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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending July 10, 2015

July 21, 2015
Taiwan: Courtesy of Brygett Bagley

Taiwan: Courtesy of Brygett Bagley

Sanura Dewa

Oikos is set up so that the circuit system and the materials work together to warm and cool the house depending on the temperature outside. By analyzing the data for Oikos, I found that the house not only uses less energy, but it also stores the surplus energy from the solar panels, under the house; this energy can be used at a later time and there is even the possibility of this energy being sold for profit. Furthermore, the creation of this excess renewable energy was able to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to where there were no GHG outputs for this LCA at all. This is very important and valuable because the production of most products leads to an increase of GHG such as carbon dioxide, and various nitrogen and sulfur oxides that deplete the earth’s atmospheric layers. Analyzing the inputs and outputs for Oikos has shown me that sustainable infrastructure and renewable energies have the potential to decrease cost, produce more energy, and have a smaller impact on the earth’s resources than the methods we use today.

Sky in Madrid

Sky in Madrid

Sky Myers

This past weekend, I spent time in Grenoble, France, a small city situated between the French Alps. Grenoble is near Lyon, France, which is France’s second largest city. During my stay, I visited La Bastille, a historic fortress of Grenoble, tried new French foods, visited many parks, and enjoyed my Morehouse brother’s company. I was amazed by the mountain range and that the scenery was considered an everyday sight for people. I would love to wake up to the view of the mountains and enjoy all of the lovely parks and street musicians.

This weekend I will embark on my most anticipated weekend trip: Marrakech, Morocco! I have never been to Africa and would have never imagined visiting at the age of 20. Not many people are blessed with the opportunity to travel and I am just so grateful to do. Not to mention, my Spelman G-SEM Scholar Sisters will be traveling with me! I am so excited for this experience.

Chezlyn Patton

Aside from lab life, my social experience has been going well. On the 4th of July, I went sightseeing around London and experienced the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge. Then on Sunday, I visited the largest mall in Europe. It was definitely any shopper’s dream come true! During this week my program provided me and my colleagues with a celebratory halfway point dinner/check-in. The dinner was at a very nice Italian restaurant, and I enjoyed reflecting on my time in London with my program coordinators and peers. The next day I saw a documentary about the life of late London native, Amy Winehouse. She was a 6-time Grammy Award winning singer who actually lived in the neighborhood I’m residing in. It was really cool to see footage of the streets I walk every day up on the big screen. I definitely feel like I am getting into the culture of London, but I am excited to start traveling. Tomorrow I will head to Amsterdam, The Netherlands for the weekend, and then I will be traveling to Paris, France next weekend. I am glad that I will get the chance to visit different parts of Europe, contributing to a more holistic experience.

KayCei Moton- Melancon

Typically I conduct bench research, which primarily is research for the acquisition of knowledge. This is not begrudged to the idea that bench research holds no connection to the real- world, but is known to be more fruitful in scholarly publishing, conferences, and the development of theories.  However, this week in lab I was given the opportunity to explore research in a new light known as translational research. Translation Research has always been an interest of mine surfacing from my belief that to fully give oneself to science is to also give to the community and its problems that can be addressed through scientific discovery.

KayCei in the lab in Spain

KayCei in the lab in Spain

Javonna Williams

Today marks a total of two weeks that I have been in Glasgow, Scotland. Once again I am still having the time of my life. Some days I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe that I am abroad. I don’t think it really has hit me yet, maybe once I start telling people about my experience. Anyway, last week I mentioned how intense things were getting in the lab, and this week has been the same however, I’ve managed to up my pace and keep you with the demanding work in the lab. This week I’ve started to run PCR’s on my samples and I’m glad to say that I have gotten beautiful results. From here the samples will be sent off for sequencing (this data will tell me what types of bacteria have been growing in my water samples). I have to run PCR on my bottled water samples, but I’ve also decided to add another water sample to my data. This will be the final water sample (due to demanding work load).  Also this week we started a technique that will allow students to test whether we have viruses in our water samples. This process will take a few days before we have results, so hopefully next week sometime, I can have results on one of my water samples.  However, everything has been going well in the lab despite the long hours.

Courtney Lett

This weekend will be a long one since Tuesday is Bastille day, French Independence day. Many people are taking Monday off as well to have a four day weekend. I am extremely excited to see how the French celebrate the holiday. In Strasbourg’s center there will be a large festival with food, music, games and fireworks. I’ll be in Marrakech, Morocco Friday night through Monday morning with several other GSTEM scholars. I am really excited to see some other Spelmanites and see a culture completely different than Europe.

Krista Montgomery 

Krista in Spain

Krista in Spain

Another week in Madrid as helped me to grow a little more. Nothing has really changed in the past week. The only thing I have had to deal with  is 100 degrees weather and a minor cold. I never expected it to be this hot in Madrid, Spain. I also didn´t expect for there to be no air conditioning in many housing facilities. After living in Spain during the hottest months of the year I believe that I will be able to go any where in the world with out a problem. This week my main focus as been my research and making sure that I get some decent results. Although I have not started the crystallization process yet. I hope that before I leave in the next three weeks that I will get some crystals and complete my research project here in Madrid

Nacarri Murphy

Upon my return to my research site, my colleagues were very excited to hear all about my travels. I was just as anxious to begin work in efforts to reemerge myself into my research project. I believe that it was this anxiety that allowed me to reach new discoveries in my research today. Using the Principal Component Analysis method discussed previously, I was able to make serious connections between the variables of data. Therefore, now I can start the second to last part of my research, which consists of analyzing and creating graphs to further understand the correlation of variables within data from testing the composted materials from the laboratory.

Ebone with Scotland flag

Ebone with Scotland flag

Ebone Monk

The pad layout of the SiPM’s are a bit tricky, and I have to design a holder that allows  access to the pads without making the component rest unevenly with a tiny plastic scintillator resting on top. The other trick problem with these SiPM is getting a read out using a common LED and not a radioactive source. My next task, finding the scintillation material in the technician’s lab. This was kind of fun because I got to spend a lot of time with the technicians and they are hilarious and they taught me some cool mechanical techniques and gave me a soldering iron!!  I cut and polished the 2mm by 2mm by 5 mm tiny pieces into shape. However, cutting and polishing was only part of the job, I had to rap them in Teflon and black plastic tape, while leaving the ends exposed. This was interesting, because the little plastic pieces kept falling out. But the technicians helped and everything worked out. I would like to gather different types of scintillation material and compare them, but for now I only have one type of plastic.

Victoria Doctor

“Home is where the heart is” and my heart resides in the United States. This past weekend was the 4th of July. Though I was not raised to celebrate this holiday my family still gathers for an annual cookout for comfort. This was my first time missing a family function. So to not dwell on my family’s absence, I planned a trip to London, England with my fellow Spelman sisters, Micah and Prenessa. The trip was from July 3rd to the 5th. We planned each day thoroughly so we could have the perfect London experience, which included staying in a hostel.

Prenessa D. Lowery

“All aboard Virgin Train from Glasgow Central to London Euston.” This past weekend I had the chance to visit more of the United Kingdom. I saw London, England and all it has to offer. This was my first time riding a train, and my heart started racing once they called for us to board. As we moved rapidly through Scotland, I got the chance to see the beautiful landscape. I thought I was looking at a painting. It was a sight I will never forget. Riding through the highlands, and seeing what more Scotland has to offer was a breathtaking experience. As we arrived in London, I became more excited. We were in London for two days, and we accomplished so much. I experienced 45 Harrowby Rd, and I saw The Duke of York Hostel. This was my first and last time saying in a hostel.

Asia in Madrid

Asia in Madrid

Asia Payne

Furthermore, my lab work has been going splendid. Although, I have been working long hours lately (10am-8pm), I have been getting significant results. So far my Catalase protein has been successfully crystallized, however we have to wait for the crystal to grow larger before we can preserve it for diffraction. During diffraction, we will be able to analyze the structural bonds within our catalase protein. In this way, we can know the future applications of the protein in the pharmaceutical industry or the textile industry.

This weekend, I will be traveling to Marrakech, Morocco with my Spelman sisters. We are planning on taking a camel ride and visiting the markets, which are called bazaars. Unfortunately, I will not be escaping the scorching heat but being with my Spelman sisters will make the experience even better.

Akeela Lewis

This week I discovered the Dominican area of Madrid. On the surface it looked like just another shopping area but once you turn down a side street it is like a mini Dominican Republic. There were black hair stores and hair salons full of women getting blow outs. I was craving Dominican food so I went to La Casa del Mofongo. On my way to the restaurant I walked past a gym that was blasting  bachata. I instantly knew I was in the right area. The food was delicious and they even had fresh chinola  which is passion fruit juice.  I had arroz con pollo  which is rice and stew chicken. The waiter did not speak English so when he found out that I did he asked me how to pronounce some numbers. After I told him he went into the kitchen and screamed the numbers. Apparently they all were trying to figure out the English word for fourteen. This restaurant made me so happy because they played the same music that I heard while was in the D.R.

Jett Bagley

I must say there are so many things about Taiwan that makes it perfect for foreign students. As an extremely English-friendly and democratic country, it’s a good place to for westerners to live and visit. Not to mention the island’s natural beauty, cheap eats, convenient public transit and proximity to many other Asian countries. I’ve really been able to enjoy myself here and although I’m ready to see my family and friends, I’m definitely going to miss Taiwan.

Jessica Sainyo

Luckily this weekend I am going to Marrakech, Morocco, meeting up with almost half of the other gstem scholars. Not only am I excited  about being in Morocco but I feel like I am growing up in a sense that I cannot really ask my parents how to get from Granada, Spain to Marrakech, Morocco because they are almost over 2200 miles away from me. So in a way it forces me to get over my fear and do things on my own. I hope to gain such a great experience in Morocco, and have fun and exciting stories to tell in my next portfolio.

Sky, Jessica, Tayhlor, Sanura, and Asia in Spain

Sky, Jessica, Tayhlor, Sanura, and Asia in Spain

Deleonne Clark

This past weekend was a traveling weekend for me. I went to Florence Italy to see my best friend. I was shocked by the atmosphere of two places. I don’t think I would have called Cordoba my home if I hadn’t left. I realized how comfortable my life in Spain has become. I got so use to speaking Spanish in order to communicate with the people around me that when arrived in Florence and English was being spoken I had to adjust. There were many times in which I tried to ask for directions, or order food, and I instantly tried to use Spanish. My friend often reminded me that the people who work speak English because where she lives was a major tourist attraction. I was excited to go home. It was strange to be in a place where everyone could understand everything I was saying. At first it was refreshing! It’s not to be able to communicate efficiently. When in Spain I am constantly trying to rephrase my sentences in order for people to understand me. But the longer I stayed in Florence the more irritating I found it. There I was, walking the streets of a beautiful city, and I made no real connection to it. I barley heard Italian when I was there! My visit made me appreciate all language barrier I face in Spain. Sure, communicating isn’t always the best. No, most of the time I do not know what’s on the menu. But, as I continue learning I feel closer to my surroundings.

Jasmin Eatman

Someone asked me today how much longer I will be in the UK, and I shocked myself when I had to say only two more full weeks. This time has absolutely flown and I am so grateful for every minute that I’ve spent at work (and at play) here in Europe. My project is coming along very nicely, and I am about thirty over my original target number of 250 participants. At first, I was super concerned about making it to 250, but through being resourceful and reaching out to different online databases, I was able to get all of those participants- and more! I’ve even received great feedback about the survey itself. Considering how long it was, I didn’t expect people to actually enjoy taking it. Some people (even synesthetes) would comment on the link saying that it was one of the best surveys on synaesthesia that they have ever taken. That meant a lot to me as a budding survey researcher, and I will definitely take back strategies that I used in conducting and designing the survey back to the States.

Micah Henson

Micah in London

Micah in London

Because we had a very limited amount of time in London, we packed our days with activities to maximize our time. We visited the Queen’s gallery. It featured artwork of the paradise gardens from different centuries. The art was exquisite, and the rooms were so ornate that you could easily mistake yourself for being in a palace! Next, we visited the Royal Mews. The Royal Mews is an actual working stable in the heart of London. Part of the stables house horses and the other part displays several of the Queen’s carriages and one of her cars. We saw the Gold State Coach that is only used when a new monarch is coroneted or during major anniversaries.  The coach is enormous and covered in gold leaf! Next, we visited Buckingham Palace. We did not get the opportunity to go inside, but we took several photos in front of the gates and by the fountain. Then, we visited Big Ben and the famous Oxford Street for shopping. We ended the day with a turn on the London Eye to see the city skyline. The London eye was a bit scary at first. However, once I got over the initial fear I was able to appreciate the beauty of the city. The next day we decided to take it easy because we were so tired from all the walking we did the day before. We visited Tower Bridge and London Bridge. We took pictures along the Thames and ate lunch in a little café off of the river before returning home on the train. The trip to London was so much fun! London is a very beautiful and vibrant city, but by the end of the weekend, I missed the relative quietude of Glasgow.

Martine Williams

But the best part about this long and grueling week without any progress, I feel better after talking to both of my mentors here and back at Spelman. It is more important for me to be able to understand the research and have a concrete understanding of the background to my research than to just have results. Now I don’t feel so obligated to just obtain results and to focus more on understanding my research project and its importance to the contribution to the science community.

The biggest accomplishment that I have gained this week is gaining a deeper understanding of my research project. We are actually trying to attempt to clone another protein that has been found in humans and is a ribonucleoprotein because the protein I started to clone, TiAR, has been very difficult to amplify.

Jaycee in France

Jaycee in France

Jaycee Holmes

The weekend before July 6 2015 was one of relaxation and recuperation. I spent Saturday doing some retail therapy on Rue de Rivoli. It still catches my breathe to be walking the avenues and seeing the sights that I have so often seen in movies.  I have become a pro at navigating the metro and rail lines of Paris. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of the smart phone apps and RATP (the Ile de France Metro app).  Both are capable of navigating its users offline – meaning without the need of wi-fi.  It is amazing how far smart phone technologies have come.

Brean Derrett

This week, has been the most productive for me as far as my research goes. I have been struggling to get my C. elegans worms to grow correctly and in sync for the past few weeks, but today the worms were actually adequate enough to collect some data. I was scared that I would never be able to figure out how to manipulate the worms and that I would need to change my whole project, but things are turning out okay so far. It has been interesting learning about how my lab works and the correct etiquette for working in the lab. I never had any lab experience before this, other than my biology and chemistry classes and in some ways it is similar and in other ways it is different. My lab advisor is very relaxed and lets us call us by her first name and do our projects however we like. I thought that this was very different when I first met her because in America, usually people like to be called Dr., but almost everyone in the lab prefers to be addressed by their first name.

Three weeks have gone by so fast and I am excited to see what the next three week shave in store for me. The other students in the program are so nice and I have enjoyed going places with them and I have gotten to get to know other Spelmanites that I did not know before coming here. Overall, my week has been really good. I was a little home sick when I first got here because I missed my family and the weather was a little gloomy, but I am beginning to get accustomed to life here in Glasgow.

Shelley Cobb

On the research front, so far things with my project are progressing nicely. My project is one in which I have to perform the same exact experiment four times in order to collect means or medians which correctly represent the whole of the data. I have performed one full experiment and collected valid data and am currently working on finishing the second round. In performing the same procedure, I have learned how to notice which parts of the procedure can be tweaked in order to be carried out more accurately the next time. I am slowly learning that research is a process of trial and error and perfecting the procedure in order to collect the most accurate results possible. I am looking forward to performing data analysis in order to begin drawing conclusions upon the collection of more data.

Ebony and Shelley in England

Ebony and Shelley in England

Ebony Gaillard

Experiencing July 4th in another country was an interesting experience.  During the day I saw a few Americans who stood out due to their patriotic outfits and the flailing of the American flag.  Businesses that are geared towards American cuisine and culture decorated their store fronts and businesses with red, white and blue but those places were few and far between.  Otherwise the American celebration was just another Saturday for the people of London and foreign visitors.  On this day, I was out all day touring London attractions that I had yet to visit, such as Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Knightsbridge, Hyde Park, the O2 Arena, and HMS Belfast.  I was able to see the greater London by riding an alternative transportation resource which is Emirates Air Line.  The ride was a quick one from two points in the city and was a lot cheaper than the London Eye!  On Sunday I went to the Westfield, the largest mall in Europe for some retail therapy.  That mall was so huge! They had every store needed inside, even a pharmacy.

My time in London is winding down very quickly! The days are passing by faster and faster as I delve deeper into my research at the Royal Veterinary College.  I am getting more proficient at the methods I am conducting in the laboratory, especially the set-up of PCR and gel electrophoresis.  It is getting slightly nerve-racking the thought that presentations for the program are coming up so soon.  It seems like I just began my project and already I will have to discuss my findings to a panel in order to receive a mark.  I am glad that the program has presentation incorporated into the grading scale because I will be able to get feedback from staff at the Royal Veterinary College which will allow me to better my speaking and presentation skills for the future.

Gabriela Atsepoyi

Today is our last day at Eladios Station  in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. The hike here was about 18km and it took us all 6+ hours to make it. It was an absolutely beautiful hike. We were surrounded by clouds and a beautiful rainforest the entire trek here. It’s amazing how close we are to the biological station but how far it feels. I feel like I’m in the middle of the rainforest hundreds of miles away from civilization. But I’m not. Monteverde is far, but not too far. The whole time we’ve been here it’s been so serene. I have learned to appreciate disconnection. It’s scary because the idea of disconnecting to some is unrealistic when it should be mandatory. Before this trip I never went days without my phone or wifi. I would unlock my phone and scroll when I was bored but now I know how to appreciate silence and the beauty in conversation. I’ve grown reasonably close to the people here. We spend so much time working hard. If we’re aren’t hiking 10+ km, or studying hard for an exam we are challenging ourselves in a different way. I have learned to be content with minimal and it’s truly a beautiful thing.

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