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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending June 5, 2015

June 25, 2015
Akeela in Spain

Akeela in Spain

Akeela Lewis

Our research project is really similar o our biology125project. We extracted DNA from our arabidopsis plant by destroying our leaves and washing our DNA with ethanol. We are crossing mutants and testing to see the how protein phophorylation affects the plants genotype. Our current mutant plants are dwarfs compared to the wildtypes. Our lab is more relaxed than labs in the United States. People wear sandals, tank tops, and shorts which are all forbidden in U.S. labs. We all eat lunch together at around 1pm.

Jett Bagley

Recently the students in my lab had a research day and wanted to demonstrate their work on me. They hooked up an LED light to my finger that was supposed to accurately estimate my blood pressure. However, because they had not previously tested on anyone with a darker complexion, the graphical results were way off. The light was only able to see through fair skin. I think this highlighted the purpose of GSTEM. It showed the value of diversity in lab environments. Although, in this instance the diversity I offered was literally skin deep, I look forward to continuing to share my experiences with my lab mates and learning from theirs.

Jessica Sainyo

My daily experiences here in Spain would have to be people staring at me everyday. I honestly get about 20 stares and maybe even more a day. Maybe the reason being is because most Spaniards are not as familiar with someone of my skin color or ethnicity. I say that because most people in Granada, Spain are not of African American ethnicity. So I’m guessing when they see me they are not as familiar with seeing someone that does not look like them. Overall my experience in Granada, Spain is way different then my experience in Columbia, South Carolina, but I am loving my experience in Granada, Spain and it actually makes me appreciate what have and do not have back in United States

Deleonne Clark

My first week here in Cordoba has been more than life changing. It has taken me almost the entire week to adjust to the daily living style of my peers. I have not gotten use to the late nights and early morning, although I quiet enjoy the midday Siesta we take every day. Also, when I first arrived I was more exhausted because of not only the time issue but also the energy it took for me to try and understand what people were saying to me. Not only do I understand more Spanish and communicate more efficiently, I also am much more patient. I can sit at the table with my home mom and tell her about my day and have that connection with her. When Spanish people take the time to talk to me and I to them in their native language I feel much more close to the culture. I am less timid to want to go out and explore because I am more comfortable with my speaking abilities.

Nacarri and Deleonne in Spain

Nacarri and Deleonne in Spain


Sanura Dewa

Prior to my departure to Spain, my mother was worried about me leaving the country by myself and was checking up on me every five seconds to remind me to pack even more things into my already overweight bag. I knew my first day was going to be a challenging due to me having to figure out how to navigate my way around the city and communicate with the locals, but it ended up being a lot worse than I expected. I was told that Madrid was a tourist area and that there would be people out here who speak English, but I didn’t realize how real and untrue that statement was until I was getting into a taxi cab. Using my moderate Spanish vocabulary, I told the cab driver where to drop me off and I guess he must have thought I was a local because he was speaking rapidly to me in Spanish and I tried to catch the words that sounded familiar and made it through. After that happened to me I made sure to brush up on some common Spanish words so I wouldn’t have to endure that again.

Jasmin Eatman

London is absolutely positively amazing! Honestly, at first, I didn’t even want to travel abroad in the UK. I would have much rather traveled to the continent of Africa or maybe South America, but London certainly wasn’t on my radar. Now, I am absolutely loving the community, people, and definitely all the fresh food options. My research mentors are great, and because of a mix up I have two research mentors now instead of one. They seem really open and willing to answer questions, provide support, and help me to do what it is that I really want to do.

Nacarri in Spain

Nacarri in Spain

Nacarri Murphy

This week was my first week on my Research Site in Cordoba,Spain. Honestly, it has been a blast of fun in such a short period of time. From meeting my host family to meeting my mentor, I have had so many great experiences already. My arrival in Spain was a bit rocky because I was ending another program, STEM Launch, in Germany. I had a couple small difficulties when trying to figure out my way from Munich, Germany to Cordoba, Spain. It cost a bit of money, but I took a plan and two trains. Thankfully the coordinator of my program had in between traveling (i.e. from hotels to train stations) already planned out for me. Upon arrival in Cordoba, my host mom was waiting with a smile from ear to ear at the train station for me with my host brother. They greeted me with so much love and affection that, I immediately felt at home before we even made it home.

Courtney Lett

Completing the first week of my international research experience has certainly been a feat in itself. I have been getting acclimated to my lab, advisors, and the facility but the transition has been fairly easy. I am doing research under Dr. Cecilia Zanni-Merk in computer vision regarding image segmentation of textures. The lab works with labeling satellite images of the work, and in short, my role is to implement an approach to segment images based on their colors and textures in a way to understand them. The lab culture is very laid-back and relaxed. I report to two of Cecilia’s colleagues. One thing I noticed here is that students refer to their professors/bosses by their first name. It’s a little different for me but something I can easily get adjusted to. I do not work directly with any other students but I do share a lab with 9 students and we all are working on components of the same research. Some are doctorate students, some are masters students, and a few are at the level equivalent to undergraduate like myself.

KayCei Moton-Melancon

I don’t speak Spanish so in this week I have learned to point, speak very slowly, and from time to time pull out Google translator. It was a time consuming task, but many people spoke very basic English which was enough to assist me. This situation brought me to the realization of the feeling of foreign tourists when they visit America or are relocating to the states. Most Americans are not multi lingual and therefore most foreigners don’t even have the comfort of their basic language in stores, shops, and restaurants. They are forced into the English culture from the time they step onto American soil until they decide to leave. I can now see from my experience how frustrating and upsetting that can be for the non-English speaking foreigner.

Krista Montgomery

I have extended some of my goals since being here. I now hope to be able to speak Spanish fluently upon my return to the states. In addition to that I would like to make friends here in Spain and gain some needed networking opportunities. I have also me[t] another American student who is a PhD student at Notre Dame that who could potentially be a great resource. I hope to experience as much as possible in the next nine weeks and continue to grow in my scientist methods and research capabilities.

Akeela, Jaycee, and Krista in Spain

Akeela, Jaycee, and Krista in Spain

Jaycee Holmes

I bou[gh]t a monthly bus and metro pass for locals that should save me money on my commutes between the zone in which I live and the zone in which I work. It also grants me free access to Paris’ city centre on weekends. Grocery shopping continues to fascinate me. I have started created shopping lists based on what I see others take from the shelves. I have had many firsts in the past few shopping trips from Camembert to cooking eggplant.  Cooking daily is still fun because it does not yet feel obligatory.

Sky Myers

Today was my first day visiting the lab where I will conduct my summer research. KayCei and I were able to meet many faculty members of the lab and learn more about the project. We spoke with many PhD students and discovered how the PhD system in Europe worked. I was so surprised to see so many women! I have never seen anything like it. Majority of the faculty were women who obtained PhD’s in fields like Chemistry, Biochemistry, Nutrition, Biology, and many others. It was nothing short of inspiring. I’m so excited to begin research. I’m not looking forward to the early hours, but I’m super excited to explore the field of nutrition and food science. I appreciate this level of exposure to other areas in science because it grants me the opportunity to think about other potential careers.

Asia Payne

So, I have run into difficulty using the limited vocabulary I have in Spanish and also understanding the sped up, wide vocabulary that people in Spain use. Thankfully, there are many people who are patient with me while I try to understand them, or when they are trying to understand me. One day, I had to take a cab from my hotel to my flat, and the taxi driver didn’t know any English at all. However, he politely asked me could I speak Spanish. I replied “pequena”, which means a little. So, he proceeded to tell me directions slowly in Spanish. I was so thankful that he was patient in explaining the directions. It was important that he tell me the directions because the street my flat is on is a pedestrian road, therefore he had to tell me that he would have to drop me off on the street before.

Tayhlor Tanner

Upon walking into the lab, I knew that I was going to learn quite a bit as an evolving scientist. I met the people in my lab who are all nice and students around my age. I’m studying protein phosphorylation in the Arabidopsis plant through techniques such as DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis. So far, we have performed DNA extraction from the leaves of the Arabidopsis plant. Next week we will perform PCR on the DNA and get closer to better understanding the protein phosphorylation mechanism in the Arabidopsis and its complexity. I feel comfortable with my project because I have performed these techniques through my Biology 125 course at Spelman. I’ve realized that no matter where you go, science is a universal language.

Martine Williams

I didn’t have any real perceptions about Spain upon my arrival to the country because I did not want to come with these false representations of who the people are or any other stereotypes. The best thing I learned before leaving from my family is to keep an open mind, which is my main goal by not making any premature assumptions about Europeans before I even get there. And this is where I think I am starting to grow as an individual. It is so easy back home to make assumptions about Europeans based on the images the media portray them as, but I want to see them for myself. I want to interact with them and make my own experiences before judging them based off of someone else’s ideology. The biggest piece of advice I would give any future students is to please keep an open mind and remember that America is not the whole world. There’s another world out there.

But overall, my experience here in the lab has only solidified my views that science is universal. The same processes that we conducted such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and plasmid isolation are the same exact things we are doing here. As a scientist, these experiences have made me more aware of the simple things we take for granted in the labs back at home. For example, many of the stock solutions and gels are already prepared for us in the class, but here I have to make everything myself. For any students who may be coming to Granada, I would advise them to research the materials that we have in America but may not be available in Spain and also research any scholarly journals to discover how the same processes may be conducted differently.

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