Rice, Round Two: Opportunities and Decisions, Dates, Deadlines

It’s the start of the second semester of my second year at Rice, and I already have several new things to consider: new classes, new professors, new opportunities. In addition, I have new responsibilities – namely, figuring out my academic plans and declaring my major(s). Thankfully, I took care of the latter task at the end of my freshman year, but there is still more to do. Now that I know what I’m majoring in, I have to start figuring out which classes to take and when, decide between various job and internship opportunities, and try to gain research experience in the fields of psychology that interest me the most. Sophomore year has been a treat to say the least, and I am continuously adapting to the varied aspects of the college experience.

It’s not all tedious tasks and distressing deadlines, though. Sophomore year has given me so many opportunities that I am thankful for. Two highlights include my role as a research assistant in one of Rice’s largest psychology labs, as well as my on-campus job. Continue reading

Rice in South Carolina!

I’ve had a whirlwind end of school year and summer!

At the end of the school year I participated in a fundraising event for an organization called St. Baldricks focused on raising money to support research towards the cure to children’s cancer. In order to raise money, I pledged to shaved my head on April 24th. Over the course of 3 weeks, I raised almost $2,000 and raised awareness for children’s cancer around Rice’s campus! The day of the shave ended up being a huge success and helped bring the Rice community together for a good cause.

A few weeks later, I flew down to Charleston, South Carolina for a summer research experience (Research Experience Undergraduates funded by the National Science Foundation – Minorities in Marine and Environmental Sciences) and had been having an amazing summer so far. Not only am I getting valuable research experience, learning how to structure and write my own research paper, but I am also getting to explore Charleston for the entire summer. While working here, I even had the great opportunity to meet a Rice Graduate School Alum working on my project with me. Dr. Dan Bearden got his Masters in 1983 and PhD in 1987 in Physics from Rice University and is now working here in the Hollings Marine Lab using nuclear magnetic resonance to discover metabolic trends in marine animals. We’ve been able to chat about all things Rice as well as marine and environmental sciences over the course of the summer

All in all, I’ve had some wonderful learning experiences this summer but I’m still very excited to get started back at Rice in the next couple of weeks!

Me in Winyah Bay, South Carolina holding a wild Red drum (my focal species for the summer)

Me in Winyah Bay, South Carolina holding a wild Red drum (my focal species for the summer)

Me and Dr. Dan Bearden, a Rice alum and current student

Me and Dr. Dan Bearden, a Rice alum and current student

My Summer in Japan

This is a guest post written by Lisa Chiba, a junior Chemical Engineering major who did research in Japan over the summer.

While watching everyone travel to foreign exotic countries to study abroad, you might be wondering, is there such a thing as an internship abroad?  My name is Lisa Chiba, and I am a rising junior chemical engineering major at Lovett. This summer, I was a participant of the NanoJapan Program, an undergraduate experience which takes 12 students from across the nation to Japan for a research internship for the summer. The application was lengthy but straightforward: 3 essays, and 2 recommendation letters. (Link to the site: http://nanojapan.rice.edu/.) I decided to apply because I wanted to have international work experience during my undergraduate years while also having a supportive team of US and Japanese researchers to help me through the transition to another country. Now that the program is over, I can wholeheartedly say that this has been a great opportunity to have an immersive study abroad experience with the application of nanotechnology/terahertz research in the top labs in Japan.

I was placed in the Kawata Lab in Osaka University under the guidance of a post-doc and a graduate student. My topic was tailored to my interests in biology by my host professor; I studied deep ultraviolet excitation of fluorescent proteins for multi-color cell imaging, which is a method that has never been done before. That’s right, you’re researching into something that no one has before… you get to make genuine progress on a project that has a chance to get published!

Attending the Shirahama Conference with my two labmates! (I'm in the center!)

Living and working in Japan was easily the best adventure of self-discovery I’ve ever had. I never thought I would be able to study abroad because of the cost, and I really wanted to spend my time productively gaining experience through an internship. NanoJapan is NSF-funded, so you get a stipend to cover your stay in Japan. It also places you in challenging projects with famed professors in the nanotechnology/terahertz world. Along with the research opportunity, you become so close to the other NanoJapan students from around the country, and your labmates in your respective university, that you don’t want to leave after spending 12 weeks in Japan. It’s an experience I will always remember, and with the professional network I developed, I may return to the Land of the Rising Sun another time in the future.

Global Urban Lab!

It's a bird...It's a plane...It's Global Urban Lab!

Recently, posters like the one above have been cropping up around campus. What exactly is Global Urban Lab, you might ask? It certainly is not the type of lab that comes to mind when one mentions ‘chem lab,’ but is instead one of the many study abroad opportunities available to students here at Rice. Rather than fusing chemicals, Global Urban Lab (GUL) seeks to ‘fuse’ major cities across the world in order to shed light on and to address the challenges facing them today. GUL participants do so by performing investigative research in their city of choice (London, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, or Shanghai) on their theme of choice (healthcare, sports, transportation, immigration, or development).  Research aside, the programs also include internships and transferable social science credit.

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Research Presentations

Last December a friend of mine told me about the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and encouraged me to apply with him. Although we had completed separate projects in different disciplines (he is an anthropology major and I am all about art history), our proposals were both accepted and we were invited to present at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in mid-April.

Interested in learning how I secured funding for the presentation? Or how I even conducted original research? Well, read on my dears!

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It’s Snowing!

… but not in Texas.

Several weeks ago I found myself caught in a snowstorm. And, in true snowstorm style, I reheated pizza and climbed into bed to do some reading, carefully positioning myself so as to optimally view the weather outside my window. As you may have guessed (although I did tell you in the first line), I wasn’t in Houston. Nope. I was somewhere much cooler (appreciate the pun). Continue reading