It’s still technically summer, so I don’t feel bad about talking about summer semester even though we’re two weeks into the fall semester now.
I did make it through the summer and learned a good deal. The axolotls were a lotl fun and, as expected, working way outside my comfort zone and expertise was great for my mind. The labs of James Monaghan and Justin Crane were welcoming and had unending patience for their somewhat helpless REU students.
By the end of the summer, I could run protocols based on techniques that I read in passing science magazines and never thought I would try. I learned all about axolotl husbandry; something I never expected to see on my resume…
One of the genes important in regulating cell proliferation in regeneration is called Sonic Hedgehog!
With my partner, I made a technical poster with all the trappings of a professional science poster (Ask me about it sometime). We talked about some cutting edge experimental methods to make mice missing certain genes, but to change their genes only in a particular tissue and only when we decided to change their genes. We also had images of tissue samples from the mice that were lit up with fancy colors because we were doing a fluorescent analysis of RNA from genes we wanted to look at.
These are little bits attached to RNA that are lit up using a fluorescent microscope
Finals finished last Wednesday and I’m still in shock that I’m not loaded with schoolwork right now. I will be starting an awesome co-op studying axolotl regeneration at Northeastern, researching under two professors with a great reputation. I’ll send pictures once I meet them and get permission. My co-op does not start until May 27th, so I have a month of time that’s not committed. It’s not exactly a vacation, but I’m glad for the chance to hang out with my parents and my siblings that have not gone off to college yet.
There’s always a to-do list. This is prime-time for building scholarship applications. I’m applying for the Wentworth Endowment Scholarship and a Google scholarship for attending conferences. The only conference I could go to without taking too much time off work is a Diversity in Computing event in Georgia. I’ve never been to Georgia, an ACM conference, or a diversity celebration event, so I expect the conference to be enlightening, assuming I get the funds.
Last Thursday was the Wentworth career fair. All the students were doing their best to look appealing and professional. Many still had haircuts from over break, because apparently that’s what people do during breaks. Nearly every one of my peers had donned ties or skirts for the occasion, and it was a treat to see so many of them dressed up.
I went with the intent of talking to employers and scouting their departments. The Friday previous, I had committed to work for the summer doing biological research at Northeastern. I found a host of great companies, but most of them did not know they needed applied math majors yet. Of a gym full of employers, only 4 marked that they were looking for applied math majors. Lincoln Labs was the one that looked most enticing. I had a diverting and semi-fruitful job convincing the employers that they were indeed in need of math majors.
Also during this week, I have been accepted to two more co-ops in California and in Wisconsin as well as the Select Scholars program I was talking about before. I guess my trick is to apply broadly ask Lauren from Coops and Careers to make sure my application materials are hire-worthy. The more difficult task is keeping school priorities straight, but most students know how to prioritize academics.