverse, allowing me the chance to become familiar with various fields. My internship has challenged me, introduced me to new topics, encouraging me to learn as I worked. I am positive that what I’ve learned during my internship will help with what I want to do in the future.

What is it like living in Sydney?

Living in Sydney has gone beyond my expectations; it is utterly metropolitan, but access to nature is also readily available. With opportunities to hike through the Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park, and visit beaches such as Bondi and Coogee, I’ve found myself amongst spectacular views. And yet, Sydney as a city is so immersed in different cultures that there is constantly something to do within urban life — I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it all before I leave! The relaxed pace of life has taught me to take a deep breath and pause for a moment. Though I’m only here for a few months, Sydney and the USSC have been everything I could have expected and wanted from a global internship experience.

What do you hope to do with your experience from the USSC?

What I’ve come to realise is that the United States Studies Centre especially values differences in opinions and experience. By working at a place that wants to hear the unpopular or strange opinions, I’ve also learned to value my own voice. Particularly as a young American, I’ve gained an international perspective to my own opinions and international issues. Not only has this experience at the USSC helped push me in the direction I want my career to go, it has also solidified my desire to work on an international platform, interacting with cultures and people from around the globe.