Gaining Independence in the Lab

Gaining Independence in the Lab

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

 

Hello everyone,

It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Friartown. The sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! For the first couple weeks of research, it was raining and always cold outside, as if it were October. One of my lab mates, Yazan, who is from Jordan, asked us in lab one day “Is this how summer is here in Rhode Island?” We told him that the weather we experienced the first few weeks of research was very unusual, especially for May and June. We also told Yazan that New England weather is very unpredictable and to always be ready for anything.

I have completed my first five weeks of research and I feel like the time is flying by. I feel like 2017 is flying by, and I will be graduating in no time. Now that I am halfway done with summer research, I now have a good feel for the lab and I know where almost everything is. I run experiments on my own, and Dr. Mulcahy does not have to shadow everything I do anymore. It feels great to do the work on my own and to know that whenever I have questions Dr. Mulcahy, is around to help. In the remaining five weeks, I will be running completely new chemical reactions and doing completely new science. I’m excited to be doing new science and it is one of the many joys of research. Be on the lookout for some new chemistry coming your way soon!

On another note, there is a lot of construction happening on campus this summer, but the project I’m most excited about is the construction of the new science complex. When I walk to lab every day, I pass the construction site and see all the hard work being done. In fact, where my lab is located, I have a perfect view of all the construction that is happening to the science complex. However, it can be frustrating to work while there is construction. One time I was trying to weigh out one of my reagents for a reaction and I could not get a steady number for the weight. It was due to the construction workers who were taking out a sidewalk and causing the ground to shake. Then, one other time this summer the construction triggered the fire alarm and everyone had to evacuate the building. Minor things like that are not a big deal because when the science complex will be finished, it will all be worth it in the end. The science complex will open fall 2018 – the fall semester of my senior year. I’m looking forward to working in the new labs and doing work in the new complex.

Vincent Ndahayo

  Hello everyone, It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Friartown. The sun is out, the days are longer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! For the first couple weeks of research, it was raining and always cold outside, as if it were October. One of my lab mates, Yazan, who […]MORE

Kicking Off the Summer in the Kid Think Lab

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

Hello!

We are just beginning week third of our summer research. This summer we have three research assistants working in the lab.

Danielle, a Rhode Island native, is a rising senior psychology major and also earning a business studies certificate. She hopes to become a school psychologist. Last summer, she worked at a daycare as a kindergarten teaching assistant and is excited to work in the lab this summer doing a study with kindergarteners!

Emily is a rising senior psychology major with a history minor. She is from Massachusetts and hopes to one day become a speech and language pathologist. She worked this past semester as an intern at the Groden Center, which is a school for children with autism. She looks forward to this summer in the lab and starting her own research project in the fall.

Caitlin is a rising senior psychology major with a French minor in the Liberal Arts Honors Program. She is from New York and loves working with children – having spent time as a nanny and summer camp counselor. She enjoyed taking “Experimental Developmental Psychology” with Dr. Van Reet this past spring and is delighted to work in the lab for the summer doing research.

This summer we look forward to continuing the Caplan study that we have been working on this year. This study is a joint research project with Dr. Van Reet of the psychology department and Dr. Zhang of the education department. The study focuses on investigating the effectiveness of play and guidance in early science learning. We are looking forward to finding new fun ways to recruit participants for our study and can’t wait to have more kindergarteners come in and participate!

We are so excited for the summer in the Kid Think Lab!

-The Kid Think Team

Hello! We are just beginning week third of our summer research. This summer we have three research assistants working in the lab. Danielle, a Rhode Island native, is a rising senior psychology major and also earning a business studies certificate. She hopes to become a school psychologist. Last summer, she worked at a daycare as […]MORE

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

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

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