Friday, June 26, 2015

Gopi, Paul, and I traveled to Lehigh University today to use their Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope which can capture images with atomic resolution. We had prepared samples with flakes of our material suspended on wafer membranes. Using the TEM today, we were able to drill nanopores in thin sections of the suspended flakes and take images of the resulting pores. The process to locate the membranes with the flakes and then drill the pores took many attempts, however, we were finally successful. We left Lehigh University at 5pm with our new image files. 

Gaining experience with the TEM today was awesome. Also huge props to the US Supreme Court for ruling same-sex marriage is legal in every state! ❤ Yay America and #LoveWins 

Today was also exciting because I found out I was selected as 1 of 20 college women to attend Square's Code Camp - a five-day immersion program where I will attend coding workshops and leadership sessions, participate in a Square hackathon, and tour San Francisco.  I can't wait to meet fellow college women studying engineering from across the US, learn new coding languages/iOS development, and then share what I've learned with women on my campus. Learn about Code Camp here:

I guess this week is a week of new labs. On Wednesday following our NBIC programming event, Jenna took me on a tour of her lab at the Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center. Jenna's research focuses on creating nanogels that will improve drug delivery. Her lab is beautiful (almost as nice as mine ;) and cool (as in freezer room cool). 

Who knows what the weekend will bring; I'm planning to visit my grandma. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I'll miss David's bread in the lab tomorrow but it's ok because I'm traveling with Gopi and Paul to Lehigh University to use the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM). I'm super excited because their TEM has incredible imaging capabilities with atomic resolution. 

I have been very productive this week, spending long hours in the cleanroom spin coating, developing, and etching Silicon wafers. Once the wafers are etched and membranes created, holes can be drilled and WS2 flakes transferred onto the holes. Nanopores can then be drilled on the suspended membranes. At the end of last week, I was trained on the plasma/ion etcher and have incorporated use of this machinery into this week's lab research.

I attended a group REU cookie and milk social yesterday and the weekly lecture today which was on an organic chemistry topic. For my REU program, I will be presenting a mid-way update next Wednesday on my research. I am working on creating graphics and flowcharts to include in my presentation. Here is my title slide: 

At the IHouse, I have been making meals with Jenna and Michelle. Last night we cooked together and watched the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's Friday fun and a great weekend!

Monday, June 22, 2015

I had a fun Father's Day weekend. The weekend started off great; my friend Nikhil came to visit! I was able to give him a tour of the physics lab where he met some of the awesome Drndic lab members. We also explored the Singh Center for Nanotechnology where I conduct my clean room experiments. After the lab tour, we went to a Thai restaurant and had a good time in the University City section of Philly.

To celebrate Father's Day, I headed home Saturday afternoon. I ate dinner with family and watched a "Back to the Future" marathon (minus the last movie). I find that the third "Back to the Future" movie is a disappointment to the series as a whole and therefore feel ok with pretending it never existed. 

Sunday morning I went to church to see dad play guitar during one of the praise songs. After some time relaxing at home, it was time to head back to Philly. We ate dinner at Pod where I had eaten previously with my lab group. Pod was surprisingly not busy and we were able to sit in one of the light changing "pod" rooms. 

Today was exciting because I ate lunch with one of my high school science fair mentors, Dr. Mante who is the director of bio-materials at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School. I conducted experiments and dental research tests in his lab for my project, "Development of a Novel Safe Method for In Vitro Re-Creation of the Tooth Enamel Layer." He expressed great kindness in opening his lab to me, introducing me to dental techniques and relevant dental tests, and providing me with mentorship and support.

Dr. Mante met me at the Beijing restaurant and I enjoyed a good meal and conversation. I've come to be very appreciative of his life advice. His key advice for today: take advice as only a suggestion, it is up to you to ultimately determine your path. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Everything is going so quickly this week! We mailed a shipment of the wafers with WS2 membranes to our partner university on Monday afternoon. I have performed SEM with the WS2, used piranha solution to remove dust from the wafers, and become certified to use the Mask Alignment (MA6) for wafer/lithography patterning. 

I have also been working on reading relevant journal articles and writing a literature/background review. The background review is the second assignment I have as part of my REU program; during week 1 I wrote a project summary describing a bit about my project background, the work I will be doing, and its importance. 

In unrelated news, I'm having a great time exploring with Connie during lunch time. The Singh Center (where I conduct my research in the clean room) has a very nice rooftop garden. 
Two especially fun (outside the lab) events have occurred so far this week. Monday was Connie's 21st birthday. To celebrate, we went to Max Brenner's. It is a restaurant that specializes in food and chocolate inspired masterpieces. Yay Connie - Happy Birthday! I guess this was my second B'Day celebration in a week (91st party last Saturday). 

The second event was attending the BIO International Convention's Johnson and Johnson sponsored party at the Reading Terminal last night. The BIO International Convention booked the Reading Terminal for the night and had live music and a plentiful food samplings selection from each vendor. I had a free access pass and shared the access code with my REU group. It was a great time! 

Uncle Paul came to visit today and we enjoyed lunch at the Shake Shack.  He is also coming to see this week's Penn lecture which is on the topic of new nanotechnologies; should be fun. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I headed home for the weekend to celebrate my great uncle Norman's 91st birthday. Norman is still an active driver and is enjoying his youth. All of the family was at the Ocean City house for the party and there was good food and fun. Uncle Paul picked me up at the IHouse and drove me down to the shore. We (of course) stopped at Starbucks on the way down; with Paul, Starbucks is a tradition. Thanks to Paul for bringing me down - I had a great time!  

Sunday morning, I headed to church with my mom and dad. It was confirmation Sunday as well as the day the 2nd graders receive their bibles. It's a tiny picture, but you can see the Pastor handing a 2nd grader her bible. 
After church, I went to enjoy time walking on the Ocean City beach with my mom. Now I'm back at the IHouse and ready for a week of lab research.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lab work is going well! I have been measuring and labeling the pictures of the WS2 membranes that I took under the microscope. On Thursday, I became trained to use HF which is an essential component to etching our WS2 membranes. HF training is necessary because HF is a chemical that binds with calcium and is not felt when spilled on the skin. To prevent HF accidents, it is important to wear a face mask, apron, and chemical gloves. If HF contact is made with skin, the area of contact should be rinsed and a chemical called Calgonate applied. The Calgonate will bring the HF to the surface and give it something with which to bind. 

On Thursday night, I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Jenna. We prefer this to a "chick flick."

Fridays are fun days in the Drndic lab. In the morning Chef Physicist David bakes bread from scratch and around noon, our group goes to lunch together. 

This week we went to the food trucks. We ate the food inside the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. David was a dual physics and history undergrad major; he showed us the museum's sphinx and he promises to give us a full personalized tour of the museum one day this summer. 

It was very hot - in the mid 90s -  this week. It's not very fun outside in the heat. It gets a bit sticky in the clean suit but I'm much happier than being outside. Yay to air conditioning in the physics building. 

I love my lab group because everyone shares an eagerness to learn new things, work hard, and have fun. We are starting up a Journal Club for the summer where each week a lab member chooses a relevant scientific journal article, all members read it, and there is a meeting for discussion. Friday afternoon, I helped Paul start the Drndic Lab YouTube channel. Check it out here:

The physic building is also an exciting place for our lab. I don't work with lasers, but the "Danger" signs that line the hallway doors and occasional Nitrogen gas chamber in the open hallway enforce the excitement.

The NBIC REU program planned a trip for us to the M├╝tter Museum of College Physicians of Philadelphia on Friday afternoon. According to their website, the M├╝tter Museum, "helps the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease."  The Museum houses exhibits and features: the tallest skeleton currently on display in North America, the body of the Soap Lady whose body decomposed into a soap-like substance due to the basic environment of the grave site, slides of Albert Einstein's brain, and a malignant tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland. 

There were no pictures allowed in the museum, however, their website provides pictures of some of the museum's permanent exhibits. (Warning: some graphic content.)

Following the museum visit, I ventured to an Irish Pub with Kevin and enjoyed a hamburger and good conversation. This weekend, I am planning to head home to Ocean City. I hope to bring back my bike and start riding. Many of the lab members ride to the lab and we have a roomy bike storage area inside our lab.