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Scholar Highlights For Week Ending June 21, 2013

September 5, 2013


The longer I stay here in Germany I grow more in love with the country. Europe as a whole is a beautiful place. It is full of so much diversity and many interesting people. Thinking back on what my preconceived notions about the country were and looking at my currents perspective of it is very interesting. I find myself learning more and wanting to do more as each day goes on. I am learning what a privilege it is to be able to go abroad and have something to compare home to. I have learned about so many things I valued that I can live without and how to compromise. I have seen some of the so many ways that people are different yet I am learning to appreciate the beauty of basic essence of humanity- How we all want to live happy, meaningful lives of purpose and love. People are just people.


Kevona Belcher


This week was extremely long but went by quickly at the same time, if that makes any sense.  It was challenging in the fact that my main mentor wasat the COST UBIOCHEM conference which is a conference that truly tries to focus on the “Sustainable production of fuels/energy, materials & chemicals from biomass.”  This conference is extremely important to the research that our lab is conducting.


We went to Robben Island after returning from the garden route trip. I was excited about visiting the island where so many political activists were jailed during apartheid and to learn more about the island. On the ferry ride to the island we watched a video about how Robben Island was founded has an island to place people who had been exiled. I was surprised to find out that the first inhabitants other than the people living there in exile were the Irish. During the potato famine some migrated to Robben Island.

Coleman and Brown on a mountain

Niwa & Kierra


I stayed in my very first hostel, which was equipped with a local beach, fire pit and bar. I had a wonderful time meeting the other students and becoming more acquainted with the new atmosphere.  The next day consisted of canoeing, hiking visiting a Rastafarian community, and elephant sanctuary. Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to ride an elephant, and this weekend I was able to accomplish my goal!



I found myself reading reflections from prior GSTEM students about their experiences and words of advice. Patience is one aspect that I certainly agree with, both in the lab and out in the streets of Spain. Socially, being immersed in another language can be difficult, stressful and often lonely, especially when you are a people person like me. However, the passive thing to do would be to fall back and let the experience of being in a world unlike your own pass you by. It is so easy to stay in my room, post pictures on social websites and text and talk to my friends at home because they understand me, but what good is that? They’re not the ones in another country living the life that others dream of. I actually feel that modern technology steals time from abroad experiences, so being abroad is not as appreciated anymore.


We met Arcadia staff and learned more about the city of London and surrounding countries that were at our reach. I was so fascinated by how many attractions surrounded us and how little time we have to visit all of them. After our introduction to London, they sent us on a “scavenger hunt” around the city of London. This “scavenger hunt” allowed us to discover how to use the Tube station to access different parts of the city and to just get familiar with our surroundings. After the scavenger hunt, we decided to do some exploring on our own. We visited famous landmarks such as Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the famous Covent Garden where street performers amaze pedestrians. Our evening ended with a meal at “Nandos” and good conversation about what we all expect to gain from this wonderful experience. 

Rachel phonebooth



Upon arriving at the London Heathrow Airport around 7:00 am, my anxiety was overruled by my excitement! Acknowledging that I had never left my country until that moment encouraged me to practice reminding myself to keep an open and accepting mind. Within the first two days of being in London I realized that people of all nationalities, styles and personalities reside there. This understanding allowed me to overcome a few unsettling feelings regarding my style and sense of dress. To some, my attire appeared to be formal and upscale; of which was helpful in professional settings. 


As a biology major I spend a majority of my research inside in a lab.  I enjoy what I do, but I also want to explore other options and see what I am capable of doing.  Tropical ecology and conservation is not something I have much experience studying, but I am willing to learn more about it.  I truly believe that this experience is helping me grow educationally and mentally.  I have seen and learned so much already.  There are definitely some days where I don’t feel like participating, but of course I do everything there is to do.  

Tayler in forest



Asha garden


The orientation and dinner with our program manager was delightful, and I got to experience my first ride on the tube. That trip was marked the start of the recognition of my new surrounding. The people were fast moving, on the go, and very focused in their own lives. It reminded me so much of different. I realized that the customer isn’t offered as much as in America. Here you can’t expect it to be given to you, you have to ask for it. New York. Even in the pizzeria that we went to for dinner, the serving process was so much 


This past week was very productive. I finally got my electrospinning induction which would allow me to start spinning meshes for the lab. Compared to my lab in Atlanta, there are many more different types of electrospinning than the one type we use in our lab


Brittany on prayer wall


Class has been very interesting as well. As I previously stated, I did not get into the class that I aimed for but I am still very satisfied. Both of my teachers are amazing! Initially beginning the class I thought four hours was going to be dreadful but majority of the time I do not even realize how much time has passed. Also, I am enjoying learning so much about the culture.

Brittany and DeShawn

Brittany and DeShawn




My first actual day in the lab, Thursday, was great. A master’s gave me a brief overview of the techniques and explanations of the solutions they used. She was very welcoming to any questions I had and was always making sure I understood what was going on. I really enjoyed watching her demonstrate what I would soon be doing. I knew then that I was really going to enjoy the project. Along with enjoying the project, it was obvious that I was going to have a great time in London. I am very happy that I was able to be a part of the program.


This week wasn’t nearly as exciting as my first two weeks in Córdoba but it was exceptional, nonetheless. This past weekend, I my first opportunity to participate in the Cultural Immersion Program of the Summer Research Program. At first, I did not want to participate because I was tired from a frustrating Friday in the lab; but since I signed up for the Cultural Immersion portion of the program I decided it would be best to change my mindset. Luckily, the set meeting place, “Tendillas Square,” is literally down the street from my house, so that was further motivation to participate.


This has been an interesting week. A lot of ups and downs but I have made it through.  This week has taught me a lot about perseverance. This has and will be one of the most impactful experiences of my life. I am learning so much about both myself and my surroundings.


I learned more about data analysis. Using my data from the previous week’s dissections, I learned how to categorize cells using a program called Flow Jo. At first, the program was a bit confusing to use. I had trouble identifying which part of the graph to highlight for analysis. But after a couple tries, I got a better understanding of the program.  By the end of the week, I was able to help one of the workers analyze a lot of data for her thesis.  Overall, I have really been enjoying my time here in Spain.


The techniques I will be using are cell culture, making protein extracts for western blotting, western blotting, characterizing, and cloning recombinant DNA. I am really excited about learning how to 



really look forward to working with him over the next six weeks.clone recombinant DNA because this is a new skill to me. My lab mentor seems like a nice guy and I


On that following Sunday a couple girls from Arcadia and I went to a Spanish church together, just to see how it would be.  The particular church we attended had a Bible study class for the youth rather than an actual church service.  I really enjoyed this because I was able to listen and learn different interpretations of the Bible from a different point of view and in a different language.  .

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