Thursday, June 23, 2016

Skills and Knowledge I Want to Acquire

Since I will be working in a scientific research laboratory, I would like to learn more about biology.  To be specific, I want to learn about biological noise and genetic diversity and how proteins affect gene expression.  I also want to know how research is conducted in a wet lab.  Through my internship, I also want to learn how to develop scientific presentations and how to present to a scientific audience.  I also want to be able to present my research via presentation board and make it attractive and aesthetically pleasing for the audience.

Personally, I want to fix my procrastination issue and do all of my work on time.  Procrastination has been a longtime issue for me, and if I do continue this behavior, it will only make things harder for me in the future.  I also want to improve my motivation and dedication to science through my internship.  I want to be more invested in science since I do want to pursue a career in this field.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Skills to Acquire

I would like to learn how to conduct myself in a lab. Having taken high school science classes before, I clearly know the basic safety protocol. However, I have not worked in a research lab and I hope to learn the appropriate measures to use. Not only that, but I would like to learn how to behave in a professional setting. It will help me acquire a taste for the working environment that will benefit me in the future. I hope to learn how to give scientific research presentations to a group of people. This skill is vital if I decide to into research or science in the future, which are both things I am interested in. I will work to be able to take these skills away from this internship.
 A personal skill I would like to improve is managing time. I would also like to improve my memory, that way I can remember to schedule my obligations and keep track of everything. Since I have a lot on my plate senior year, I want to be able to contribute the most I can to everything I do without spreading myself thin. In order to do this, I have to be able to allot time to everything through scheduling. This life skill will enable me to become a more organized, productive person.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Skills I Would Like to Learn

This summer, my big focus is my social and public speaking skills. This is both a professional and personal goal for me as it is very important and beneficial to have good relations in work environments and a calm demeanor while presenting research. (I tend to be on the panicking side.) As such, I would really like to learn how to fight through my stage fright and also overcome my shyness around new crowds. This involves getting used to putting myself out there and taking that "leap of faith" to speak out more often so it won't be so daunting eventually. It also includes having more confidence in myself and what I'm capable of. I should establish more confidence in my own research so I can present it smoothly as well as confidence in my already obtained skills so that I can comfortably do work and share my ideas.

My second focus is time management with long-term projects. Often, I have trouble spacing out my work properly so I can tackle huge projects in smaller sections. I find it easier to blast through assignments in one shot, so I don't have to worry about it later. But with assignments that are meant to take a long time, it's harder to do it all in one night. I need to learn how to effectively divide the work into "bite"able sections so I can conquer each section one by one. This includes better understanding how I work best as an individual so I can gauge what size sections I can best handle as well as organizational skills in working these sections into my schedule and planning them out so I can complete them in the designated times. This also includes a general willpower to actually get those sections done in the designated times without procrastination.

In conclusion, I particularly struggle with social skills, public speaking, and time management concerning long-term projects. I hope to practice these skills these summer so I can grow accustomed to using them and become comfortable enough to proudly showcase them as skills I have acquired. 

-Patricia Acorda

Friday, June 17, 2016

A beginner's guide to nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is becoming a more promising science with great potential in manufacturing. The existing manufacturing process produces a lot of waste and pollution. Many atoms are wasted in the process of creating a larger object and getting the desired output by taking away excess material. As a result, the products made to fit together are billions of atoms out of alignment. This misalignment causes faster wear, expensive lubrication, and mechanical breakdown. Since molecular nanotechnology involves the manipulation of incredibly small particles, it will allow manufacturing to become more precise and therefore cleaner and cheaper.

Currently, nanotechnology has gotten as far as scanning tunneling microscopy, which uses a sharp tip to move atoms around a surface. There is also research being done on how to make the production of single-walled, carbon nanotubes cheaper. This is important because these tubes can save the millions of dollars being used to mine materials such as steel or aluminum. They are lighter and stronger than steel, and can be produced in a lab. Scientists hope to develop a process where a nanoscale robotic arm with a “sticky” tip would multiply to create millions of itself. These arms would be able to place individual atoms at a much faster collective rate than placing the atoms in the desired arrangement one at a time.

Possible applications for nanotechnology include, as mentioned, the improved efficiency of the manufacturing process. It also has the potential to revolutionize medicine. At this scale, small devices can be created to enter the human bloodstream in order to repair damage at the cellular level. This specification of treatment can treat the problem directly, while something like chemotherapy weakens the entire body. 

Generalized Selection, Innate Immunity, and Viruses

Viruses are biological agents that hurt and can possibly kill living organisms.  By taking over the cells of the host, viruses can replicate and produce viral progeny.  In order for viruses to replicate, they must be able to survive the defense mechanisms for the host cell, or the innate immunity.  Examples of innate immunity are the immune system, the skin, and mucus.  In the experiment conducted, the defense mechanism studied was the immune system.  Viruses must be able to evade the immune system in order to reach the host cell and successfully replicate, otherwise they would get destroyed by the immune system before reproducing in the host cells.  In an immunocompetent host, interferons are produced and identify the pathogen and trigger the immune response.  However, there are cells that are immunodeficient, meaning that they do not produce interferons.  Viral selection occurs in immunocompetent hosts since the immune system is destroying the viruses that cannot evade it.  This selection weeds out the viruses that cannot evade the immune system, resulting in only the reproduction of the virus population that do have the ability to evade the immune system.  In immunodeficient cells, there is no selection occurring.  The scientists began to experiment to find the connection between the virus populations that replicate and the viral progeny and see if the innate immunity, or the immune system, affects how a virus evolves.

The scientists cultured populations of the vesicular stomatitis virus in immunodeficient and immunocompetent hosts.  HeLa cells (human carcinoma cells) were the immunodeficient hosts, and MDCK cells (canine kidney cells) were the immunocompetent hosts.  The scientists hypothesized that the virus that adapts and replicates in the HeLa cells would only be able to adapt and survive in only immunodeficient cells and related hosts due to the fact that there was no immunity-selective pressure present.  The researchers also hypothesized that the virus that adapted to the innate immunity of the MDCK cells would not only have a high fitness in the immunocompetent hosts, but also in immunodeficient hosts since there is no selection occurring.  The researchers also tested a mix of the viral population, exposing some to HeLa cells and exposing a separate population to MDCK cells, predicting that they would also have high fitness, or being able to evade the immune system and replicate.  To test their hypotheses, the scientists placed the viral progeny from each cell host into another set of immunodeficient and immunocompetent cells. LNCaP cells were the immunodeficient cells while PC-3 cells were immunocompetent.

After conducting research, the scientists discovered that the viral progeny from the virus populations cultured in HeLa cells could only survive in immunodeficient cells like its predecessors.  However, the viral progeny from the MDCK population only had moderate fitness in immunocompetent cells.  The viral progeny from the both cell types had different levels of fitness because each virion had different capabilities of evading the immune system since some of the population were exposed to immunity-selective pressure while the rest was not exposed. The scientists concluded that innate immune selection does affect the evolution of RNA viruses.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Beginners Guide to Nanotechnology

            Nanotechnology promises to be the next technological revolution. It will be cleaner, cheaper, and have more flexible manufacturing capabilities than anywhere in the world today. Nanotechnology means many things to many different people. It not only provides assistance to medical science, but to engineers and manufacturers. Nanotechnology is nothing new. If we look at the world around us, nature works at the most basis level is measurement, the nanoscale. Life as we know it is made up of tiny cells that dictate our every move. 
           Today scientists are studying molecular technology to manipulate specific atoms and use molecules to build things. Using a Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), which uses a sharp top to push atoms around, it will allow the ability to pick and place individual atoms and molecules to create things with ease. Nanotechnology factories will forever be change the way factories are able to build things with little or no change economically and cleanly. Not only making cleaning products, but much smaller ones as well. Medical science will be able to creat devices small enough to enter the body's bloodstream to repair damage and treat diseases at the cellular level.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Beginner's Guide to Nanotechnology

Currently, many scientists are working with nanotechnology, believing that it is the new future of technology. Rocky Angelucci's A Beginner's Guide to Nanotechnology gives readers a view of what nanotechnology really means for the future and the possibilities associated with this new technology. The article specifically focuses on "molecular nanotechnology" a specific branch of nanotechnology that deals with manipulating individual atoms and molecules to eventually build amazingly precise mechanisms.

So what exactly is the hype with being so precise, right down to individual atoms? Angelucci compares modern manufacturing techniques with molecular nanotechnology, emphasizing how - on a molecular level - modern machinery doesn't make pieces that fit well together at all, thus giving way to faster disintegration and costly lubrication. Molecular technology aims to change that by giving us the power to move individual atoms and molecules. Since atoms are the building blocks of everything around us, the acquiring of this technology would open almost limitless opportunities. With the current scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), scientists are already able to push atoms using a fine tip. In the future we can see technology being made so that we are able to move large amounts of atoms at the push of a button. And going further, this technology could be easily used in a factory environment, where millions of mini nano scale assembly devices will allow engineers to create things to a precision not possible with the naked eye and current technology.

This technology will be able to not only build smaller mechanisms that can enter tiny spaces, but it will also allow us to push space efficiency, making it possible to fit complex sequences into a small area, similar to a living cell. (Though reaching that complexity might take us a few years...or more.) Materials will become stronger and generally cheaper and engineering design will take on a fun size; so welcome to nanotechnology.

-Patricia Acorda

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Internship and Personal Goals

             One of my goals for this internship is to decide if I am interested in pursuing an engineering career. I'm aware engineering is a broad field, and the lab I will be working in does not define the entire career path. However, it would help me narrow down my interests in order to give me the head start that will help me in college. I will achieve this goal by being on top of everything from the beginning of my internship. I will ask questions as they arise, ensuring that I am retaining and understanding the information I am given. I will always be attentive and invested in the work that I do within the internship. Another goal I have is to build connections that can benefit me in the future. The internship in itself is an incredible opportunity, but it can also blossom into other opportunities through the connections I build. I can do this by making a good impression on my PI and the other adults working in the lab. I will be early and give my fullest effort on every task I am given. I will only demonstrate my best work through the internship, and maintain a good work ethic.
             A personal goal I have for myself is to cut the time it takes me to run three miles down by five minutes. I joined the cross country team last year, and I was not prepared for the season. This year, I will condition in the summer with the rest of the team in order to be properly prepared for the upcoming season and improve my times. The cross country meets are usually around three miles long, so if I could cut down my time it would greatly improve my competition performance.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Goals

        I am very excited for this upcoming summer. It is the first time I am really doing anything to prove my ability in a research/lab environment. I hope to demonstrate my determination and skill set that I bring to the table. These are very respected people who's insight can teach me so much.  Learning from very qualified professors might give me ever lasting connections that can build me to the path of success. Asking questions is always a smart thing to do to stand out. Proving to them that I am more than capable to complete any task at hand is my main goal. I am very passionate about engineering, and know that one day I will chose a career geared towards it.              
        Not only do I hope to make connections with the people I work with, but keep a positive attitude throughout my experience and learn not to procrastinate, even with the most simplest of  things. Waiting until the last minute to finish my homework and project was something that I always had a hard time with. I understand how important it is to hand things in on time, even early. The  chance the CRISP Internship has given me is something I cannot take advantage of. The people are relying on me to do my job; if I cannot provide what they need everyone is let down. Throughout my experience working at the SCSU Physics Lab, I hope to maintain my bright and optimistic outlook despite the setbacks that are inevitably waiting. It is very easy for myself to get angry and frustrated, but remembering to stay calm and breath will help me maintain my focus. It is going to be hard but in the end it will all be worth it.

Monday, June 6, 2016

My Goals and Expectations for this Summer

Hello all,

My name is Mahdeen Khan, and I am a rising junior attending James Hillhouse High School.  I will be interning for the first time at Dr. Kathryn Miller-Jensen's lab this summer.

Through this internship, I hope to gain more knowledge about biology, specifically about the human cell and genes.  I also want to be able to do well in the lab and meet my PI's expectations.  I will accomplish these goals by reading scientific articles about the topics I am researching and paying attention to Dr. Miller-Jensen.  By asking questions, I can further understand my research.  Hopefully, through my internship, I will also be able to acquaint with the other students in my lab and be able to network, all to improve my social skills and gain contacts.

On a more personal note, I wish to improve my procrastination and laziness and become more dedicated to the field of science.  When Dr. Miller-Jensen asks me to do assignments, I will need to do them immediately.  I need to make this a habit, so I will always get my work done on time.  This measure is not the only way to solve my procrastination problem.  Motivation and an interest in what I'm researching will also help me procrastinate less.  By being more interested in my work, I will feel more inclined to do it, and therefore get it done faster.

Hopefully, I will achieve these goals and become one step closer to figuring out what I want to do in life.