Jadon Gomez-Stafford is a rising sophomore at the University of Connecticut studying Mechanical Engineering.
Working with mentor Kim Heard, Associate Director of Research Operations, Jadon’s summer internship enabled him to work every day alongside almost the entire breadth of research infrastructure across West Campus.
“I’ve been meeting so many new people, all working together to advance science,” he says, “it has been so exciting to explore the campus.”
Research operations connects all the components necessary to operate laboratories at West Campus - from the initial design and build of new labs, to the purchasing and maintenance of high-value laboratory equipment, regulatory requirements, and monitoring environmental risks and quality control.
One of his projects involved designing and planning the construction of a new space that will be home to a scanning tunneling microscope. The new microscope enables users to capture images of metal surfaces at an atomic level, helping researchers at across Yale characterize and learn about materials.
Jadon heard about the West Campus internship through a career’s fair hosted by New Haven Promise, a scholarship program that supports students with career development and job opportunities.
“It was a project involving robotic turtles that first caught my eye, but I was really interested to learn about all of the labs and research at West Campus,” enthused Jadon. He has gone on to assist with a constructing project creating new lab spaces for Rebeca Kramer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, who studies robotic limbs that resemble those of turtles and tortoises.
“Talking to researchers and learning about what they do is a big part of my internship experience,” says Jadon, “so communication skills have been a really important part of the job.” Over two months his network has grown to include core directors, grad students and postdocs, undergraduate researchers, and the staff of West Campus administration.
“I now count them all as my friends,” he says.
Being able to sample a variety of work environments has also helped Jadon figure out his next education and career goals. Some things he really enjoyed, while other aspects were less appealing. “Spending time out of the office and in the labs meeting new people in the field of materials science was a really great experience and something I hope to explore in future coursework,” he says.
The nature that surrounds the West Campus was an unexpected bonus to working on the West Campus. “My favorite spots on campus are the trails and the barn. It was great to have the opportunity to get away and feel connected to nature. It’s easy to get lost in a city like New Haven, so I’ve enjoyed getting to know a different side of Yale.”
Outside of his work, Jadon is a fan of sci-fi TV shows, and enjoys surprising his family by cooking meals and baking. He also enjoys travelling around New England.
Jadon was speaking to Dani Flores, Yale ‘25, who participated in a summer internship in communications at Yale’s West Campus through the New Haven Promise Program.