Student Research - Providence College Blogs

Starting Off: First Lab Experience

Posted by: on June 16, 2017   |Comments (0)|Student Engagement

Hello – My name is Vincent Ndahayo, and I am a rising junior at Providence College. I am from Manchester, NH, and I have five siblings (three sisters and two brothers). I am the second oldest, and I was born in Tanzania. I am a chemistry major, and I am doing research this summer with Dr. Seann Mulcahy in his organic chemistry lab. This is my first blog ever so this is a new thing for me, and I hope you enjoy reading it. I will be updating you throughout the summer on what conducting summer research is like at PC.

Doing summer research has been one of the goals I have wanted to accomplish while I am in college, and I am very thankful for having the opportunity. I have not taken organic chemistry yet, so my experience for the first three weeks in lab have been completely new. I was nervous and anxious about doing research in the lab because I believed that I was going to do something so bad that I would be kicked out of the lab. Or, I would do something embarrassing that I would not be able to show my face lab ever again. However, I was also excited to do work in the lab because I was eager to learn all the joys of research, especially the potential for creating something new to the science community and the world.

My research is centered around making new molecules from scratch. The picture attached to this blog are two reactions I set up. Dr. Mulcahy has explained to me multiple times how the goal of our research this summer is to use new methods to synthesize molecules that can potentially be used as pharmaceuticals. I would like to pursue a career in pharmacy, and I believe doing research this summer will be a step in the right direction.

I am working with five other students this summer. The other members of the research team are: Bianca, the only senior on the team this summer; Gersham, the only returning member from Dr. Mulcahy’s lab group; Matthew, a cool guy; and my classmates from this past year, Yazan and Kyle. I enjoy coming into lab everyday doing work with this group. We all get along well, and we are always playing music in lab so it’s a fun work atmosphere. It’s like a competition every day to see who will play music first. We all have different taste in music so whenever someone plays music, someone is always complaining about the music. For example, Matt is always joking around about Bianca’s music being too aggressive because she plays a lot of hip hop. Then when Matt or Kyle play their country music, Bianca and Yazan complain.

Dr. Mulcahy has been very patient with all of us, especially Kyle, Yazan, and me because he has taught us how to do everything we need to know due to our lack of experience in an organic chemistry lab. He is always around the lab helping everyone out with their projects.

My first three weeks of research have been worthwhile, and I have got to spend them with some great people. Stay tuned for my next blog in where I will explain in more detail about the new experiences and reactions I have learned about in lab. Until next time, have a great day and see you soon!

Vincent Ndahayo ’19

Hello – My name is Vincent Ndahayo, and I am a rising junior at Providence College. I am from Manchester, NH, and I have five siblings (three sisters and two brothers). I am the second oldest, and I was born in Tanzania. I am a chemistry major, and I am doing research this summer with […]MORE

Wordsworth 2017 Day One: Understanding the Poet’s Human Side

Posted by: on June 6, 2017   |Comments (0)|Undergraduate Research

Maymester in England
A group of English majors recently spent the week abroad in England as part of the Maymester course, Wordsworth in the Lake District. After a week of study at PC, the students traveled to Grasmere, William Wordsworth’s home in the picturesque English Lake District. Below is the first of five daily posts that recap the group’s time in the U.K.

Our first day started with a tour of the area that Wordsworth lived in during his time at Grasmere. Upon our arrival at the Wordsworth Trust, we enjoyed tea time with our instructors and snacked on homemade gingerbread, which is somewhat of a delicacy to locals and others who find out about it. We briefly relaxed as we were informed of the tasks that lie ahead of us throughout the week.

After we finished our tea and snacks, we were given a personal tour of Dove Cottage, the home where Wordsworth composed a large number of his most influential poems. We got to see the very bedroom that he slept in, the kitchen that he ate in, and the garden where he looked out upon the mountain range of Grasmere. This opportunity allowed us to see a more human side of Wordsworth that is often forgotten when one finds himself lost in the genius of Wordsworth’s words. The tour also gave us the opportunity to stand in the very footsteps of a successful poet while looking out onto the nature that inspired him most.

Seeing the beauty of the scenery that surrounds his home from a first-hand perspective makes me understand why he appears so awestruck in his poems. Together we stood at the highest point in Wordsworth’s garden while overlooking the hillside. After we finished in Dove Cottage, we chatted with our instructor, Jeff Cowton, about how to improve the current status of the museum in order to gain a larger crowd of clientele.

Katherine FitzMorris

Maymester in England A group of English majors recently spent the week abroad in England as part of the Maymester course, Wordsworth in the Lake District. After a week of study at PC, the students traveled to Grasmere, William Wordsworth’s home in the picturesque English Lake District. Below is the first of five daily posts […]MORE

Capping off the summer in the chemistry lab

Posted by: on August 11, 2016   |Comments (0)|Walsh Fellows

Welcome back, guys!

Well, the biologists won the wiffle ball game 11–10. I, however, think that the chemists had a better spirit, and we should have gotten bonus points for having professors participating on our team.

The last week of research consisted of finishing up summer trials and preparing for research in the fall semester. For many of the researchers, that also included preparing a poster to present at the 9th Annual RI SURF Conference. SURF, or the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, helps undergraduate researchers in Rhode Island fund their summer research, and most research students in Rhode Island come together with faculty and guests to share their work at the end of the summer. I presented my research last year and had a complete blast.

brianna-lastThis year, however, I did not make a poster for the conference (we’re saving our findings for the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco!), but I still made an appearance and learned what everyone was up to in Al Mag this summer. Here’s a picture of the chemistry kids wearing something other than sweatpants for the first time in two months.

I also learned about what the other departments were up to – from tracking circadian rhythms in rats to isolating predatory bacteria, Providence College researchers sure got a lot done!

To celebrate the success of the SURF Conference, Dr. Mulcahy invited the undergraduate research chemists, the professors, and their families to his house for a barbecue/potluck! Even though I made a poor showing by just bringing some lemonade, the day was filled with burgers, homemade guacamole, hot-pockets, and Oreo-themed dessert! We also managed to play a few rounds of Spike-Ball despite our incapacitated stomachs.

Then, unfortunately, it was time to say goodbye to the summer crew; but a goodbye for scientists usually never lasts more than a few weeks! Unlike other fields of study where research occurs primarily in the summertime, research in Albertus Magnus continues year-round. I’ll continue my research with Dr. Breen as well; you won’t be able to kick me out of that lab until I graduate. Looking forward, I’m going to be researching how cell membranes interact with plastic nanoparticles, keeping in line with my ocean-themed research.

To cap off the summer, I’m going to leave you with an insight from one of our chemistry professors that I think captures the essences of what goes on in Friartown when the rest of campus has gone home: “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be research” – Dr. Overly

Research is all about reaching out into uncharted territory in creative and practical ways. You hardly ever know the answer or if there is going to be an answer; and sometimes that can get frustrating, but it’s a small price to pay for being a part of the community set to solve the world’s problems and uncover mysteries that the Earth has left buried for us to find.

Thanks to everyone who kept up with my adventures in and out of the lab in the summer. If you need to find me, I’ll be reading science-y books and lounging by my pool until they let me back in the Fall!

Bri

Welcome back, guys! Well, the biologists won the wiffle ball game 11–10. I, however, think that the chemists had a better spirit, and we should have gotten bonus points for having professors participating on our team. The last week of research consisted of finishing up summer trials and preparing for research in the fall semester. […]MORE

Moving into Meaning

Posted by: on July 25, 2016   |Comments (0)|Veritas Grant

laurameaghanHi everyone!

I think that it’s time to update you on the progress that has been made this summer! Dr. Hauerwas and I have been busy looking into the 1,500 sentences that we coded. The important thing to look into is what patterns you notice. Little things such as tone of voice, point of view, and word choice are very important in this step! We separately come up with what we think is meaningful and then have meetings where we will discuss what stood out to us and why. After we talk, we create a paragraph that summarizes what we have found, which will help us be able to write the paper that summarizes the research that has been carried out!

The Italian students reaction to the study abroad program Providence College offers has been positive. The Italian elementary-aged students stated, “I’ve learned that there are many people all over the world; we can communicate even if we’re from different countries,” and “The world is made of different cultures, which must be respected” — among many other meaningful sentences. Through these two responses you can see that the Italian students gained global competence and awareness. It is important to respect those who live outside your home country’s borders, and the Italian students are showing that they understand that more due to having an American pre-service teacher in their classroom.

slavinOverall, this experience had been very educational, as I have learned what it means to carry out qualitative analysis. As I look into graduate programs for next year, I am keeping in mind how beneficial this experience has been and am looking at places where I can apply the knowledge I gained from it. This opportunity has helped me learn various skills that I will use in the future — whether it be teaching in a classroom or looking into new teaching programs and strategies!

Where is my favorite research spot you may ask? Well, the Slavin Overlook lounge never does me wrong. It has a great atmosphere, perfect lighting, and Dunkin just happens to be nearby!

Hope everyone’s summer is going well!

Meaghan

Hi everyone! I think that it’s time to update you on the progress that has been made this summer! Dr. Hauerwas and I have been busy looking into the 1,500 sentences that we coded. The important thing to look into is what patterns you notice. Little things such as tone of voice, point of view, […]MORE

Life in the lab: Back at home (and missing Max)

Posted by: on July 15, 2016   |Comments (0)|Walsh Fellows

Hi guys!

After more than a month of wandering around Al Mag, I’m finally moving into my renovated lab! That means I’m going to spend the majority of the day carting chemicals back and forth and attacking things with a label maker. Unpacking boxes also means finding objects that have been hiding in a lab for 20 years and attempting to find a spot for them. How am I supposed to categorize an old computer mouse, a pink geode crystal that looks like it was purchased from an aquarium, and a mysterious wooden box labeled ‘government property?’

Max is not having nearly as much fun as I am this summer — he suddenly entered a coma during one of our trials. He refused to respond and is currently in New Jersey seeking treatment.

Although this tragedy set us back quite a bit, Roger Williams University down the road in Bristol, R.I., offered for us to come down and use their fluorometer while Max is recovering. We’ve also spent some time at URI this summer — proving that science really is about collaboration. That chemistry collaboration also exists within the Providence College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. There’s actually so much collaboration that I convinced my fellow researchers in the department to star in a little video that I decided to make one afternoon as a spoof of The Office.

Despite taking group trips to the grocery store, going on coffee runs to several different places, and hanging out with friends and seeing Finding Dory (in addition to shooting and editing that entire video), I promise I do actually get work done in lab. We just finished collecting all of the data for the Extended Lipid Hypothesis project last week and are slowly chipping away at writing the paper. I consolidated all of the data into graphs for the easiest display and wrote the “experimental,” or the procedure, so far. Hopefully it’ll be published in time for me to apply to graduate school!

Since I’m done collecting data for that project, I’m focusing more heavily on my second project while the paper is coming together. The second project I’m working on consists of radiating different plastics, specifically polystyrene and PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) with UV light and observing how their chemical structure changes as a result. When plastics come in contact with UV light for an extended period of time, the UV light breaks weaker bonds in the structure of the plastics and creates substances with odd-numbered electrons known as free radicals. These free radicals then react with the other particles of plastic and with each other — altering the chemistry of the plastic.

We monitor the plastics, furthermore, in water, and eventually hope to study this degradation of plastic in a mock-ocean environment. That way we can hope to better understand how plastics in our ocean affect the environment so we can work on preventing those effects!

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more information on my summer research in Friartown (and the much more important Chemistry vs. Biology wiffle ball game rumored to happen this weekend)!

Bri

Hi guys! After more than a month of wandering around Al Mag, I’m finally moving into my renovated lab! That means I’m going to spend the majority of the day carting chemicals back and forth and attacking things with a label maker. Unpacking boxes also means finding objects that have been hiding in a lab […]MORE