Hello World (again)

Sorry that I don’t update this blog as much as I should. I have never really been that good at regularly recording journal entries…

Anyway over the past few weeks, I’ve unfortunately had to say goodbye to two other interns in our lab, Valeria and Ashley. Both have become good friends of mine in the short time that I got to spend with them. I definitely want to wish them luck on pursuing their goals and I hope that we get to see each other again. Plus, the internet is always there to help with keeping in touch!

On the Fourth of July, we had quite a bit of fog here in Berkeley. Unfortunately, this meant that unless I went to San Francisco for the night, I wasn’t going to see any fireworks. I don’t necessarily regret my decision to stay in though; some of my friends who went to San Francisco that night said that the public transit was a nightmare. Plus, there were a lot of fireworks being posted on Facebook, so it was like I was there in spirit or something!

In other news, my housemates are 100% set on hosting a pool party; they’ve already bought an inflatable backyard pool! I’ve never really been a pool party enthusiast, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited for this to happen. Some of us are also planning to see Inside Out or Ted 2 very soon. I honestly want Inside Out to happen, since Ted 2 reminds me too much of Family Guy and I honestly can’t stand that show…But if Ted 2 is what the majority wants to watch, then I’ll still go. I’ll just use the power of craft beers and indie games to apologize to my inner hipster afterward.

Let’s see, other things to talk about…OH YEAH, I KNOW WHAT TO TALK ABOUT. Recently, I have been abandoning all efforts pertaining to exercise and healthy eating. But yesterday, I have successfully motivated myself to ask about a gym membership for the remainder of my time in California. The people at the Recreational Sports Facility said that normally they charge community members $90 for a month, UC Berkeley students $10, but since I am an affiliate with LBNL, I actually get a free 30-day trial…I literally do not need to pay ANYTHING to have a membership for the rest of my internship here. Needless to say, I’m very happy with this outcome and hope to fall back into a schedule before coming back to Juniata for the fall semester!

As far as official lab work goes, we are kind of in a stand-still until the servers are ready for me to work on further analysis of our sequenced metagenomes. Basically, I am spending all of my time at work refining the current analysis and updating my submissions/poster draft. Neslihan also mentioned that she has a friend as Stanford University who is doing medical research using bioinformatics techniques. Since I only have experience with bioinformatics as it pertains to microbial ecology, this sounded very interesting to me. Fortunately, Neslihan was able to set up an appointment for me to meet with her colleague and learn more about this research in a few weeks. I’m very excited for this opportunity and hopefully it gives me more insight and direction for my professional career!

That’s about it for now. But before I go, here is the close-up picture of the squirrel that I promised forever ago!

Professional photo cred to Ashley Kim.

Professional photo cred to Ashley Kim.

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Yeah, I Lied

So remember when I said that I was going to make two blog posts last week? Yeah, it didn’t happen. Last week was pretty quiet here, as this week is shaping up to be. I find it difficult to write these mandatory blogs when there isn’t really that much to talk about…or maybe I’m just becoming a bit desensitized to everything. I have been here for almost an entire month, after all. Regardless, here are some slightly interesting things that have happened to me recently:

I saw Jurassic World last week – it was pretty over-hyped in my opinion. I also signed up for a Six Flags trip this-coming weekend, so I’m super excited for that! And yesterday, I was within arm’s length away from a squirrel. Squirrels don’t really run away from people here…and no, they don’t all have rabies. Either way, it was pretty cool and I’ll post the picture after I get my friend to send it to me.

Things at work are going pretty well. Since I don’t know which graduate school I want to attend, or even if I want to take a year off after graduation, some of the internship organizers here said that I can reapply to the SULI program for next fall and probably get a job working in the lab for the spring. That way, I build more experience to take with me into graduate school. While I am considering it, I’m not sure how I would feel about taking a year off before plunging back into my education. Part of me feels like I’d lose my momentum coming out of Juniata while, on the other hand, gaining more experience before going to graduate school is rarely a bad thing.

Either way, I have a lot to think about for the next few weeks.

Whoops

Hello all,

Firstly, I’d like to apologize about not blogging on Saturday. This weekend was consumed by a massive urge to watch the new season of Orange is the New Black…so yeah, sorry about that. BUT to make up for it, I’ll do two (that’s right, TWO) blog posts this week, starting with this one!

So last week, you didn’t miss much. My time was mostly spent trying to figure out what exactly I should be doing in the lab. Since my work is mostly all computer-based and doesn’t involve me messing around with chemicals, I spend most of my time unsupervised. With the lack of supervision, that means two things: (1) I get to go on YouTube when I get bored or stuck and (2) I am basically figuring out how to analyze functional metagenomic data as I go along. Neslihan iand I have basically just been meeting every day to go over my progress, and so far she is happy with my work. I guess that means I’m doing something (somewhat) right! But yeah, enough about that.

In other news, there were a ton of goats on the hill by our cafeteria last week; when I say a ton, I mean A WHOLE LOT OF GOATS. Naturally, I just had to take a picture of this. At the lab, they apparently use the goats as natural lawnmowers to help prevent fires. Totally had no clue this was even a thing here!

Anyway, that is pretty much all that I have right now. I’ll be sure to update if anything interesting happens!

The First Week

Hello, everyone!

Today marks the end of my first week in California…actually this is even the first time I have lived outside of Pennsylvania. Considering this, I was super nervous upon leaving from the Philadelphia airport, but I took my mind off of it by sleeping for most of the plane ride. Upon my arrival in San Francisco, I quickly discovered that the weather is delightfully mild here. In fact on my first day of being in California, the temperature was moderate, the sun was bright, and there was a very slight breeze which all made for some incredibly welcoming weather.

I managed to find my way over to Berkeley where I am staying for the rest of the summer. I also met Anna Lisa, one of the two sisters who manage my housing facility. She is incredibly funny and energetic, as well as extremely environmentally conscious which is a nice change from back home. Actually, a lot of people around here pay very close attention to their impact on the environment and most businesses strive to only produce compostable/recyclable waste products – say goodbye to styrofoam and hello to compostable plastic!

On my first day in California, I stumbled past sooooooooo many food places – they have everything from burgers with avocado to sushi (my first lunch and dinner, respectively). Walking around in a larger urbanized area is a world of a difference from the small town-like setting to which Juniata has me accustomed; I usually find myself becoming rather lost whenever venturing outside. Fortunately we live in the age of the smartphone, so I can always manage to find my way back home!

Even though the UC Berkeley campus is rather close to the lab in proximity, I have quickly realized that they are not affiliated with each other that much at all. I was originally under the impression that I would be doing research in an academic institution, but in actuality I found that I am going to be working in a government-funded research facility. I was not entirely aware of this distinction until after a few days on the job, but realizing this makes me even more excited about being here!

On orientation day, we were shown around the lab complex and – like the rest of Berkeley – it is HUGE. I remember initially being blown away by how many buildings they operate in…somewhere around 80 or 90. My group of interns were shown to the auditorium, where we sat through a boring presentation on things that were already communicated to us through email and afterwards we did a few ice-breaker activities to introduce ourselves. I could see why this is important stuff to do on the first day, but I didn’t care that much in the moment; I was just eager to meet my research mentor, Dr. Neslihan Tas of the Earth Sciences Division. Neslihan is a close friend and colleague of Dr. Lamendella’s, so they have been talking about me for the time leading up to the internship. All good things…or at least that’s what they’ve told me…

Neslihan gave me a small tour of the lab building that I’d be working in, treated me to lunch in the cafeteria, and showed me how to adjust my desk space for maximum comfort while on the job. She also gave me some background information and reference material on what my project would involve before also adding, “Oh, right. The bathroom is down the hall and around the corner. Sometimes I forget to tell people about that.”

I also met another intern in my lab, a sophomore named Ashley. She seems like the type of person who works hard at what she does, but is able to maintain a sense of calmness which I think is awesome! While I am in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program, she is participating in the Community College Internship (CCI). Fortunately, all of our requirements as far as submitting deliverable documents to the SULI and CCI organizers are pretty much the same, so we can help each other not miss any deadlines.

As far as actual work goes for this week, it was mainly just reading the scientific journal references, wrapping my head around functional metagenomics (as I have never worked with them before), and settling into the office space. I do know that I did some damage to the printer’s paper supply; I prefer to print out things before I read them, which is pretty ironic since most of my work is done on a computer anyway.

All-in-all, this week was primarily just focused around getting used to the changes in personal lifestyle as well as building research momentum to take into next week, which is when I will actually begin working on the project.