2021 Summer Intern Report: Kimball Sheehan & Darrah Sheehan

Kimball Sheehan

Kimball Sheehan
University of Virginia, Class of 2025

Darrah Sheehan
Western Albemarle High School, Class of 2022

Optimizing Internet-Based Electronic and Email Outreach Regarding Focused Ultrasound: Facilitating Broader Understanding, Reach, and Engagement

Project Overview
The field of focused ultrasound is rapidly developing, and accurate information dissemination to clinicians, scientists, and patients is critical to the progress of the field. This project evaluated how changes to the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s newsletter affected email metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, and read rate. We used Pardot’s A/B Testing feature to study the effects of modifying specific parameters to optimize desired endpoints.

Darrah Sheehan

Project Outcomes
Through an analysis of historical newsletter performances and consumer behavior during A/B testing, we were able to identify several key factors to improve engagement with the newsletter.

Overall, the Foundation’s newsletter is consistent in behavior and high-achieving compared to other non-profit newsletters. The first and second A/B testing sessions – where we evaluated the engagement based upon the sequence of the newsletter’s category sections – revealed that the Foundation’s newsletter subscribers engage more with the research news compared to other category sections. The third A/B testing session confirmed that subscribers respond similarly (1.17% difference in open rate) to lead stories focusing on research news. Finally, the findings of this project concluded that personalization is a necessary step for the Foundation’s newsletter.

Why were you initially interested in working with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation?
Kimball: I have always been fascinated by team-based scientific groups focused on improving the world. I was eager to become involved with the FUSF and combine my interests in STEM and business.

Describe your experience as an intern.
Darrah: My experience as a Foundation intern was very educational and inspiring. Not only did I learn about the consumer behavior of FUSF newsletter recipients, but I also learned about the extremely promising field of focused ultrasound and its ability to save lives. I am truly grateful that I was able to have such an enriching experience.

What was the most important learning point of your internship experience?
Kimball: The most important learning point of my internship experience was adapting to unexpected results. Some A/B Testing sessions did not go completely according to my hypothesis, and I learned to begin asking questions and embracing this uncertainty rather than helplessly puzzling over it.

Has your internship affected your career plans? If so, how?
Darrah: Throughout my high school years, I have primarily focused time outside of school on scientific and engineering activities. However, I have always had an interest in business because of its frequent connection with the science field. This internship has confirmed to me that I will enjoy studying in a combined engineering and business program during my undergraduate years.

What is one tip that you would give 2022 summer interns?
Darrah: I would recommend that 2022 summer interns take the time to get to know the other interns and employees at the Foundation because you can learn something from each person.

Kimball: Go to the Friday lunches and really get to know the Foundation staff. They are all wonderful and kind people who genuinely want to see you succeed.