Wednesday, July 16, 2014

$1 Milkshakes and a Discussion

Having a nine o’clock class makes sleeping in totally doable. My roommate and I slept in until around 8:10 AM, grabbed breakfast at around 8:30 AM, and arrived to class by 8:50 AM.

As usual, we had our usual “update” on recent biotechnology. Hanna talked about cocaine esterase, an enzyme that flushes toxic levels of cocaine during an overdose (if you want to read for yourself: Of course, this new development could save many lives, but I think if this is actually implemented more people would be encouraged to do cocaine.

Dr. Bhasin gave an in-depth lecture, as usual. Today we talked about transcription, translation, and the causes and consequences of mutations. I wasn’t lying in my last blog when I said that whenever she talks, I’m filled with new information. Though a lot of information was new, the rest was familiar.

Afterwards, we discussed New Ways to Squash Superbugs, the article we had for homework about the new tools and tactics scientists are taking to discover novel antibiotics. We talked about MRSA, VRSA, the ways current antibiotics are using to kill bacteria (such as prohibiting protein synthesis and DNA unwinding), and how bacteria fight back (the most interesting one I found was drug excretion [when a pump is mounted in the cell membrane that excretes the antibiotic molecules enough so the bacteria can avoid death]).
Our lab

We discussed antibiotic resistance, the new ways scientists are coming up to beat pathogens (such as using narrow-spectrum drugs that target a specific pathogen without damaging other bacteria), and the cultural influences (how some people feel the need to depend on antibiotics, which encourages antibiotic resistance, while other groups of people choose to use herbs) and ethics surrounding this topic (should we save the lives of people, knowing that continuing the use of antibiotics could worsen our situation?).

I learned much from my peers during the discussion. I love how we pointed out the things we’d noticed to each other, and how hearing it from different voices really opened my mind to other ways of thinking. I also learned something about myself during the discussion—seminar-type classes are for me! I definitely enjoy classes set up like that.
The long line at Einstein Bagels

Afterwards, Kaitlyn, April, and I went to lunch at Einstein Bagels, since it was $1 Shake Day. My vanilla milkshake with Oreos and Nilla Wafers was so good! It’s a pretty big cup, too, for such a good milkshake.

By 1 PM, we were back in class, taking our second lab protocol quiz. I was nervous, but I think I did okay on it, since I knew what to expect.

April and I with our $1 milkshakes
The lab was easy! We used StarBiochem to observe the structures of normal hemoglobin and sickle hemoglobin. We were also able to discover the single amino acid substituted that changed the structure of the protein hemoglobin, glutamate. It was fun to determine the substitution ourselves and experience biotechnology research. April and I were able to finished early, at around 2 PM (which we’re very proud of).

After hanging out with April and discussing musicals with Kaitlyn, I (and later Oyin and Vicky) got to work on my homework and readings.

If this is college life, I love it. I am feeling stressed by the workload of this class, but I’ll tough it out… it’s worth it.

Speaking of labs, our lab tomorrow will include isolating plasmids and involve hands-on work with agarose gel electrophoresis! I never thought I’d have an opportunity to even see a gel before, and now I get to work with one. Every late night, early morning, homework assignment, and extensive reading assignment on this trip is worth it. 

How Bacteria Becomes Resistant

I woke up at 7, got dressed, and went to breakfast to eat fruit and eggs. I left today for class at 8:40 and got there at 8:50. Today's lecture freshened my mind of all the science I've learned in the past two years of high school. Dr. Fineschi talked about how bacteria becomes resistant and the super bug. I learned that there are four reasons that bacteria becomes resistant. The first is that bacteria fights back and produces enzyme that break down antibiotics making it ineffective. The second is that bacteria pumps in the body and out as it enters your body. The third is that there is no entry and lastly bacteria modifies their metabolic pathways targeted by antibiotics. The super bug is a pathogen resistant to more than one antibiotic simultaneously. Super bugs come from overuse of antibiotics and overuse of antibiotics allows evolution of resistant strains. For example, penicillin, methicillin, and tetracyline and vancomycin still works. Misused antibiotics leads to viral infections and antibiotics that are overused are used for prevention. Antibiotics promotes growth of antibiotic resistance. It also affects our gut microbiota and promotes growth of pathogenic bacteria.

The Tobacco Plant Cytoplasm
After the lecture we went to the lab and we got to calculate the original bacterial concentration of E.coli and since our second plates haven't mutated yet, we have to wait until tomorrow so we can count how many colonies they have. But so far the ones that did finish had 168 colonies, 20 colonies, and 4 colonies. I liked learning how to find the original bacterial concentration using the equation # of colonies divided by volume plated x plated dilution. After we finished we got to leave early if we wanted to for lunch. For lunch I walked back to where the dining hall is and bought some subway. Then I walked back to my class with Lila and Camile, another one of my classmates, and we ate our subway sandwiches there. Then we went back to the classroom after we finished eating. For the next part of class we had another hour lecture about DNA replication, primase and primers, and why bacteria is immortal. The first couple of slides talked about DNA being replicated right before cell division and how DNA replication is semi-conservative. I also learned that a replication complex include a number of enzymes. DNA polymerase can't function without a primer. A primer is required to start the DNA replication. Close to the end we talked eukaryotic cells and how they have special sequences called telomeres. Telemeres don't contain genes. The telemerase enzyme is composed of and RNA subunit and a proteic subunit. The code for proteic subunits is Tep 1 and is active in every cell in early embryo.

The Mitochondria Cell
For the last 40 minutes of the class we just sat in the lab and looked at more bacteria and plant cells under the microscope. If we were done with everything we had a choice to leave or stay and look at the cells. I left after looking at a couple of them. When I got back to the dorms I started to finish one of the reports we were assigned to do and then later on at 5:30 I went to dinner and ate some salad, fruit, and mashed potatoes. It was delicious. After dinner I hung out in the fifth floor lounge with my classmates Jeng, Lila, and Maddie that were up there playing slap jack. Later on I went to Dani's room to work on some research for my project we're doing in my class and ended the night after I was finished.

JLL, Edelman, Baker & McKenzie

My sustainability class took a field trip to three different corporate businesses today and we were given a presentation on their sustainability programs. We were to visit JLL, a commercial real estate company, Edelman, a public relations firm, and Baker and McKenzie, a law firm and see the different sustainability programs that each company does.

Waiting Outside the Jll Presentation Room
We met up in front of our class and took a bus and made our way into Chicago. We pulled up outside of a huge building that looked like it was at least 50 stories high. JLL and Edelman are in the same building so we went into JLL first. Bob Best the head of energy and sustainability at JLL and he gave us a presentation on this. The Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) at JLL helps other companies become more sustainable and efficient. There is usually a consultation period with their clients of what needs or changes need to be made on their property to make their business more sustainable. What really interested me was the work that JLL did on the Empire State Building. They had a heating problem and the heating system was located in the basement. To replace it, the block would need to be closed and the ground drilled. JLL came up with the idea to replace all the windows by adding an extra layer to them and inserting air between them. This was projected to bring down the Empire State Building's heating problem by 15% but it went above and beyond their expectation and it brought it 
JLL Presentation
down 40%. This energy saving technique made the building more sustainable and it also saved the owner a lot of money. I was curious as to why JLL only focused on commercial real estate and not residential. Apparently they have tried working with residential but it didn't work out too well so they decided to stick to what they know how to do best.

Our next stop was at Edelman a few floors up. John Edelman is the head of global citizenship at Edelman. Our presentation was on what Edelman means by citizenship and was focused on a concept that we learned in class called corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is the continuing commitment by businesses to commit to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large. John mentioned a trust barometer which highlights that purpose, integrity, and engagement build trust and that is key for a company. Edelman is really big in the purpose aspect of the trust barometer in their community. They consider themselves community members of the world so a lot of the organizations they help are global and worldwide. Edelman has strategies that are meant to reduce the levels of greenhouse gas. They strategies are projected company wide and each section is required to report back on their results. The results weren't really extraordinary and I feel like the company itself should make the strategies a bigger deal for their workers.
Edelman Presentation
We had a lunch break around the fountain in front of the JLL and Edelman building. Millennium Park was close by so our professor let us visit the park for about an hour but we had to find three things that were sustainable in the park and take a picture of them. Once I found my three sustainable items, I got an ice cream sandwich with my friends and we sat and watched the ending performance of a symphony group.
I wish we had gotten there earlier so we could have heard it all. There was another music group playing by the entrance so we went there once the orchestra was done playing. I want to call them a jazz Latin fusion group because most of the songs they played had some Latin influences but it was still jazzy at the same time. The only thing that threw me off about their performance was their singer but I still enjoyed it.

After lunch we visited Baker & McKenzie. David Hackett works mainly with CSR and environmental legal practices and he sat down and talked with us about the environmental services Baker & McKenzie provides. They help companies respond to the risks or opportunities of environmental law and regulation anywhere in the world. When Apple decided to go global and sell the iPhone all over the world, Baker & McKenzie helped them in figuring out what the environmental rules for the packaging was for each country that the iPhone would be sold in. CSR is also something that the company does extensively. There is a whole board dedicated to the company's CSR and they have accomplished so many things globally. From providing pro bono services to people in need and taking steps to make their offices sustainable, I feel like Baker & McKenzie is really diverse in their CSR work and their commitment to go green.

Baker & McKenzie Offfice
Today was a really interesting day for me because I got the chance to visit some really big and successful corporations and I got a pretty clear view on their sustainability programs and their CSR programs. I realize that not many people get this chance and I feel lucky that I got the chance to get a clearer understanding of what each company does specifically to be sustainable and what they do differently. What I want to do with this is see if I can draw any similarities from how each company's sustainability and CSR programs are ran and see how one company would be if they incorporated what the other did into their practices.

Second Trip to the Library

Last night I had a significant amount of homework, and I was not able to finish it all the night before. I got up at five to finish going over the assigned articles about infants development and reasoning. I managed to finish in time for breakfast, where I ate with my friend from St. Louis, Elizabeth. After breakfast was over, I went to class and like yesterday, arrived several minutes early.

The four stages
As soon as everyone was in class, we got to work right away, explaining and making concrete what we learned from the textbook the night before. The chapter we read was about the different theories about children's development. There were three different types of theories, but at many points they did tend to overlap. The first theory was mainly constructed by Piaget. He really paved the way for developmental psychologists after him, because he made so much progress in his field. Piaget believed that children learned from themselves by experimenting. Many people called how he described children's learning as "little scientists". He claimed that children tried things to see what would happen, and from these experiences they would learn about the world. For example, babies often knock things over from a shelf or table repeatedly. This can seem frustrating and pointless to an exhausted parent, but Piaget and many others believe that what this baby is doing is observing what happens when an object drops to the floor. How hard does it hit the ground? Does it break when it hits the ground? What sound does it make when it hits the ground? These questions are all being answered for the baby when he tries dropping the object and seeing it fall for himself. Piaget also believed that there were certain developmental stages that children went through at certain ages. For example, infants to two year old children are in the sensorimotor stage. This means that they learn from taking information in through their senses and through physical learning. Once they are a bit older, from two to seven years, the children are in a preoperational stage. Here they can speak most likely, but they speak for themselves mostly, and cannot understand the perspectives of others. From ages seven to twelve is the concrete operational stage. They can understand concrete ideas and most likely do simple math skills like add and subtract. From twelve on up through adolescence is the formal operational stage. Logic is used, but abstract concepts and hypothetical ideas can also be understood and worked with.

Vygotsky, a Russian developmental psychologist took a more sociocultural approach. He believed that children learned based off of what was around them, who was around them, and what was being taught to them. This theory suggests that everything a baby knows is based off of what it observes. This could be cultural practices, or just everyday activities done by the baby's parents.

The last theory focuses on the way babies process information. This deals with what information is going into the child's long term memory through a process of encoding and retrieving , and what is just in their working memory.

Cassie does a lot of power point presentations in this course, which I find very helpful because sometimes talking about psychology just verbally is not enough to really grasp such a concept. She also shows many videos, which is useful since we cannot always have young children doing experiments in the classroom for us. Eventually we will be able to work with children, but we have more planning to do before we get to that.

We got an unusually long lunch break, two hours, because we were to meet at the library to get tour and an explanation of how to access scientific journals and such. The whole tour and explanation took about one hour. By the time we got out, about half of the class was ready to fall asleep.

My classmate, Catherine, and I decided to go to the gym after class because we had spent all week bent over books. The gym was a nice change of scene and it felt good to get a work out in. While walking back to our dorms from the gym, Catherine and I were talking and we discovered that we were actually in the same summer class at Brown University last summer, So You Want to be a Doctor, but we just didn't know it because the class size was too big. Finding this out was such a coincidence and I could not believe it.

After dinner with my psychology class mates, I went back to the dorms to work on tomorrows homework, which luckily was a little less than the night before's. I also got some e-mails from Alie discussing our final plans for our dinner with U Chicago alumni tomorrow. I am excited to meet these alum tomorrow and I am sure we will have plenty to discuss about the university. 

Had Fun Reading My Instructions, It Was Great.

Robert Performing Shannon Instructions
Today I woke up really early like at 7 AM, but my class starts until 9 AM, so I decided to go back to sleep more because sleep is not my best friend here. That means that you barely get to sleep. Then, I woke up at 8:20 AM and started getting ready for my class. I was nervous because today I was going to read my instructions of how to tie a tie. I was going through my instructions seeing if I was clear enough that if someone else were to try it, they won't get confuse with the instructions. I was hoping that Achy will give me a guy so he can perform how to tie a tie while I read my instructions. When I got to class; all my classmates were already there. Then I forgot that Achy had told us yesterday that she was coming late today, around 2 PM. Achy T.A, her name is Kemi, came into the room and told us that if we knew what we were the plans for today. First, we started writing on our journal from 9 AM to 10 PM. I was writing about how passionate I am about soccer and how soccer is a big part of my life. Then when our one hour journal time finished, Kemi told us if we needed to stretch to relief some tension in our body. I think it was a good idea because after I finished stretching I felt a lot better. 

Tess reading on how to braid hair.
Then Kemi said if we were ready to read our instructions and asked us if we wanted to do it in the classroom or outside. Everyone in our class decided to go outside and get some nice fresh air. As we were performing and every time someone finishes reading their instructions we were giving them feedback. Is a good strategy because then you know where you need to be more clear and add more details. When I was reading my instructions and Nina was performing it I saw where I need to be more specific and what things I needed to add, so it can be more understandable. Four of the girls made instruction about how to braid hair, but all of them
My Lunch
were a different type of braid. Three others made instructions for origami, I thought it was very cool because is a lot of steps and you have
to be
very clear about where to fold and how to fold. Kemi let us out at 12 PM to go get some lunch and we needed to be back at 1:30 PM. 

As I was walking to the Dining Hall I bump into Alexa and talked about the reading article that she has to read. Alexa told me that she only slept five hours and she woke up at 5 AM. I was shocked when she told me that because I would of probably fell asleep in class if I was her. Then I went to get food and when I finished I came to my room to start drafting my blog. I checked my email and I had two emails from Kevin and David (my mentor). I received feedback from them about how to tie a tie, but I emailed them late last night and there weren't able to reply until this morning but thanks for the help I appreciate it. It makes me happy that they are people out there that are willing to help me and knowing that I'm not alone; makes me feel more comfortable.

The view where I was sitting at.
When I went back to class we were waiting for achy to come. Achy came at 1:45 PM and she started talking about strengths and weaknesses in writing. Then she gave us time to think and write it down on a paper about our strength and weakness. When we were all done, we all shared one strength and one weakness to the class. Achy then made us think more in-depth suggesting if we have to pick a person that is the opposite of us who would it be and why. I picked my mom because she always judges people without knowing them and that's something I don't like about her. Then, Achy added that what would be one thing that will break that person down and that would be our assignment. We need to think like the other person and why they act a certain way. Then Achy let us out at 2:45 PM. I came straight to my room and started working on my assignment because is due at midnight. I finished my assignment and send it to Kevin, so he can take a quick look at it and check on my grammar. Kevin didn't take very long to email me back and I was glad because I wanted to get done with this once and for all. Kevin told me I done an excellent work on my writing and gave me good compliments and that made me feel very proud about myself. Kevin always gives me good tips, so I can improve on my writing skills. Then
My dinner plate
I corrected my essay again and I got it done by 5 PM. Then, I went to get dinner at the Dining Hall. No one was there only a few students it surprised me, I think I was there too early.

The vie from my window.
After I got done with my food I came back to my room and work on my story that I worked on Monday. I needed to write about a character point of view from the story, "The Indian Camp". My character is George so I needed to make a background of him and tell the story with the same dialogue but in his point of view. It was hard for me because my professor corrected and I had a lot of mistakes so I started to work on it. I have to correct it and send it back to her tomorrow before 5 PM. At 8:30 PM I took a break and I went to take a walk outside to go get fresh air and clear my mind. They were watching a movie outside in the grass. It was a group of kids with their family watching The Lego Movie. I stayed watching in for five minutes and then kept on walking around the grass where the group of kids and family were watching the movie. Then, I came back to South Campus and went to my room. At 9:55 PM, I went downstairs to the West Lounge to sign in for my curfew hours. 

I hope tomorrow we will have fun discussing about our opposite person and the things they can't live without.

Got to love the view.