Thank you!

Hey hey!

Hope you guys are all having a good Friday! Mine has been lots of fun—Monica, my research professor this summer, turned on Pandora and I’ve been dancing and singing along all day (plus doing work, of course). Right now, we’re working on creating a mandatory poster that will showcase all of the work I’ve done this summer. Everyone in the Wellesley Summer Research Program is required to make one by August 2nd, and since I’m the only one in Monica’s lab, I have to make it all by myself. Or, I should say, I get to make it all by myself, because I am thoroughly enjoying the process. The great part about posters is that visuals matter just as much as words, which means I get to spend tons of time making sure all of the figures and format looks pretty! I love messing with colors and design—a side hobby I used to have that quickly got swamped by schoolwork back in 9th grade :) . Gah, I feel like such a girl ;) .

Anyway, this has been a marvelous week for food, because I was invited to two professors’ houses for dinner! On Saturday night, I spent the evening at Professor Arumainayagam’s house, where we ate delicious Sri Lankan food, and celebrated Audrey and Katherine’s birthday! They, like the smart Wellesley girls they are, had spent the entire day going around Boston and getting free birthday stuff from stores and restaurants. I too was in Boston in the beginning of the day, doing my usual Haymarket run and dimsum dining with Alice and Angela. I therefore had a great eating experience throughout the whole day, and the company for both morning and evening was superb. Professor A. and his wife had invited Professor Karin Oberg, me, Katherine, Frieda, Kristal’s husband, and his entire lab to eat with them; with all of us crowded around the table, it was a wonderful time :) .

Monday too I was served excellent food and had even more excellent company! Monica and Liz (Monica’s wife) invited me over to eat at their house in Boston, and along with eating cucumber and honeydew soup, orzo with pesto (pesto, I have missed you), salad, and peach and blueberry crisp, I learned how to play The Settlers of Catan. I quite liked meeting Liz and spending time in their home; I feel my wit is improving simply from being in Monica and Liz’s presence ;) .  They even generously provided me with a place setting, since they have extra things from their wedding a few weeks ago: let it be said that eight weeks into the summer, I finally have a non-plastic plate! (YES!)

Thank you so much to the Arumainayagams, Monica, and Liz for inviting me over for dinner. It means a lot to me that you have all been so welcoming and kind, and joking aside, I appreciate everything you have offered me, including company and dinner, very much.

Moreover, I had a special visit from two of my family members on Tuesday :) . My grandparents came and visited me all the way from Illinois! I had meant to call them the day before, but by the time I returned to my room, it was too late to answer their call, so I emailed them. However, I didn’t think about the fact that they wouldn’t have access to email… which led to quite a bit of confusion when they showed up Tuesday at noon and I was nowhere to be found! Though this is very embarrassing on my part, they were able to meet several of my friends in the Science Center, and I received calls and emails from members of Prof. A’s lab, and even the admission office, that eventually led to us finding each other :) . Monica gave me the afternoon off work, and they took me out to Blue Ginger, we had ice cream at Truly’s, and we even went to see the Amazing Spiderman at Natick. I had a wonderful time, and hope they enjoyed the impromptu diving lesson we had at the pool, as they came along to my swimming lessons. I have many people to be grateful to this week, and I’m so happy my grandparents were able to make it down to Wellesley to see me and spend the afternoon with me. Thank you so much to the two of you; my grandmother and grandfather were the two who brought me to Wellesley when I made my decision to come here, and them being there now, when I have spent a full year making this my home, was very special.

As for the rest of the week, it passed in its usual pleasant blur :) . Sunday and Wednesday I had good food from the hands of my friends, my swimming lessons have been progressing, and I have been answering emails from the Class of 2016 over the week as well! Here’s one question from Nancy that I thought was particularly relevant:

“How do you get into a lab?”

It’s an interesting question and one I’ve heard many answers to :) .  Several professors, not all at Wellesley, have told me that it is a lot like a dating process—spend a lot of time with the professor and hope it clicks. However, here at Wellesley getting into a lab is immeasurably easier than at a school with graduate students, especially because Wellesley is a teaching school and students have incredible access to faculty. Here I’ve found that the biggest barrier my friends who are not in labs (but want to be in labs) face is fear of asking. In my case, I asked Professor A if I could work in his lab before the end of first semester, because I was taking Chemistry 120 with him. However, I was very lucky because Professor A is absolutely wonderful about undergraduate research. He went out of his way to take Chem 120 students into his lab (nine of us, an unprecedented number) and send other Chem 120 students to other labs (Alice, for example, was pushed by Prof. A to ask to join the Kolodny lab, where she is now.) I was able to join Professor Conway’s lab by more of a dating process: I 1) spent an hour every week in his office during office hours, 2) did well in his Neuro 100 class, and 3) asked him if I could join at the end of the semester. However, I have another friend, Frieda, who joined a different chemistry lab simply by asking, without taking a class with that professor or spending time with them. So, in sum, I’m not really sure if there is a definite path to getting into a lab, but I think that at a school like Wellesley, a lot of it depends on your willingness to spend time with professors, and speak up about what you’re interested in. We’re very lucky to be at a school where joining a lab is this easy—and if this access to research was one of the reasons you came here, as it was for me, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to find your way into a lab with a little effort :) . (ps, I’ve been told that a good time to start research is sophomore year, so don’t feel you have to get into it immediately after arriving on campus!)

As always, please send me questions and comments! I must be off, but I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the pictures (up later tonight), and see you next week!

Monica


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