Last Experiment

As the monsoon season approaches Arizona toward the end of the month, my stay here at ASU begins to end. Conducting three experiments back to back, today I see my last experiments as ASU. All that is left for this set of data is analysis and interpretation. Throughout the week I will be working on a final report and constructing an abstract for future conferences I will attend. This has provided a challenge to be to consolidate everything I have learned in the past month into concise report. Determining the material to add to the report seems like the most difficult task for me to do as well as proper documentation from the several reports and articles I have read.

Several events are being planned this week by both my adviser and roommate. I have my final presentation in ASU this Friday where there is expected to be a larger crowd than normal for my departure. My roommate is planning a get together with some of his friends on Tuesday where I will be cooking fish using one of my Dad’s famous recipes. At the get together everyone will be bringing their own dish to our dorm and have fun. This Wednesday, my mentor, Dr. Bi, and some of my colleagues are going to watch a movie in the istb4 building about space travel and what mankind has accomplished and discovered thus far.

As a conclusion, I look forward to what this week holds for me. In between all of the work and other activities, I am certain I will enjoy my last few days here in Arizona.

Matched Standards

After running several experiments and analyzing large amounts of data I was able to replicate a photocatalyst experiment sent to several labs around the United States. This states that a standard set by NIST is repeatable for observing NADH fluorescence degradation by TiO2 with a phosphate buffer. This has been one of the major tasks I have been assigned to complete for the past few weeks using SRM 1898. Looking towards the future I will be analyzing other TiO2 grades and observing what their reaction rate constants are at different TiO2 concentrations.

Aside from analyzing data, For the fourth of July weekend I went with my mentors to watch fireworks. We brought a few games, and although I didn’t win any, I still had a lot of fun. I also went hiking at Clear Creek Trail in Camp Verde. This was the first time I saw water flowing in nature as well as forests in Arizona and was really excited. I went on the trip with a young professionals, less than 35 years of age, group in environmental engineering. After hiking 8 miles, we went to a well known restaurant and ordered pie, then went to a different restaurant and  ordered lunch. This entire weekend was very fun and tiring. For this upcoming week, I plan on seeing a movie and and seeing more of my friends before I leave next week.


Buffer Effects

The course of this week has certainly been eventful in every way. We received a new instrument, UV Transilluminator, with two ultraviolet wavelengths, proficiency in Excel has minimized my data analysis from 11 hours to three hours, and discoveries in our solution has shed some light on my knowledge of photocatalyst.

To start off this week we received a new UV Transilluminator and had learn the functionality of this new instrument. The set up and process is similar to our previous UV Transilluminator so it did not take very long. I designed a frame to cover the screen of the transilluminatorr to help maintain uniformity of UV rays to our multiwell sample. We also incorporated another instrument to our research that allows us to measure fluorescence. We discovered that special black multiwells would have to be used with this instrument to obtain better readings for our sample.

I have come to notice this week that my proficiency in Microsoft Excel has dramatically improved. From the first and second week I was here, I had to create a template for all the data we collected. Now looking back I see that  I have become a lot faster in organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data. Recently, I have been working on a MatLab code during my free time to help data analysis, but I am stumbling upon a portion of my code that allows me to organize my data in matrix form. More is to come of this code as I try to discover a proper way to allow MatLab make my graphs and organize my data.

One of the grand discoveries we made this week was a buffer effect. We discovered that by using different buffers causes a faster rate of reaction when using a photocatalyst. This week we will be aiming to find out more information on why this is so and using more photocatalyst to observe if this trend is constant.

Towards the end of the week Dr Alford talked to several REU students about graduate school and the process several students take. Although I am a rising Sophomore, I am starting to think more about what I would like to do once I graduate. One of the options for me to take is going to graduate school, and I think that may be one of the better decisions I will have to make one day. As far as what I would like to study will be a challenge, and with that note I understand I do have time on my side to make these decisions (and nanotechnology is one of which that does peak my interest).

A New Beginning

Analyzing data is perhaps one of the most important aspect in the STEM fields. This week I was able to fully experience the process of analyzing data, thus giving me an understanding of data collection and interpretation.

At the start of this week Dr. Bi assigned me to measure methylene blue (MB) degradation from different types of titanium dioxide (TiO2). The data that was produced from this experiment was very intriguing and helped me realize the importance of reproducible outcomes. The amount of time researchers spend on analyzing and interpreting data without computer assistance amazed me as well as for it took me a long time to complete this process.

By the end of this week I had to present all of the information that I had discovered. This was a very unique experience for me to meet with parts of my group. I was able to discuss information about different parts of our overall project and goal for the research we were conducting. Constructive criticism was given out to help better my presentation and knowledge of MB, TiO2, and photocatalysis in general. For this upcoming week I plan on creating a MatLab program to help me analyze all of the data I receive so I can spend more time of experimenting with new photocatalyst.

I am starting to figure out how I can balance my research and individuals back from home. Today was Father’s day and my little four year old sister’s piano recital. I experienced a bittersweet moment when I Skyped my Dad and saw my little sister play the piano. I am really proud of my sister playing in front of a really big audience without playing the wrong key or song. Hopefully this week will be a lot better with cooler temperatures, the high for today and this week was 120 degrees.

Week One Completed

My first week back in Arizona has been hectic but yet marvelous at the same time. In between all the papers, lab work, and textbooks I am able to socialize with friends that I have not been able to see in a year.  I am starting to get acclimated to the arid heat and have found what I believe to be the best route with the most shade going to and from the lab.

Aside from the heat and my friend this week has been very productive. I started off by reading a lot of papers on titanium dioxide (TiO2) and have finally gained enough knowledge to start uncovering some of its properties pertaining to Photocatalytic Activity (PCA). At the beginning of the week, I attended a lab training session so that I could work in the lab for the duration of the summer. Soon after, Dr. Bi monitored me in developing a methylene blue (MB) and buffer mixture to be able to measure the light waves that it can absorb. As the week went on I began collecting data by a 96 multi-well plate technique on a TiO2 and MB mixture. By Thursday I was using a UV transilluminator and examining the effects of TiO2 on MB. Through these series of tests I was able to grasp a better understand of TiO2 and the meaning if PCA. Friday is known as meeting day. This Friday I met Dr. Westerhoff for the first time in a reflective meeting with his graduate students. Soon after the group meeting Dr. Westerhoff spoke to me and Dr. Bi about my research,progress, and the importance of them both. 

I look forward to the challenges I will face this upcoming week! 

115 Plus Degrees

In less than 3 hours I will be boarding my plane to Tempe, Arizona where the temperature will be at least 115 degrees for today and tomorrow. This will not be my first time to traveling to Tempe as I did research in the same area with Mathematical Biology. This opportunity to go back and do a different field of research will allow me to see people I haven’t seen in almost a year. I look forward to reuniting with all of my friends that live in the Arizona Region.

In preparation for my trip, my parents loaded me with tons of information on safe travel and jet lag, there is a 3 hour time difference. They warned me not to call them anytime past 8 pm my time, 11 pm their time, for they will not answer the phone. Other than the small jokes that were passed, they helped me make sure I have everything I need before they drop me off at the airport.

Regarding the research and schedule with Dr. Alford, Dr. Bi, and Dr. Westerhoff I can expect to learn a lot about photocatalytic activity of nanoparticles for reactive oxygen species production. Tuesday will be the first day I will start my lab training to help prepare me set of the experiments I will be conducting with Dr. Bi.

I am very exited to meet everyone and stay in Arizona for the next 7 weeks, although I wish the weather was a little cooler.