Friday, September 17, 2010

My (Former) Research Explained: What I did In Puerto Rico

I'm often asked how I got into biophysics. Usually my first response is a hearty laugh. The person inquiring generally has a perplexed look on their face which leads me to explain that before I got into biophysics I was really into astronomy. I was so into astronomy that I applied for an REU in the summer of 2005 for a bunch of astronomy based research with one fallback in biophysics. I applied to programs in San Diego, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Arizona, and San Francisco (the biophysics one).

As luck would have it, I was accepted in the San Francisco program to do cancer related research. I don't remember what the program was all about because it is five years later, but I remember being really interested. I would have taken the position if not for one thing. I had not heard anything about the Puerto Rican REU. I told the program director I would not make a decision until I get word from all of them and he gave me a week.

Since the title of this blog post is not "What I did in San Francisco" I imagine you can guess what happened. Literally the day I was going to report to the director of the SF program I received an email from Murray Lewis, the director of the program and my soon-to-be advisor, saying I was admitted to the program. I literally jumped for joy (the only time in my life I have done so, I swear), emailed the SF director the good/bad news (depending on how you looked at it), and ran to tell me roommate Adam the good news "I'm going to Puerto Rico for the summer!"

Back then I didn't curse so much, but if I received similar news now I would be a little more cool about it while adding a "yea, bitches!" to the end of it. Now back to the topic I started this tangent with...

When people ask why I switched to biophysics I tell them because the scientific experience I had in Puerto Rico was the most horrific experience of my life and that it turns out I kick ass at biology. They generally understand. Even though it was a horrific experience scientifically, I managed to learn a lot (and can appreciate it now) and I had a ton of fun in lots of other regards. I would like to share all those experiences with you over the next ___ days (who knows how long this will take).

These are the things that I am going to share with you:
  • The science of stellar evolution and more specifically the very little I remember and/or ever knew about OH/IR stars
  • Pretty sweet pictures of the Arecibo telescope, whatever details I can remember about it, and the one experience I have of working with it
  • The awesome complex that was part of the telescope, where I lived, and more importantly where I played basketball
  • Why it was a horrible scientific experience
  • All of the many fun things that I will never forget I did while in Puerto Rico. Honestly, my memory of this summer is more like a long vacation than a summer of research
  • The face Stef makes whenever I talk about Puerto Rico (extreme jealousy)...

...and we totally made fun of all the SETI people too!
I'll take my metamucil to stay regular (with the posting you sickos), so look for the first post of ?? this weekend where I talk about stellar evolution.

1 comment:

Dad said...

yea and here I was thinking you were going to be a radio astronomer or an astronaut... :)

your path has been interesting... and really good...

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