My whole summer felt like an adventure. My first day at Duquesne didn’t start off so well. I had no idea how the whole bus system worked. Liz and I left two hours early to catch our bus, at a bus stop that was far away (even though there was one much closer, but we didn’t find this out until later). Riding the bus into town, I felt a little better, but I was still pretty nervous. When we got off the bus, we had no idea where Duquesne was. There was another bus that could’ve taken us to Duquesne, but Liz wanted to walk so I acquiesced. We were so lost. We walked in a lot of circles that were technically squares because, you know, the buildings and streets only really make straight lines. We crossed a few dangerous intersections, saw some scary things, and walked up an old wooden staircase that didn’t look too safe, but after an hour and a half we had finally made it to Duquesne. But when I saw the Starbucks, we ended up waiting outside for an hour until it opened to get breakfast before going over to Mellon. When we got there, everyone was gathered at the table near the window and I saw Sydney and Amanda already there. Me and Liz sat down and joined them while we waited for the rest of the SEED kids to arrive and talked about how lost we were that morning. I saw Tristan come in and my first impression of him was, “Oh…I really don’t think I like him.” Then came Mary, and then Ian. I thought they were both kind of weird at first. Ian looked like the kind of nerd that would be stuck up and correct people a lot. After everyone was there Mr. Lucas delivered us all to our labs. When I was introduced to my undergrad student, Matt, I was told he was really weird, but that he was really smart, too. And he was. I was introduced to everyone in the lab, and they were all really nice. Then Matt started showing me around the lab and explaining about my project. I swear I barely understood anything that came out of his mouth. I thought there was no way I was going to be able to understand all that and do research on it by the end of the summer. Matt kept telling me I’d understand it though, and also that I would hate him by the end of the summer. When it was time for lunch we all met up and walked over there together. The food was good, but sometimes the guy serving it would scare me so I tried getting most of the self-serve stuff for awhile. After lunch I went back to the lab and Matt explained how the Infrared Spectrometer (IR) and Gas Chromatographer (GC) worked. I didn’t like the GC, I still don’t. The IR was better, but… I still don’t like it too much.
The next day another girl was in my lab, doing the same research as me. She was Phoebe and her dad was friends with Professor Pintauer, and she was also coming to school here in the fall so he let her work in my lab. We had the same project so pretty much all of our work was together. That made me feel a lot better, having someone else that was as clueless as I was, or at least it felt like that. I thought Phoebe was a little weird at first, but you know I ended up realizing she was really cool and in the end, I’ll miss her.
The next weeks were spent reading chemistry books so I could understand my project, ask Matt a bunch of questions and running long scans on the GC only to find that most of them turned out bad, or that whatever it was we shot into it, didn’t come out. The IR also broke that week, so most of our project turned to the GC. It wasn’t that exciting, most days we both would just sit there and read our books. After lunch we would go to the field with everyone and play Frisbee. Except Liz, because she didn’t like Frisbee since apparently it’s a VERY dangerous sport, and sometimes it was. The field trips were fun and some of them were really interesting.
Then came the week of the symposium and I was gone the whole week at band camp. I really miss band before I went, but by the end of camp I really missed everyone here. The way some people talked about the symposium, they made it sound different than I imagined. I was scared some big professor was going to ask me a bunch of questions about my poster that I would have no idea how to answer, but I was able to explain everything to everyone who came over and answer all their questions, along with help from Phoebe.
The week after the symposium, the IR was finally fixed. All that week I spent getting data from the IR and procrastinating going to write my final paper. I actually didn’t start writing it until the final week. The last week here, I was really sad to leave, but I’m excited to finally be able to sleep in this summer.
In the end, I’m really glad I did this and I can’t believe a long time ago back in the school year I thought about not doing it. I would’ve done SEED all through high school if I could’ve. I learned about my project, ATRA, the machinery, and a lot about just working in college in general. It gave me a better perspective on a lot things, and it’s made me think harder now about my future and where I want to go for college, and how I’m going to get there. I really can’t say how much I’ll miss my lab group, since half of them won’t be there next year and all the seniors, even though they’ll come back and visit anyway. I’m glad I get to come back next year, but I really hope we still remember how to get here by then.
Thanks to everyone in my lab for helping me have such a good summer; Matt, Ash, Sean, Will, Carol, Raj, Anita, April, Phoebe and Tom. Also all the Project SEED kids; Liz, Sydney, Amanda, Tristan, Mary, Ian, Chris and Mr. Lucas for making sure we got everything done on time, always helping when we needed it and then sometimes buying me coffee. The cold stuff is still better.