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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending June 26, 2015

July 2, 2015
Scotland: Courtesy of Ebone Monk

Scotland: Courtesy of Ebone Monk

Sanura Dewa

Now that I know my way around my neighborhood I am not as inclined to explore because I know the area around me and to see some other places I would have to go to another part of Madrid. This is not a problem because I have a metro card that allows me to use the metro system and go anywhere I want until July, but I have been spending more time with my friends since their time here in Madrid is coming to an end next weekend. We have been going out and exploring a little bit, but most of our time is spent at their flat having parties or getting to know each other better. I am realizing that the people I have met will be long time friends because we have so much in common and we are not afraid to be our true selves around one another. We are honest with one another and we always look out for each other wherever we go.

Javonna in Scotland

Javonna in Scotland

Javonna Williams

The research portion is going quite well. I will be preparing a 10-minute talk for next Wednesday. This talk will explain what my research topic is about and how I will be completing this project. My research is about contamination in fresh water systems. Since the latest news has something to do with contaminated water, my mentor is allowing me to test the tap water/drinking water around Glasgow. I will be comparing the bacteria and viruses (if found) from the fresh water and determine what types of bacteria are present in the fresh water systems and possibly that same bacteria might be living in the tap water.

Courtney Lett

I’ve spent most of this week going through all the source code I found to implement my algorithm. I believe it’s very important to understand everything that a program is doing before trying to change it. The program I found uses 8 different files so line by line I have been following the direction of the program and making comments to understand where files/functions/operations tie in together. It’s a bit tedious but after gaining a working knowledge of the entire program I feel confident to make adjustments where they need to be made, and I know the effect that my changes can make to the entire program. Still, I find it very exciting to see the inner workings of something so I suppose that’s why I enjoy computer science so much.

Victoria Doctor

Scotland is a beautifully peaceful place. I departed from the United States on Friday, June 19, 2015 and arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 20, 2015. I was mentally prepared for weather to be slightly colder and the time change. Physically, I was overwhelmed. I was tired and it was extremely cold compared to the ninety degree with in my home state, Georgia. When I arrived at the airport an airport assistant gave me directions to complete a task but I could not understand his dialect. Eventually, after a couple of repeats, I accomplished what was needed. This was not only my first international flight but the very first flight in my life. Naturally, I walked around, asked questions and eventually found the Arcadia University representative. She led me to other four students; we took a taxi to the university. Luckily, they provided the taxi fare.

Chezlyn Patton 

Chezlyn in England

Chezlyn in England

This week I began experiencing a major portion of what this experience is about; research. I have never performed formal research before, so I was quite nervous about the process. I was afraid of not being able to do what was expected of me, and I was afraid to make mistakes. But, the RVC has been a very open and welcoming environment. My research supervisor has been very helpful in this process, and she has also provided me connections with two of her graduate students which have made this process of completing my project much easier.

The research I will be conducting is immunological, and focuses on probiotics. I will be experimenting with zebrafish and observing how long it takes probiotic to travel through their gut, as well as determining where colonization may take place. Though I just began my project three days ago, I have already jumped right in.

 Jessica Sainyo

One of the things that really were surprising to me this week was the festivals the different schools through for the elementary, middle, and high students. Honestly it was mind blowing to see kids and their families celebrating their entry into summer break. This honestly made me look on my childhood while in elementary, middle, and high school not in negative way, but actually in a positive light. The reason being is because I actually got the chance to see the difference in culture while here in Granada. Most schools in South Carolina or in the US usually have a party and outside field day with most of the students before summer break, but rarely do you see them outside for field day with their parents. I found that the kids had their end of the school year celebration was a bit weird, but interesting.

Akeela in lab

Akeela in lab

Akeela Lewis

In the lab. I learned how to sterilize seeds and plate them onto dishes. First we washed them with bleach and then we shook them for about seven minutes and centrifuged the seed. Then we washed them with water and plated them one by one on a dish. I have also assisted someone in our lab with their project. She is using trichomes to as way to see the differences  between wild type plants and their mutants. She wanted a second count of the trickles with a different set of eyes. The majority of my numbers were the same as hers. I counted how many trickles a leaf had and how many branches were on the trichome.

Tahylor Tanner

This week in lab, my lab partner and I began working with the seeds from the generations of plants that we are focusing on. This requires us to first sterilize the seeds with a mixture containing bleach and Tween and washing them with water a few times. Once the seeds are sterilized, they are ready to be arranged on the Petri dish and allowed to sit for two days. Once the two days have passed, the Petri dishes are placed into the in vitro where the plants are allowed to grow. As the plants grow, we will analyze their phenotype in relation to their genomic makeup whether with or without a mutation.

Jett Bagley

The most beneficial thing I brought to Taiwan is an ideal we all learned in kindergarten. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Traveling has brought out the best version of myself. I find that I am the happiest Jett I can be, the friendliest, the most outgoing, the most open-minded, and the most honest. Under the conditions of traveling alone, to be anything thing less than my personal best would truly hinder my experience. Although situations can be upsetting or tiring, I must stay positive to make friends and get around on a daily basis. I find it stressful at times to stay so positive but ultimately it’s rewarding and I hope I can take this outlook and attitude back home after this experience abroad is complete. This level of optimism and expecting the best of the people I meet has allowed me to make friends with people I never would have even talked to back home and go on adventures I’ve never dreamed of. I’ve learned the great possibilities that you open yourself up to when you treat people as you hope they will treat you.

Krista Montgomery 

Krista in Spain

Krista in Spain

I have been in Spain for four weeks now and I have learned so much in this short amount of time. I have learned about new techniques in the lab, new things about Spanish culture, and most importantly I have learned how to survive on my own in a diffrent country. Although I have learned all of these new things I still have a lot to learn in the next four to five weeks.

I am no where close to speaking fluent Spanish but I am able to understand the language. Better now. Now when people speak to me in Spanish I am able to understand what they are asking and I am usually able to give a reply. I am not sure if I know every single word that they are saying but if I can just understand three words than I am able figure out that they are talking about.  In the first blog I mentioned that I often get stared at everywhere I go, which is still occurring but I have learned to ignore it or stare back which usually worked.

KayCei Moton- Melancon

The experience of this week was an interaction between my flat mates and myself. I live in a flat with individuals from all over the world from countries such as France, Mexico, Cuba, Germany, and Italy. While in conversation we began speaking about school and how the systems differ in each country. I learned that in France education is free generally, but there are a few boarding schools that are private and quite expensive. I also learned that most individuals in France are required to be bi lingual and to enter into a competitive university they must score extremely well on their final exam similar to the ACT/SAT’s in the United States. This was the case for many countries however the differences became apparent in graduate level course work. Masters as well as PhD are very expensive and due to that many students often go to different countries where it is cheaper to study. Another piece of information I found to be quite interesting was that the examination that is required to enter into the university system also determines what major an individual is allowed to pursue.

Prenessa Lowery 

Prenessa in Scotland

Prenessa in Scotland

I was personally selected to take this journey with G­STEM and Arcadia to conduct a 6­week Summer STEM Research at the University of Glasgow. This experience ahead is going to be grand. Giving me the opportunity to challenge myself, grow, and live in a different culture. The trip to Glasgow, Scotland was a lot, but I am here and that is all that matters. This first week having the chance to meet the other students in my program, and getting to see what Glasgow has to  offer.  The  beautiful landscape, architecture, and the weather makes Glasgow, most memorable.

Deleonne Clark

This week I have had the pleasure of beginning my research project. Over the course of the last four weeks I have been extensively reading about my project and practicing programming. I have experienced many successes in my first few weeks and I was extremely confident that I could handle anything and everything thrown my way. I felt very positive about my research abilities and I even looked forward to dealing with harder problems. I was extremely wrong. I understand why I had to do all the reading and programming before beginning my research project. At first I thought it was to just familiarize myself with the computer program and working with programming mathematical equations. I knew I had to read the project description in order to understand what methods we would be using and so forth. But the prep work was much more than that.

Jasmin A Eatman

I am also very excited to report that my mentor from Spelman, Dr. Bass, is in London! I can hardly wait to see her, and it will be so very nice to see a familiar face. One thing that I have noticed here at the University of East London is that there are very, very few faculty members of color. Very few. This is a bit discouraging to me, especially coming from an HBCU where it is common to see scientists of color in action. I know that it is important to get an international experience in different lab settings; even still, I am not sure if the lack of faces of color in professional settings here is just an international difference or a difference based on the kinds of systemic discrimination that professionals of color in the United States also face. I would bet on the latter, based on how many people of color I have seen in domestic service positions versus professional positions.

Micah Henson

Tuesday was my first real day in the lab. I started out the morning meeting with my mentor to go over the assignment from the night before. A lot of the math I need for the project I have not learned yet. He taught me how to do ordinary differential equations. Some of the symbols used to write the math is a little different here. For example, when writing a vector, instead of putting an arrow above the letter, you put a line underneath. Small changes like this make reading math a little bit more challenging. He assigned me some readings and a few ODE problems to work on for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, another professor in the department introduced us to LaTex. LaTex is a typesetting system used all across the international math community to write documents. It is a bit ridiculous for just writing an essay, but if you have to write something with many mathematical formulas, the program is much faster than using Microsoft Word.

Brean and Micah in Scotland

Brean and Micah in Scotland

Brean Derrett

I was very nervous to come to Scotland, but it has been an enjoyable experience so far and I cannot believe that I have been in Scotland for a week already. I was mainly concerned about not being able to adjust to the culture here, but it has turned out to be similar to America in more ways than I originally thought. First, I did not think that I would see any other black or African people in Scotland besides the other Spelman women in my program, however I see a vast array of people from various backgrounds and races here in Glasgow. There are multiple Chinese and Korean restaurants, there is a Mexican restaurant right down the street from the University and there is an African food and goods store as well. There aren’t even African stores in the city where I am from, so it really surprised me to discover such diversity here.

When I first arrived, I had to get used to the accent, but I am now starting to understand Glaswegians better every day. Glasgow is such a nice city and every one that I have encountered here has been very nice and welcoming.

Martine Williams

In essence, some progress has been made. Even though I don’t think that research is my field for my career, I can’t dismiss it totally. This experience is teaching me to have more respect for the work that researchers do and the immense amount of patience it takes to do research. They contribute a lot to the medical field and to biology as a whole, more often than I think. GSTEM reminds me that research is no easy task and it takes a true, dedicated, and passionate person to be a researcher.

Shelley in England

Shelley in England

Shelley Cobb

This week is the first I have started working in the lab regularly. I am participating in a project titled, “Effect of insulin resistance on ox-LDL uptake and subsequent release of microvesicles by human macrophages, in vitro”. So far, I have worked on separating lipoproteins from human plasma using sequential density gradient ultracentrifugation. This has been an intriguing technique so far due to the fact that I have learned about this in courses that I have taken previously. It is a great to finally have a hands on experience with research techniques that I have studied. This week I have also performed dialysis to remove unwanted substances from the samples in addition to performing oxidation on the LDL (low density lipoprotein) samples and the VDL (very low density lipoprotein) samples.

Sky Myers

This week, in and out of lab, I was reminded of how important it is to have patience. In Barcelona and in daily communication with those around me, I understand it is possible that what I am trying to say and what the other person is trying to say might be lost in translation due to the language barrier. I find it important to remain patient because chances are; they are trying as hard as I am to communicate. In regards to patience in the laboratory, if one doesn’t have patience it’s likely for a mistake to occur. Instead of rushing, I learned to find a certain rhythm and to continue with that rhythm through the duration of the experiment. I would rather take the time to double check, rather than repeating the experiment due to errors that could have easily been avoided!

Ebony Gaillard

This week I also began working on my research project which is named “Establishing a robust protocol for viral nucleic acid extraction from food products using an internal virus control” with my foreign mentor.  She has been a great resource so far by acclimating myself and my research partner to her lab in addition to the protocol that we will be using for our project.  During our first official lab day, she spent time teaching my partner and me the background concepts which are involved for our project in addition to giving us information on the techniques we will primarily use such as PCR and gel electrophoresis.  I found this time very helpful and allowed for me to form a solid foundation for new material I will learn in the following weeks.  Since the first day, I have been working with my lab partner and my mentor on practicing the protocol of our experiment.  I am very excited to delve into more avenues for scientific exploration and hope that my experience will be a great one.

Gabriela Atsepoyi

Santa Rosa was absolutely beautiful! I mean it was drier and we saw way more snakes than Corcovado, it was still an eventful stay. I saw a poisonous viper, a rattlesnake and a boa and of course different species of monkeys!  While Alan our instructor was trying to pick up the Boa, it bite his thumb (Boas aren’t poisonous, so he’s fine).  Santa Rosa is an interesting ecosystem because it was once a cattle ranch and it has been re-growing for 38+ years and it looks very similar to a camping area in some parts of Colorado. We spent the majority of both field trips preparing for our extensive species reports due a week after we get to Monteverde. We have to identify 74 species and plants.  I’m in Monteverde now and it’s so green and cold here. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of terms to study. Today was my first with a steady internet connection for a while so I have been catching up on a lot. We start Spanish class tomorrow, in addition to our Humans in the Tropics and Tropical Biology class. The people here are cool, and very chill. I love that. Pura Vida!

Jaycee Holmes 

Jaycee with mentor Dr. Jakita Thomas

Jaycee with mentor Dr. Jakita Thomas

Today was INRIA’s music festival, which I think was planned to coincide with Paris’ music festivals the weekend before.  There was a live circus band, karaoke, a dance party, go-karts, as well as an event space where various employees performed entertainment pieces ranging from Zumba lessons, to country dancing, to metal rock bands. My office mate performed in a rock band where she played the drums (in the primal style of the White Stripes) and sang Happy Together (by the Turtles) and a Japanese version of Country Road (John Denver). It was such a great day. Especially when I couldn’t be in Paris this past weekend.

Asia Payne

I also had a wonderful meeting with Dr. Kimberly Jackson, my Spelman mentor, and my Spain mentor Dr. Cristina Vega. I prepared a Powerpoint presentation to display all of the results I have obtained thus far. It was nice to be able to show how much progress I have made on my research project.

Nacarri Murphy

I have been able to finish reading three articles; writing three sections of my research paper, and began asking my mentor more questions. Some more research advances that I have made include presenting my first research presentation in front of all of the members of our program. All of the members of the audience expressed there amazement when I vocalized that the presentation had been my first time presenting on research that I had done in front of a larger audience. I felt very accomplished as well as motivated to strengthen my research presentation skills and the actual research that I done. For the most part, I am very content with my research activities this week.

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