Back to wearing shorts and sandals…

…  If that is my biggest complaint with this internship then I would say the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.  For a review to those who attended the safety workshop in first week,  when working in a chemistry lab (which ours is) it is required to wear closed toed shoes and pants (of course safety goggles and a lab coat also) in the case of a chemical accident.  Well, better safe than sorry. Now that I have gotten that large concern off of my chest, lets hear the good news.

Well, I will start by asking a question.  Has this internship changed me?  Am I a different person now then who I was eight weeks ago?  I would say so.  I now have eight weeks of research under my belt.  As for how that has changed my skills and goals,  I now know how to make a scientific poster, write an abstract, present a power point in front of a very large camera and the most qualified professors, and a better grasp on what I want out of academia.  I guess overall, a large increase in my scientific “confidence.”  Yet, when I look back at what was the most important to me, it was the people.

It is kind of funny,  when I used to think of professional researchers, I would think of these very serious people in white lab coats.  Now that I have spent many hours in labs with these folks, I have found the only true stereotype is the lab coat thing but ours are blue.  These people have great senses of humor, are extremely intelligent, hardworking, and are down to earth.  Educationally speaking they are very different, electrical engineering, physics, neuroscience, polymer chemistry. I guess, our group needs to be in order to solve such a difficult interdisciplinary problem.  Yet, what I have observed to be very similar in all the researchers is their sense of curiosity.  I hypothesize this huge curiosity is what makes the lab I worked in so special.  It was the source of energy that pushed my mentor to spend many long nights in the clean room designing something new.  Yet, as I said before, it was in everyone I worked with. In our post doctoral polymer chemist, it was curiosity that helped him design a new type of functional polymer.  I even found curiosity building up in myself.

So to conclude, what INSET program has taught me is how to use my curiosity to push myself to explore research and I hope that anyone reading this unlocks their own curiosity because it is curiosity that will change this world for the better.  Ask the question, “how does this that work and how can I make it work better?”  Better yet, do it!!  It seemed to work for me. 🙂  Thank you INSET for helping me learn so much more about myself in eight short weeks.

My First Few Weeks With INSET

Hello everyone,

Let me tell you about my experiences with INSET.  The first day was rather intimidating, well the first few days for that matter.  There was so much going on, including, meeting a lot of new people, going through safety training, researching my project, and just trying to grasp what I will be doing for the next eight weeks.  Honestly, my goal was to just to not break anything expensive for a couple of days and soak in as much information as possible.  I do not want you to get the impression that the first few days was bad, in fact it was quite the opposite.  Just a lot going on around me.  Yet trust me, you  learn and adapt very quickly.  It is fantastic being around people who are so passionate about what they are doing.  It really rubs off on you.  The environment around me was very positive and helpful.  My mentor was very patient with me and answered my many questions.  Now that this internship is really rolling, I really love the creativity and freedom allowed in research.   Spending time with these graduate students has really been a great source of information on how graduate school works and is helping me find my own path.   “transition to research.” 🙂  My project is very complex because it combines so many different aspects of science.   I am helping my mentor design a high density neural implant.  Which means I am making a very small spiky chip (picture down below) that can be inserted in the brain and acts like an antenna to pick up brain signals.  These brain signals can vary but the ones that we are focused on are the pulses in the motor cortex.  The plan is to pick up on thoughts and use that information to control something in the environment.  This technology is already out there like with braingate which is the video I posted with this entry, we are simply improving the design with our own modifications.  These modifications include making the device wireless and more biologically friendly.  Below are some illustrations that hopefully with make more sense.  My advice so far is to ask as many questions as possible and to know that it is perfectly fine to not know something, in fact it is expected.  Well this is my first blog post ever, so thank you for reading this.

P.S. I would like to say thank you to all the people who make this program happen.  This includes mentors, faculty advisers, and the folks in-charge of the INSET program such as Jens, Maria, and Dr. Arnold.   Thank you so much for all of the hard work, email responses, and just time and effort that you guys and girls put into this program.  It is extremely generous.

Here is the link for the Braingate project demonstration.  (It might make things more clear)


High Density Neural Implant ( This is what I make in the lab)   Below this picture is how my design fits into the larger scale project.

Photos from: