Week 1: 6/8/09 - 6/12/09
This first week has been filled with moving in and meeting all of the other interns and learning about my project for the summer. I drove up to Beaverton from Sacramento and was delighted to finally arrive at my apartment on Friday evening. The apartment has a lot of amenities and is next to every bit of shopping that I could ever need so that was a great plus as well.
Beaverton seems very similar to my home (except way greener) so I felt very comfortable in my new home for the rest of the summer. My roommates arrived throughout the weekend and we all met for the first time.
The first day was filled with all of the details for orientation. I learned that there are going to be a lot of activities available for us so that we can all chill in an environment that does not involve a lab :). We all introduced ourselves and I surprised to see how few seniors there were. Most of the interns will be in their second or third year of college next term. We then had a very long talk about safety regulations and procedures. This presentation was actually pretty interesting as Dan Tayooka, the person giving it, had many anecdotes to share. The timing was a little off however. It was right before lunch time and (super bad choice) they were setting up lunch right behind Dan. Guess what our eyes were on.
I also met my Senior Scientist Antonio Baptista and my frontline mentor Nirzwan Bandolin on the first day. I was introduced to the project that I would be working on for the summer. I was a little doubtful that I could apply my set of studies (Math) to the project but was soon convinced otherwise.
We are going to be looking at the Columbia River Estuary and focusing on the estuarine turbidity maxima (ETM). We are going to try to find the density of the particles in suspension, which could lead to a lot of other studies. There is very little known about this so this should be a pretty exciting study. There are many variables to consider when calculating density. We are going to be using a LISST 100X to capture all of our data.
Nirzwan started filling me in with the details for the project and gave me some literature to review. It was challenging to read the journals and get passed all of the scientific jargon. I suspect that I am just going to have to read a lot more articles to get used to this. I enjoyed the fact that many of the articles seemed to invoke a bunch of subjects and I noticed Mathematics (my field of study) was almost always present in the papers in some form. I have been making summaries of the papers so that we can post them on the website. Nirzwan told me that this is a really useful thing to do so that we can quickly see which paper we used and how. I am a little nervous about putting something that I wrote on a scientific website. Writing is not exactly my forte.
I am glad that I am reviewing the papers though because they are giving me a better idea of what the project is about. I have been also using the papers to compile a list of definitions that will help me out when actually executing the project. We seem to be in the prep time for the project, where I become as knowledgeable as possible in two weeks and then we go and collect data to analyze.
Part of the prep-work is learning how to use the mathematical program MatLab. I had heard of this program before, but my Linear Algebra Professor never taught it to us. I never realized what a valuable tool it was. This program can do almost anything. This makes me a little angry when I think of all of the countless hours I spent RREF-ing when I had a program that could have effortlessly done it for me. I have been informed that this program will be incredibly useful for future classes though.
I need to use MatLab to put the data that we collect from the LISST 100X in a useful format that another program can use and process. I am currently trying to learn how to transfer text-only files to .dat ones, but am having a bit of trouble as I am by no means techy.
I am still trying to get used to a 40 hour work week, but it’s not so bad. I have noticed that I eat lunch with the same people every day though. The lab people seem to have a different schedule, though I am sure that I shall see them on one of the many planned outings. I learned from one of these lunches that Portland does have a cupcakery (oh blessed joy!) and I cannot begin to describe how happy I was to hear this. I'll have to leave that to next week's blog about my cupcake experience this weekend.