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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending June 8, 2012

June 11, 2012


“Based on the summary of my first week I must say that my winter here in South Africa thus far most definitely started off with a bang. I love my time here and I am looking forward to the actual lab bench work that I will begin next week. I am researching the microbial diversity of the deep subsurface life in the South African mine environment. Particularly, I am looking at the thermophiles involved in the deep subsurface life through an integrated scientific lens allowing me to see science beyond the bench and below the surface. It is most definitely outside the scope of what I could have ever imagined…”

G-STEM Scholars in Brazil


Some observations by Antonia during her first week in Bahia, Brazil.

  • Their speed limit is in km/hr.
  • They have Mcdonalds, but it is very expensive.
  • During their wintertime it’s sunny during the day and the temperature drops a little at night.
  • A lot of palm trees and trees bearing fruit.
  • Cars are really basic brands (kia, chevy, fiat, Toyota).
  • People have bikes and love biking.
  • They love natural/curly hair, it fascinates them.
  • Fashion here is simple=pretty.
  • There are a lot of bugs!
  • They love animals here.
  • They seem polite and ready to serve you when you go out to eat.
  • Brasillians are born dancing!
  • Food here includes a lot of carbs but its very light and portioned.
  • They seem like very family- oriented and friendly kind hearted people.
  • Brasillian men love women of color”


“Today completes my first week as a G-STEM scholar abroad. After a flight of about 10 hours I arrived in Barcelona, Spain for a layover of 12 hours. Even though layovers don’t seem agreeable, I decided to take advantage of an opportunity venture out of the airport and see a little of the city.

Even though I was worried about the language barrier, I decided to confront my fears and after dropping my bags in a locker, I hopped on a bus and head into the city of Barcelona. While in Barcelona, I took a bus tour of the city with El Turismo Autobus, one of three or four bus tours that I saw. The bus allowed me to see so much of the city and its amazing architecture. My favorite part of the tour was La Sagrada Familia, which translates to The Holy Family. The cathedral is one of the oldest in the city and is absolutely captivating.

As far as research goes, I am studying the molecular male-up of the HER2 protein.  Approximately 25% of breast cancers are categorized as MBC, or Metastatic Breast Cancers. This cancer has been argued as the most aggressive of all types of breast cancer. The reason for the inability to perform apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is due to the over expression of the HER2 protein. My project involves testing different chemical combinations to see which chemicals treat the cancer cells the best.”


Snippets from Jenine’s entry:

  • “After touching down in Spain , I was greeted by a wonderful welcoming committee including Dr. Galvao and my new roommate and fellow researcher from Brazil, Giovanna. While getting adjusted to the fact that I am actually in Europe, I can’t honestly say that my first reaction was that of pure joy. Perhaps it was not because I was unhappy or not excited, but that I was preoccupied with comparing the real Madrid to the vision in my mind and the other places that I have traveled.  Madrid was nothing like I thought it would be. It didn’t resemble my African travels, consisting of mostly rural life with hints of western modernity; and it wasn’t Europe I knew either, which included a fuse between contemporary life and rich tradition…it was different. Maybe too different at first glance, but as my week progressed on , I had the opportunity to know the city of Madrid, which included the urban traditional fuse I was hoping (or had at least seen via photo). However, it was much more than I expected. The city is beautiful!
  • Communication is one of the major keys of life. I never realized the power of being understood or at the least heard until I surrounded by a group of people who honestly could not understand me.  I studied the French language and culture for eight years prior to this journey, therefore my recollection of the Spanish language began and ended with conversational hellos and goodbyes. So even my attempt to communicate was poorly execute.  It is imperative that all Americans learn the languages of the world. These languages include those that are spoken among the world’s population, which include mandarin, French and Spanish. Why? Simply because if you cannot communicate with the world’s people, you cannot survive. While this realization was extremely challenging, it made me develop a sympathetic understanding of the plight that many foreigners face when entering into the United States.
  • I love my lab! I love everything from my projects, to my mentor, to the atmosphere. I have a true passion for environmental engineering. It is a significant factor in me achieving my ultimate purpose in life. In addition, I love the idea of combining creativity, innovation and skill to conqueror a challenge, essentially making textbook knowledge applicable .This summer I will be working with a team of five brilliant scientist and engineers to ultimately optimize both the process and system in which hydrogen gas can be extracted from industrial liquid waste and converted into an energy form.  It’s essentially the beginning steps to creating a larger scale method of mass producing alternative energy through a “cradle to cradle” cycling process. It is truly amazing. It is not a familiar subject, however my passion for the project is propelling me toward not only asking questions, but finding answers.”
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