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Student Focus

V&E Majors Pioneer New Internship in Portugal

By Brynn Wilkins

Many undergraduate students do an internship at some point to gain valuable work experience and insight into their prospective industry. These internships take place largely during the summer and are mostly optional. Undergraduate students in the Viticulture & Enology program, however, have a unique degree requirement to complete at least one internship.

Lauren Marigliano leaning on a gas tank in a vineyard a PhD student from the University of Porto.
Lauren Marigliano with Ines Cabral (PhD student from the University of Porto)

Cornell V&E students take full advantage of this opportunity to attain practical experience and apply the concepts they’ve learned in class. Furthermore, some will even travel internationally to gain perspective and insight into the international winemaking and grape growing industries.

During the summer of 2019, Lauren Marigliano ‘20 and Julia Schwartz ‘21, two V&E undergrads, did just that. Lauren and Julia pioneered a new partnership with the University of Porto in Portugal and the CALS Global Fellows Program, a competitive and fully-funded international summer internship program dedicated to providing students with a platform to make definable contributions to global organizations and communities.

While interning in Portugal, Lauren and Julia assisted in projects at Green UPorto, a research center within the University of Porto.

Lauren Marigliano kneeling next to grapevines, using a pressure chamber to take leaf water potential measurements
Lauren Marigliano collecting leaf water potentials

Under the supervision of Prof. Jorge Queiroz and Inês Cabral, Lauren and Julia analyzed the effect on forcing wine regrowth for Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, two traditional port wine cultivars. This research included techniques such as operating a Scholander pressure bomb (for measuring vine water status), sampling vine vigor and composition by using the point-quadrat sampling method, measuring foliar area, and pruning vines.

To put their work into a broader perspective, Lauren noted that “collecting these measurements was part of data collection for various irrigation trials in the Douro Valley, which are looking to understand how much water will be needed to keep vines healthy in an increasingly dry desert climate.”

Lauren Marigliano, smiling in front of a Portuguese tile mosaic

In addition to gaining valuable internship and research experience, their supervisors also ensured that Lauren and Julia were immersed in the rich Portuguese culture. Lauren and Julia both commented that a highlight of their stay was spending 3 days at a Wintour Wine Tourism program for master’s students. The program consisted of tours of famous port cellars, port wine museums, lectures, tastings, and a cruise along the Douro River.

By pursuing international internships, students have the unique opportunity to expand professional knowledge in a global setting. For Lauren, “the fieldwork and the research was enriching, but the experience of simply being abroad helped to improve personal skills like adjusting to a new work environment or navigating foreign cities to succeed in both school and the workplace.”

“Overall, my research experience in Portugal further strengthened my conviction to attend graduate school for viticulture research, and helped develop the personal and academic skills required to be successful in both research and the winegrowing industry.”

Brynn Wilkins is coordinator of the undergraduate Viticulture and Enology major, and is based in the department of food science at Cornell.