Santiago Internship Stories: Meet the Sophomore Researching Mental Health During Covid-19

August 18, 2020

Columbia College sophomore Victoria Comunale is working through the Santiago Center’s internship program at The Millennium Institute for Depression and Personality Research (MIDAP), a center of psychologists, psychiatrists, and professionals generating knowledge based on the connection between personality and depression.

Working with Alex Behn-Berliner, director of research at MIDAP, and two other Columbia interns, Edmund Kim and Helena Cirne, Comunale’s role on the team is to gather and translate resources for MIDAP’s papers on their longitudinal study, which followed about 200 people for 35 days to analyze the effects of Covid-19 on people’s mental wellbeing. As a group, the interns are also working on their own paper analyzing the pandemic’s effects on parenting.

Comunale has found this internship rewarding as MIDAP’s operations and areas of study allow her to explore her fascination with psychology. This experience has taught her how to conduct research and publish papers, and she would like to continue work of this nature in the future. She is especially grateful to have met so many people in and beyond the Columbia community, saying, “It’s really amazing to be able to connect with people thousands of miles away, which is an opportunity that has uniquely presented itself during this pandemic and probably would not have been able to happen otherwise.”

At Columbia, she is planning to major in Biochemistry and concentrate on Hispanic Studies. She is passionate about the sciences and social justice, which she hopes to incorporate into a future career. Comunale is originally from San Diego, California, and in her free time she likes to paint, draw, listen to podcasts, and bake.