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Scholar Highlights for Week Ending July 3, 2015

July 21, 2015
Victoria, Micah, Javonna, Brean, Prenessa, Ebone in Scotland

Victoria, Micah, Javonna, Brean, Prenessa, Ebone in Scotland

Sanura Dewa

My research has been progressing now that I have had my data for over a week and I have been working hard researching what different the different factors and properties mean. After I am done understanding and analyzing my data, I will be able to start graphing and figuring out the best way to present my data so that it makes sense and it shows the different changes I want to exhibit. I plan to focus on energy usage and also the amount of materials that were being used to show how much more cheaply and sustainable this TRANSOL product is. I am learning a lot about what different factors play a part in making TRANSOL work and I have more to learn! I am happy that I chose the project that I did because I am learning so much about renewable energy sources and how to store the energy for later use. I can definitely take all this knowledge with me to engineering school to use towards my Environmental Engineering coursework and hopefully it serves me well.


Javonna in Scotland

Javonna in Scotland

Javonna D. Williams

Getting into my research for the week; I did have my 10-minute talk today about my research project. I thought it went fairly well despite not giving a presentation in well over a year. So I know that I have a little cleaning up to do with my presentation skills, but overall I thought I did pretty well. This was just an informal presentation, so I have time to work out the kinks before the last/major final presentation. In dealing with my research I have started to look at the bacteria that is growing in domestic places versus the river water. I have begun to test water fountains, and bottled water, to look and see if any bacteria is growing and if it’s contaminated or not.

Prenessa D. Lowery

As July 1st starts to approach, my mentor quickly taught me the computer software “Latex.” Latex is the software we will use to make our presentations and final paper. This application is used commonly in the Math world to make it easier to show math formulas and symbols. July 1st is finally here, and it is no turning back. After practicing with my mentor and other students I feel more confident than I did a couple days ago. As I patiently listened to the other students present, I was closely watching the clock. Four­thirty hit, and I heard my name called. It’s no time to turn back now. Finishing my presentation with a smile, I heard a friend say “Great job.”

Asia Payne

The other day I spent time just walking down the street I live on. I took the time to really take in how the city sounded and how many people are on the streets. While I’ve been here in Spain, I have realized that people really live here. By “live”, I mean that the people here really value every single minute of the day. Instead of rushing through lunch or dinner, people take time to really enjoy each other’s company. At lunch, I spend just as much time talking about current news and topics as I do eating. It reminds me of how Thanksgiving dinner is in the United States, except it’s like Thanksgiving everyday here. People find joy in the little things in life in Madrid, such as taking a stroll through the city or going to a little shopping market with food and clothes.

Ebone with Mentor Dr. Ravi in Scotland

Ebone with Mentor Dr. Ravi in Scotland

Ebone Monk

These past few days have been very busy. The project is starting to take off, and I had a presentation to prepare. I’ll be sure to attach a copy. Dr. Ravi came to visit the department and attended a seminar.  Dr. Ravi, Dr. Seitz, and I were able to have a really long conversation about the goals of the project. I everyone seems to have great expectations. It should be fun!! I think my presentation went well. Although, I spoke quickly after the presentation was over everyone said they understood and thought the project was interesting. So the progress of the Beta-Pen: My first thoughts were to choose a scintillation material that would respond the beta energy we are trying to detect and sense the photons with a PIN photodiode. If you are not familiar with those, the “I” is an intrinsic un-doped layer between the PN junction that helps reduce the junction capacitance, which gives 2 benefits…. higher speed response as well as lower leakage current. BTW, I love electronics. So, I wanted to jump right into the electronics portion of the project.

Nacarri Murphy

While partaking in an academic and research driven exploration in Spain, I have attempted to immerse myself into the Spanish culture in every way possible. This attempt has proven to provide me with experiences that I could not have received in any other setting. In my blogs, these experiences are surely downplayed because there is honestly no way that I can express these experiences with enough detail for one to grasp the same life changing impacts that I feel on a daily basis through mere words. I truly believe my time here has changed me in more ways than I have even taken time to realize and/or reflect on. I do realize, however, that this is a once in a lifetime experience, and for that reason I try my best to optimize my productivity in every opportunity or task that I receive pertaining to personal and research experiences and development.

Chezlyn Patton 

Chezlyn in London

Chezlyn in London

I have been spending a great deal of time with my colleagues also doing research at the RVC, and as one could imagine, there are many different personalities and opinions. Recently, racial tensions have been high back in The States, and these issues are reaching me abroad. I have heard news about the debate to remove the confederate flag following the devastating hate crime committed in Charleston, SC, along with other racially charged conflicts. I’ve also gotten the news about marriage equality. But, some of my peers have been ignorant and insensitive toward these events, and it has taught me to both think about the things I say when trying to inform others, as well as how to decipher whether or not certain battles are worth fighting. As a Black woman, it is natural for me to want to inform others when they speak on racial issues from a blurred lens. So, I have been learning how to voice my perspective from a place of sincere enlightenment, not conflict.

Victoria Doctor

Essentially, we have hour long chats about my research topic and upcoming presentation. Then I would go to the computer lab to think about my research and presentation. Once my presentation was finished this week, I felt proud of myself for accomplishing a goal in such little time. Dr. Uli revised the presentation then helped me practice presenting. Other than working out the little kinks within the Latex code, my only assignment was to practice. Presentation day was on Wednesday. Other than two beginning math majors, I am the only math researcher on my level in the program. The rest of the students were chemistry, physics, or biology majors. I was nervous. I wanted my research topic to come across as clear as possible. After the event was over, I was told my topic was interesting and that some of the audience actually learned something new. My week was a success.

Brean in Scotland

Brean in Scotland

Brean Derrett

Lab has begun to get very busy this week because I am actually beginning my research and taking down data. On Wednesday, I gave a presentation about how my I plan to implement my project within the next few weeks and I was really nervous, but this helped me understand my research topic better and get constructive feedback from my lab advisor. Although it has been fun learning about my topic and being able to grow worms and bacteria is interesting, I have to be very patient all the time and make sure that all of my worms and agar plates are stocked, while still having to test the worms. I am not sure if I will pursue research as a career yet, but I know that I have so much respect for people who do research and spend hours, day in and day out, looking into a microscope. It really takes dedication and patience in order to plan and execute a research experiment and I hope that by the end of these six weeks, I will have gained some more insight into how researchers are able to do this.

Krista Montgomery

It’s  hard to believe that I have been in Madrid Spain for a month . I no longer feel like a tourist, but a local, which is quite interesting. Nothing major has happened in this week. Between going to the lab, cooking and occasionally taking a walk around the city I have become accustomed to the Spanish lifestyle. Some good news is that I finally had a break through with my research. I have finally collected some protein. It wasn’t a large sample  but it was enough to make an SDS page and start the next part of my research which is crystallization of the AKt1 protein collected. I am now excited to come back to Spelman and say that I have accomplished something major and present my research in the future.

Tayhlor Tanner

In the lab, we have sterilized the seeds of the generations, which we will look at and put them onto Petri dishes to grow. At this point, all we can do is wait on the plants to grow. This leaves my lab partner and I with time to explore the laboratory when it comes to what the other researchers are doing. This week, we helped a researcher carry out a protocol for the transformation of bacteria colonies, which he will use for further analysis. We have experience with the protocol from our Bio 125 class so it was refreshing to revisit this information and apply it to what is going on in lab now. We helped another researcher in analyzing trichomes on the leaves of the plants that she is studying. To do this we use a microscope to analyze plants that have been sterilized, plated, and allowed to grow for some time. The variety of branching from one to four branches stemming from the trichomes gives insight into the generations’ ability to regulate the cell cycle. Each day, my lab partner and I check our plants to see how they are growing. They are growing rapidly and we are anxious to be able to work with analyze them through genotype and phenotype in relation to our topic.

Courtney in France

Courtney in France

Courtney Lett

This Friday there will be another talk on machine learning that I am really looking forward to. I’ve been seriously considering pursuing a graduate degree in machine learning because it’s so fascinating to me. There are also a lot of ways computer vision can be applied in the field. Hearing the talks in French have made me that much more motivated to do further research in English so that I can fully understand the subject. Surprisingly most technical terms in French are pretty easy to recognize and they are very similar to the English translation.

Jett Bagley

This situation has taught me to be a bit more creative and resourceful than I usually am. In result, I have become a lot more relaxed as well. If something is late, it’s late but it will be completed. If something is missing, it’s missing but it will be found.  This experience has tremendously helped with my anxious tendencies, as I am now able to put things into perspective a way I wasn’t able to before. I find myself more accepting of my struggles. I am less worried about how and when there going to be fixed, and more focused on recognizing I am capable of fixing it. I’ve been able to look at situations with a level head, be honest about the amount of time a work I can give, be creative in solving the issue and successful in executing the solution.  I’ve been able to enjoy myself a lot more as well work a lot more efficiently.

KayCei Moton-Melancon

This week did not necessarily include a cultural experience with people, but rather exploring the city of Madrid. I visited several places a few being the Prado Museum, The Royal Palace, and San Gines Chocolatier. I attempted to fully immerse myself in Madrid culture, and I was surprised to find that most individuals who live in Madrid are not from Madrid. Thus I set out on a mission to find the various ethnic foods in Madrid. While I did not have a chance to visit every place on my list there is very authentic Chinese food as well as Turkish, Polish, and Portuguese food. Apart from food exploration, I participated in an in-line skating water balloon fight that takes place in the middle of the park every Saturday. In all, I can say that Madrid has been a pleasure and I look forward to what next weekend brings.

Deleonne Clark

I know I am a different person from when I left five weeks ago. Things that use to bother me don’t even phase me now. Why is it has this opportunity made me discover so much about myself than I ever have before? Through all of my difficulties, I am still having an amazing time. I am happy! Every day, I see something, or think of something that I have taken for granted and I appreciate it so much more. All the negative experiences I have encountered thus far has taught me that life goes on, time progresses, and that my experience is what I make it. I won’t let outside forced dictate the rest of my time here in Cordoba.

Jasmin Eatman

Thankfully I am beginning to see my project really unfold, as more and more data pours in. I am happy to see that I have been able to reach a large group of participants through being bold in going into different facebook groups and email servers to ask for help. At first, I was a bit concerned about doing that because I had never really used social media for research, but it is an amazing tool that can help to gather lots and lots of participants. Hopefully I will be able to reach my goal of 250 individual data sets, and at more than 150 in a week I think that the goal is very possible to attain. My research mentor continues to be very supportive although she is a bit more hands off at this point. I think she is allowing me to really take full control of my project and make it an independent learning opportunity. I really appreciate that she would think to give me the lead, and am excited to show her what I can do.

Micah Henson

Micah in Scotland

Micah in Scotland

My project is on the mechanics of heavy chains. I am building a model of the n-pendulum to simulate the movement of a heavy rope or chain. Thus far, I have learned ordinary differential equations and begun to learn Lagrangian mechanics. One of the most difficult parts of learning these new topics is that they use different notation for some of the same mathematical concepts that we use at Spelman. It sometimes takes a little longer to solve a problem because I have to keep the notation straight in my head. Outside of the time I spend meeting with my mentor, I work alone.

Akeela Lewis

I am finally adjusting to Spain I find myself being less uncomfortable when people are really close to me and I do not get bumped in the street as often. When I first arrived here most people knew that I was a tourist. Lately a lot of people have been coming up to me speaking Spanish or just starting conversations with me in Spanish while I’m in line at the store. Because of this I have been understanding more and more Spanish.

Martine Williams

The positive experiences I continue to experience here in Granada are the friendliness of the people. Often times, if I need help with something, such as finding an enzyme or a buffer in the freezer, one of the people working in my lab are always more than willing to go out of their way to help me. This is an aspect that I find very comforting of Spain and unexpected because I came here with just about no expectations of the people or the culture, expect that everyone would be speaking Spanish.  Experiencing such friendliness has definitely pushed me to be friendlier and more willing to help others who I see need it. Additionally, this is a difference I have noticed between home and here. We often see people who can be in need but we are so caught up in our own “busy” lives that we don’t have the time to stop and help.  It is the complete opposite here. Many people are not in such a rush as we are and are more relaxed, especially when it comes to working. We live to work, while the Spanish work to live. This is such a humbling experience to say the least.

Shelley in London

Shelley in London

Shelley Cobb

This week I had the opportunity to take a day trip to Cambridge, UK which is an extremely historic college town. It is a short 45 minute train ride from London. In the city, I along with other study abroad students, was able to visit some of the oldest colleges in the world (the oldest in the English speaking world) that are still in use. All of the historical buildings line the River Cam, and they can be seen via a river tour. I also had the opportunity to visit a pub called The Eagle which is where James Watson and Francis Crick would often visit and where they eventually announced the idea of a double helix structure of DNA (which was actually discovered by Rosalind Franklin).  In Cambridge I visited a candy store which seemed normal initially but I then found Poptarts as well as Lucky Charms on their shelves. I was quite confused as I do not consider those to be candy rather just regular grocery store foods.

Jaycee Holmes

In terms of my research, things are progressing quite well. Tuesday and Wednesday I spent with the PhD student examining the program and figuring out a way to prove a relationship between the distance of the control points and the longitudinal distance traveled by the car. However, we came to the conclusion that that would involve some background Taylor series and expanding integrals – which the PhD student has no knowledge in and I will not learn until the coming fall semester.  Plan B has become to create a program that will allow the user to input the given length and width of the car’s path and then find the distance between the control points. After computing a few thousand iterations of this I will be able to find a relationship between distance, width, and length. And then, hopefully, knowing my result, I will be able to find a way to mathematically prove it without expanding any integrals. This is what I am working on for the time being.

Sky Myers 

Sky in Madrid

Sky in Madrid

This weekend I am visiting a friend who is participating in a research program in Grenoble, France. I had not heard of the city before my friend mentioned their stay there, but after some researching I am very excited to experience Grenoble and all that it has to offer. I’m most looking forward to riding the cable car and trying unique French pastries and baked goods! I always try and find similarities and differences between the cities I visit.

Ebony Gaillard

I am having a great time in London!  This research and travel experience is moving by so fast, which I did not expect before embarking on this adventure.  On Saturday, I was able to meet with all of the Spelman G-STEM students studying in London at an urban food truck fest.  I enjoyed my time with my fellow Spelman sisters conversing about our experiences and lessons learned during our stay in London in addition to a great meal from the Le Bao food truck consisting of bao buns stuffed with chipotle chicken and rosemary fries.   Also, the Spelman meet-up allowed me to explore the London area around the Old Street Station since I had never went in that direction on the tube.

This week has been filled with more activities in the laboratory.  My lab partner and I work well together and we are both getting better at the techniques we use for our project. Previously, I have been using a supernatant instead of tissue to perform the procedures in my experiment but this week’s success has allowed me to move to a slightly different protocol.  We have currently moved on to spiking canine liver with a new batch of feline calicivirus and proceeding with the RNA extraction and the reverse transcription process. Each procedure that is performed in my project takes little time to do, it is the process of PCR and gel electrophoresis that requires waiting time.

Gabriela Atsepoyi

So far, we’ve hiked up and through the Monteverde Mountains a couple of times. We even had one day where we encouraged to take a hike and think about the areas we wanted to do research in. I am either interested in fungus in coffee plants and the effect fungicides have or pesticide use and the corresponding health issues in farms. Speaking of farms, a couple days ago we went to two different farms to compare the farming practices. The first farm we went to was so beautiful.

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