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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending June 19, 2015

June 25, 2015
Madrid: Courtesy of Krista Montgomery

Madrid: Courtesy of Krista Montgomery

Jett Bagley

In the lab, I’ve made some progress. I’ve gotten my program to receive data from the eye tracker, now I’m working on ways to create a gaze boundary and alert the user if they look outside of the boundary. Also, I’m trying to log gaze coordinates to identify where the user is giving attention. I’m still the only one working on this project but, the professor says after I get the above to functions to work it can be paired with the work of another student in July.  I’m looking forward to this collaboration and learning more about Biomedical Engineering. I think the exposure to this different application of computer science will help me in the future when choosing career paths after undergrad.

Deleonne Clark

I need to reevaluate what is important to me. I have to remind myself of what I have control over and what I need to just brush off my shoulder. I want to be the cool and collected person who can handle any situation. I want to be carefree, relaxed, and happy. I need to change. I am excited to see how my new attitude will be tested when I go back to the states. I wonder how differently I will respond to the things that are emotionally draining to me. I feel myself growing as a woman. I feel my desire to change and to be the woman I see myself as. I wonder what I would be writing about if the situation in Mabella didn’t happen. And I think it is astonishing how the smallest things, and events in life can change someone’s entire perspective. It makes me appreciate the little stuff. It makes me never want to take anything for granted because I will never know what’s truly life changing.

Shelly Cobb

Shelley in England

Shelley in England

This week was the first I have ever spent in London, and although I have only been here for five days, I have observed a number of differences between life in the UK and life in the US. One of the obvious differences is the English that is spoken. Here in London, the accent with which English is spoken is different in addition to the fact that they have many different words that they use certain things. For example, I have learned that quid means money or pounds, cheers means thank you, and lift means elevator. The accent (depending on the person), makes the language sometimes difficult to comprehend. Another difference that I was quickly forced to adapt to was the different direction in which the cars drive. It was imperative for me to become accustomed to this as a pedestrian, because I have to know the correct way to look before crossing the street safely.

Sanura Dewa

Hopefully I can get used to these changes while I am here because right now it is really irritating me. However, my week has not been all bad, there were some good times too! For example I was able to start actually doing work for my project; I had to create an excel spreadsheet that my coworkers had to fill in with data so I could take it and factor it into my assessment. I also found out that I will be doing two Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), one on the solar powered locomotive and also for the sustainable house. They are both needed in the lab because all the employees want to know how much of an impact their projects are having on the environment. I am excited to start getting the data so I can get away from my desk for a bit. Additionally, I was told by my coworkers that I will be getting Spanish lessons every day at lunch and that I will be talked to in English but I must reply in Spanish so that I can learn the language better. It will definitely be a challenge but I am excited to see how much my better my Spanish will get after doing this for two months.

Akeela Lewis

Akeela in Spain

Akeela in Spain

I have been spending more time in the lab lately. My polymerase chain reactions are giving me results that I can use to analyze the DNA that I have extracted from our wild type and mutant plants. I have had to prepare the same DNA samples with different primers and run them on another agarose gel for the third time. The positive side about this is that I can tell that my pipetting skills are improving and it is not as hard for me to pipette my DNA into the gel.

Jasmin Eatman

Some really exciting news on the research front: when I began in the lab, it was a bit slow in terms of getting my own project together so I took the lead on an ethics application for another project that needed to get approved quickly. I didn’t know what I was doing but I used a template as a reference and just kept moving forward with it. Well, my research supervisor said it was amazing work, and she let met know yesterday that the project was approved for a major UK conference and I am listed as an author! I was so elated to hear this news, and really reaffirmed the value of working at my best even when I do not think anyone is watching.

Now, my own project is fully underway, and I’ve been able to review many articles and journals in that subject area so that I will be able to begin writing my own report as soon as data comes back to be analyzed. That point in the project will come on quickly, so I am excited that I will be prepared to hit the ground running.

Ebony Gaillard

The plane ride to London was very interesting since I rode on Virgin Atlantic, a British Airline. When I boarded the aircraft, I was greeted with flight attendants with great English accents. Listening to them speaking English, I instantly thought that American English lingo seems so improper compared to English spoken in the United Kingdom. Common words that I have learned so far on my trip have been queue (line), diary (calendar),lift (elevator), quid (money), jumper (sweater) and vest (tank top). Initially listening to conversations I would become puzzled by the meanings of these words until someone clarified to me the English meanings of these words. During my time here, I hope to learn more English lingo, since it is almost like I am learning a new language.

Jaycee Holmes

Jaycee in France

Jaycee in France

I spent the day reading over the literature behind turning theory and the maximum turning angles of cars to better understand the curvature of moving vehicle. I also looked at a Geogebra simulation my colleague sent me to better understand how the distance between the control points works. The greater the distance, the curvier the path is towards the middle, resembling a z. The smaller the distance, the greater the path resembles a straight line, meaning that it does not have an angle that is 0 degrees between the starting and ending direction and the chosen line of reference.

Courtney Lett

Culturally, this week in particular I couldn’t help but notice what it means to be black in France versus being black in America. I told my colleagues about the Charleston shooting and it was refreshing to talk about the issue with nonbias opinions. The French people I have met do not know a lot about race relations and the struggles people face as Black Americans in the U.S other than what they read on the internet. Most people of African descent I meet here identify as African and I had to explain why in America many would identify as black and not necessarily as African although we acknowledge our African descent. This lead to a discussion about how many Americans aren’t sure where our ancestors are from geographically because of the way America was founded. Being in Europe and learning some of the history has made me realize just how new of a country America is. For an economically and technologically progressive country we are fairly early in our history. I think this attributes to a lot of the social issues America faces. Of course there are native Americans and their history but as a union the United States has very little history compared to some of the European countries with noble families older than our constitution. During this experience I have found that I’ve developed more of an appreciation of global history. The history of a country really explains why people live and view things the way they do.


Ebone in Scotland

Ebone in Scotland

Ebone Monk

I arrived in Scotland. I came to Europe a few weeks early, I spent 20 days traveling throughout Western Europe and met some amazing people and did some incredible things along the way. 6 countries: Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Greece, and Scotland. 18 cities: Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Orvieto, Rome, Vatican City, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii, Delphi, Athens, Mykonos, London, Edinburgh, and finally Glasgow. I am so glad I got to explore Europe before starting the project, and now I can focus on the weekend and invest more time on the project, which is going to be very time consuming!! But amazing!!

Everyone is tremendously friendly and helpful. I am extremely excited about my project. I am going to be doing a lot of engineering and physics! YESSSS!! Nuclear Physics!! I have a task: To recreate a beta radiation detector. Sounds simple, right? But, the interesting part is creating it in a small package and in a 6-week time frame. The small size is the innovative part. It will be amazing if I am able to create a working prototype. I am starting from scratch! This project is combining physics, engineering, coding (data analysis), and a little bit of computer-aided design.

Krista Montgomery

Krista in Spain

Krista in Spain

I have been here in Madrid, Spain for almost four weeks and I have learned so much inside and outside of the lab. So far in the CSIC lab I have been working with the AKT1 protien and I have been trying to purify this protien so that I can learn its sturucture and function. Although it has been four weeks I have not had any positive results with my project which is frustrating. I am currently trying to find a solution to my problem and figure out where my protien is going. Not having any results is very stressful and it does intiminate me and make me question my abilites, but my Spelman mentor did reassure me that this is a part of research and that researchers spends years trying to solve for solutions for a particular problem.

KayCei Moton-Melancon

In regard to lab, this week included primarily literature review. I learned the importance of each test we preform and how it contributes to our end goal of deciding how freezing affects quality of fish while simultaneously killing the Anisakis. We also had to read an article that spoke about the allergens released by dead Anisakis. We were told that once the texture and temperature study was completed the next steps would be how to alleviate the allergens released by the dead Anisakis. Also this week I learned that food science and its research is truly dictated by the consumer. The example I was given was fish preparation in Spain. Currently, the trend with consumers is to leave the fish in a slightly rare state. Too ensure that this rare state is maintained cooking methods include cold smoking or searing. This preference lead to the research in my lab where our goal is to initially cold store the fish killing as many Anisakis as possible thus allowing the consumer to cook the fish as little or as much as they see fit.

Nacarri in Spain

Nacarri in Spain

Nacarri Murphy

Upon my arrival, I was given various articles to read in my down time in order to learn more about the specific analysis structure that I will be using within my research, Principle Component Analysis, and how it has connected to the data produced labs similar to ours. So my third step is to finish actively reading each of these articles to obtain as much information about my specific work as possible. Then using this information I plan to approach my mentor with questions regarding the articles, my work, and my research paper.

After I take these steps, with the information I receive, I will begin writing various pieces of my research paper. By reviewing each the components of the initial project detail, I will be able to write a draft of my abstract and introduction. Using the articles, I can probably began to produce a list of procedures and attempts which will later evolve into my Materials and Procedures section of my research paper. Since Today is Wednesday, I plan to finish all of these tasks by this Friday. Upon finishing these tasks, I hope to feel more comfortable with my position within my research program and I will continue to progress efficiently throughout the rest of my time in Spain.

Asia Payne

This last week has been a very rewarding week. I had the opportunity to travel to Paris, France and experiencing a totally different culture from Spain. While in France I took note of some cultural differences between Spain and France. In Paris, you see a diverse group of people. In Spain, there are mainly people who are of fairer complexion and everybody speaks Spanish for the most part including the tourists. However, people in Paris speak many languages. I also took note of other aspects of the city. I noticed that in Paris there was a large population of African men and women. In Madrid, I rarely see anyone who is of African descent, so this was refreshing to see people who looked like me for once out of my trip.

Sky Myers

I am finally starting to understand how the previous GSTEM scholars felt. My time in Madrid has gone by so quickly. There are so many places in Madrid that I haven’t seen or traveled to, and I only hope that the time slows down for me to explore more. I’m thankful to live in such a central location in Madrid where I could try a new restaurant everyday for 4 months if I wanted to!

As each day passes I become more excited to discuss my research topic with my family and friends. Not only does it confirm I understand what I am researching but also my goal to instill curiosity about my topic, in someone else. As a child, my parents always encouraged me to ask questions and to never shy away from information that I wanted to know. As a result, I encourage others to ask me about my research. In the laboratory, I want to understand everything. While they are waiting to use equipment or if we are at the same table at lunch, I often find myself asking researchers what interests them and what they are currently working on in the lab. I find every interaction with someone, an opportunity to learn more about the community I am temporarily in and a way to relate their occupation to their personal interests.

Akeela, Sky, and Tayhlor in Madrid

Akeela, Sky, and Tayhlor in Madrid

Tahylor Tanner

One of the first things that my mentor told me about the people of Madrid is that they like to stare. At first, I accepted this aspect of their culture. I took the staring as the people simply being curious. That was until I became more aware of the types of stares that some people gave me. They are long and hard stares in which they, for the most part, do not look away. This bothers me, as I feel uncomfortable when others stare at me. It makes me feel as if something is wrong with me. I know that me being an African American woman plays a role in the stares. I am confused as to why they stare in such a way seeing that people of African descent are present in Madrid. It is as if they have never seen an African American woman before. The stares is a bit hard to get used to, especially when I notice them everywhere I go, but I will continue to go about my business and accept the stares as a sign of curiosity.

Jessica Saiyno

Overall I think I have somewhat began to bond with one of the G-STEM Scholars who also researches in the same lab as myself. I have begun to open my mind up to new things like going hiking next Sunday with some of the Phd students who work in the lab. Though I have not really met any others students that research at the institution or lab, I think that would be my next thing to do.

I am also getting used to the Spanish language and becoming more comfortable with it instead of being scarred of it. I say this because my first day here in Granada, Spain I was so timid and scarred because none of the people in Granada looked or sounded like me, or even understood a word I was saying. That in itself made me a little scared and homesick. But I have grown to love the language and am getting used to it every day.


Martine in Spain

Martine in Spain

Martine Williams

Life here in Spain has taken on its own schedule, like I would do back at school in the states. I wake up at around 6:30am, get dressed, make breakfast, and make my 40-minute walk to the lab for research. I typically do about 4-5 hours of research at the lab per day. I must say that I don’t really have any friends here, or have yet to make any. Sometimes I feel alone because when I do go out to explore Granada, I do it by myself and sometimes I think it would be more enjoyable if I had friends to hang out with.

It’s still a struggle to communicate with others here in Spain sometimes. For example, a gentleman in the lab speaks no English. And me not knowing any Spanish make it difficult to have even the most basic conversations with him. Everyday I am faced with a language barrier more than a cultural barrier. But I am finding that it is these experiences that will allow me to grow personally and especially to learn to possess more patience.


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