Summer in the chemistry lab: A satisfying science experience

Summer in the chemistry lab: A satisfying science experience

Posted by: on August 15, 2017   |Comment (1)|Student Engagement

It’s been a week since I finished summer research and life is different. It feels weird not being in the lab every day. I miss all the fun moments I had in the lab with the research team. I miss listening to hip-hop and R&B while working up a reaction. I miss getting lunch with my lab mates almost every day. Bianca, Matt, Gersham, Kyle, Yazan & I became so close that we all developed a special bond. We became so comfortable with each other that we would talk about anything. I would look forward to our lunch dates every day. We went to a lot of great restaurants Providence has to offer like The Abbey, Anthony’s, and many others on Thayer St., like East Side Pockets.

In the last few weeks of research, our biggest adventure was the 10th Annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Conference at the University of Rhode Island. The SURF program funds most of the research conducted over the summer throughout Rhode Island. In turn, researchers funded by SURF attend the conference and present their work. Our group presented our work by assembling a poster containing all the projects we worked on this summer. The conference was great because the team and I got to present all our hard work and got to see many other chemists, biologists, and biochemists. We were also hands-down the best dressed group at the conference! See the picture for yourself. We kept on receiving compliments from multiple people on how well dressed we were. It was nice to get dressed up and not wear sweatpants all day for once.

I am close to finishing my project which is a-carboline synthesis. I completed the final step of my project the day before the conference, and I produced high yields! Although summer research is over, that doesn’t mean my research is over. I plan on continuing my research in the fall. I’m looking forward to completing my project and all the chemistry that awaits me in the year to come!  I’d like to thank Dr. Mulcahy and the Providence College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for granting me the opportunity do research this summer. I have learned a lot, and I can’t wait to continue learning in the upcoming semester. I’d also like thank all of you for reading my blog and keeping up with all the exciting events that happened this summer.

Vincent Ndahayo

It’s been a week since I finished summer research and life is different. It feels weird not being in the lab every day. I miss all the fun moments I had in the lab with the research team. I miss listening to hip-hop and R&B while working up a reaction. I miss getting lunch with my lab mates almost every […]MORE

Halfway Through: Fun-Filled Summer Psychology Research

Posted by: on July 14, 2017   |Comments (0)|Student Engagement

Hi friends!

We are officially halfway through our summer research! We have been having a lot of fun in the lab working with kindergarteners. Our study focuses on early science learning, and how best to teach it. Specifically, we are concentrating on light. We are having a blast shining flashlights under tables, looking into dark boxes for toys, and playing with lasers and baking soda (there may or may not be baking soda permanently mashed into the carpet). The kids have a great time, and the parents are happy for the free babysitting for half an hour.

Along with all the fun aspects of conducting research, we have also learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes work of what actually goes on. In Developmental Psychology research it is difficult to recruit participants, so we have been sending many emails, creating ads, and maintaining social media accounts (shameless plug: if you know any five year olds, please send them our way!). On days we don’t have children coming in, we are entering data into the computer, transferring videos, and coming up with new ways to test our hypothesis. One thing we have really learned is the importance of trial and error. At the moment, we are redesigning the study to better manipulate our intended variables.

In addition to our regular day to day work, last week we had the opportunity to do an Instagram takeover for the Friargram account. We were able to show people our lab, our favorite spots to eat lunch, and even a trip to Home Depot to buy supplies. It was a great way to show people what it is that we do, and hopefully show future student researchers what a fantastic opportunity it is.

For the upcoming weeks, we have several things to look forward to. Soon we will be bringing our study into a preschool! This will allow us to collect a lot of data in a short amount of time. However, it will also be difficult, and we need to make some modifications to the study to make sure it’s applicable (we have nightmares of five year olds running around shining lasers in each other’s eyes).  Also, we are looking forward to the Annual RI SURF Conference. SURF, or the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, is a place where students can come together with other researchers and guests to share their summer work. We are excited to present what we are doing, and also see what other students are up to. Being involved in the sciences is a great way to learn through community.

Until next time!

The Kid Think Team

Hi friends! We are officially halfway through our summer research! We have been having a lot of fun in the lab working with kindergarteners. Our study focuses on early science learning, and how best to teach it. Specifically, we are concentrating on light. We are having a blast shining flashlights under tables, looking into dark […]MORE

Wordsworth 2017 Day Five: Intense Effort, Togetherness Leads to Fitting Tribute to Poet

Posted by: on July 14, 2017   |Comments (0)|Undergraduate Research

Our last day was a flurry of hard work, as the students assembled their final project: an exhibit in the Wordsworth Museum.

The Wordsworth Trust has a major grant to redesign its exhibitions, and Jeff Cowton, curator of the Wordsworth Trust, enlisted the class as part of their efforts: he wanted them to find a way to present literary manuscripts to the general public in an interesting way. That means finding the story each manuscript contains within it, and figuring out how to tell the story clearly and concisely, with impressive visual illustrations.

The class decided to tell the story of how a poem is made, and chose two examples. In the first, Wordsworth developed a new poem out of another he was already writing, and students told that story by overlaying two manuscript pages with clear plastic, using color-coded lines and text boxes to do so.  The poem, “Old Man Travelling, or Animal Tranquillity and Decay,” was one of the original Lyrical Ballads. Jeff praised their design, saying that no manuscript had ever been presented in that way, and that it represented a major step forward.

Their second example focused on revision and transcription of one of the most famous episodes from Wordsworth’s autobiographical poem, The Prelude: the stolen boat episode, an episode he wrote and rewrote for over 40 years. What impressed them was how many family members contributed to the composition process: William himself, his sister Dorothy, who produced the first fair copy of the poem in her best handwriting, his wife Mary, who also produced a full fair copy, his clerk John Carter, who transcribed the poem in his best handwriting, and his daughter Dora, who helped her father produce the last fair copy of the poem, the basis of the version published in 1850, after Wordsworth’s death.

So they placed a copy of the first edition, open to the stolen boat episode, in the center, and surrounded it with silhouettes of the contributors, and a sample of their handwritten versions of the opening lines of the episode, and they called the display “a family affair.”

And indeed it was, as was the project itself, since after two weeks of such intense effort and togetherness, we became a family, dedicated to the beautiful landscape of the English Lake District, and the poet and his family who lived and wrote there.

Bruce Graver

Our last day was a flurry of hard work, as the students assembled their final project: an exhibit in the Wordsworth Museum. The Wordsworth Trust has a major grant to redesign its exhibitions, and Jeff Cowton, curator of the Wordsworth Trust, enlisted the class as part of their efforts: he wanted them to find a […]MORE

Creating Change, Preserving Heritage in South Africa

Posted by: on July 13, 2017   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

Hey everybody!

For those who do not know me, my name is Delina (Dee), and I am a rising senior at Providence College – double majoring in Global Studies and Public and Community Service Studies with a minor in Black Studies.

I have now been in Cape Town, South Africa, for a few days, and I have finally adjusted to the time change. Being back in my favorite place in the world has me extremely grateful to Providence College and the Feinstein Institute for Public Service for the various research grants I have received and for choosing me to be the trip leader of the Global Service Learning trip.

Through the Global Service Learning trip, I will be taking part in a course at the University of Cape Town called “Social Infrastructures,” which includes various site visits and focuses on what it really means to engage with the local community in an intentional way. I took this course last year, and it introduced me to some of the most resilient communities I have ever encountered. I will also be spending an extra two weeks in Cape Town (one being this week before the group arrives and one after the group leaves to go back to the States) conducting two research projects. The first is with my adviser, Dr. Nick Longo, and the second will be alongside Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, a farmer and political activist at Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) – an agroecology site. I will be conducting interviews and focus groups to collect data in order to build a case for PHA to submit to the United Nations so that it can hopefully gain status as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems Site (GIAHS).

My first few days here have been full of lots of reading, research, and taking some time to become acquainted with this area of the city (since last year, I stayed a bit closer to the university). But, as much as I love to adventure around to coffee shops and take in the fresh (45 degree, YES, IT’S COLD HERE) air, this first week has to be full of research. As I sit in my room reading articles and taking notes on Philippi Horticultural Area, outside my window sits Lions Head – one of my favorite mountains in South Africa. Hiking is my number one favorite past time and although the mountains (one of my favorite parts about Cape Town) are calling me, I must do research. Being able to research in my favorite place reminds me of what a privilege it is to be a student of Providence College and the opportunities that have been provided to me by this institution.

Becoming a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System site (GIAHS) is not easy, and it requires a lot of support from not only the members of PHA, but also the City of Cape Town itself. One of the major reasons PHA desires to gain this status GIAHS is to have an international arm of support against City developers. PHA is a very special place because a little over a quarter of its surface area is a seasonal wetland. Through my research, I have found that it has a great history and heritage in agriculture. In the 1650’s the Khoi and San nomadic tribes would let their animals graze over this land, and in the 1850’s the Philippi Germans came and began agriculture here. They used various heritage techniques, one being no-till farming. However, during the apartheid state in South Africa thousands who were not considered to be “white” were forcibly relocated to this area known as the Cape Flats. This area became and still remains a place full of informal and formal settlements leaving less and less land for farming and greater food insecurity in Cape Town.

The land that remains (a little over 3,000 hectare) is the last of the land over the aquifer. This is important because this is what makes PHA so great for farming. The aquifer replenishes itself and allows over 4,000 farmers in Philippi to produce about 80% of the vegetables to the City of Cape Town, which is just about 200,000 tons of food. This is why PHA is known as the “breadbasket” of Cape Town. However, over the past few years developers have been attempting to gain permission to create housing developments on the remaining land over the aquifer. This is severely detrimental for a couple of reasons. First, it would deplete the only remaining land over the aquifer, which would not leave any land for agriculture. If no land is left for agriculture, the City would have to import vegetables and the prices would severely increase. Second, it would deplete livelihoods. This would cause more than 4,000 farmers to lose their jobs and their source of income.

Because of all of this, over 25 local organizations have formed the PHA Food and Farming Campaign against the City developers. The spokesperson of the campaign, Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, is who I am working alongside in this research. Although the PHA Food and Farming Campaign just recently had a large victory over the developers this past February/March by winning a court case against development, their battle is far from over.

This is where my research comes in. The interviews and focus groups I conduct will lead to data and narratives to be analyzed so that PHA can apply to be a GIAHS and hopefully gain status and increased protection against developers.

The end of this week will be filled with perusing through the South Africa National Library for important documents, going to the Cultural Heritage Museum, meeting on UCT’s campus with other researchers who have done work in Philippi, and forming more interview documents. This first preliminary week is all about setting the groundwork to propel me into researching alongside the activists and farmers in Philippi – so it is hard not to be excited. I am also preparing to do an Instagram and Snapchat takeover through PC’s @friargram account, so look out for details on that.

The rest of the PC group arrives on Sunday and then class, “Social Infrastructures,” will begin. I am really looking forward to class beginning and for the group to arrive! We will have an extremely packed schedule once class begins! I am quite busy but enjoy balancing all of these diverse roles!

Until next time! Sending a lot of love all the way from South Africa!

Delina

Hey everybody! For those who do not know me, my name is Delina (Dee), and I am a rising senior at Providence College – double majoring in Global Studies and Public and Community Service Studies with a minor in Black Studies. I have now been in Cape Town, South Africa, for a few days, and […]MORE

Wordsworth 2017 Day Four: Brainstorming for Exhibition

Posted by: on July 13, 2017   |Comments (0)|Student Engagement

Today, we started on our project for the week. First, we walked to the second floor of the museum to see the case where our project will be displayed. This was helpful because we saw how much space we had, which gave us an idea of what we could create. After this, we returned to the library to brainstorm ideas about the project. During our brainstorming session, we created a diagram detailing our ideas for the display. We chose excerpts from two of his poems, “Description of a Beggar” and the boat scene from “The Prelude.” For each manuscript, we chose different aspects of the manuscript to feature.

In “Description of a Beggar,” we asked our audience if they ever thought about the making of a poem to get them to think about different elements that go into the creation of a poem. We displayed the color of the ink written on the manuscript because this can tell a person when the manuscript was written. We learned newly written ink is usually black or blue, while older ink fades to brown. The size and color of the paper itself can also determine a manuscript’s age, as paper yellows and shrinks with age. We also established that revisions are important because they strengthen one’s understanding of Wordsworth’s additional thoughts that shaped his poem.

In “The Prelude,” we displayed members of Wordsworth’s family that contributed to his work, especially his sister Dorothy, wife Mary, and daughter Dora, who all copied his work on different occasions. Our main question would be “Have you ever thought about who writes a poem?” so that people would understand how multiple people come together to create one work.

After we created our diagram, we presented our ideas to Jeff. I greatly enjoyed this activity because my peers and me collaborated to better understand each other’s points of view. This allowed me to see these manuscripts in a way I had never seen before, which helped me understand them even more clearly. I’m looking forward to creating this project tomorrow and learning more of my classmate’s ideas on these manuscripts to help me better understand Wordsworth’s poems.

Diane LaMattina

Today, we started on our project for the week. First, we walked to the second floor of the museum to see the case where our project will be displayed. This was helpful because we saw how much space we had, which gave us an idea of what we could create. After this, we returned to […]MORE