Wow. These last few weeks have been a little insane. Crunch time! So here’s a bit of a recap of what I’ve been up to:

Labwork has slowed down slightly, as I’ve been busy with essays and Blair has been getting ready for the Marine Science Seminar tomorrow. I’m planning on going to see him present, I think it’ll be interesting and very educational to learn how he presents research – good pointers for my own Undergraduate Research Colloquium on Thursday! I spent a decent chunk of time fine-tuning my poster today, it’s just awaiting Blair’s approval before printing. And once that’s taken care of I can finally start my research proposal! It’s what I’m most excited about doing, but I’ve had to put it on the backburner to take care of deadlines that came up sooner. Dave is requiring as part of his Field Studies in Marine Biogeochemistry class that we submit a research proposal, so once the Colloquium is done I’ll be meeting with Blair to hammer out precisely what I want to do this summer and on the cruise as an independent project. Exciting ๐Ÿ™‚

The main source of hectic in my life has been SACNAS as usual – I’m registered to attend the National Conference in October and submitted an abstract to present my research there as well. Last year I had no idea what to expect and had so much fun, I’m looking forward to this year and knowing what I’m getting into ๐Ÿ˜‰ i.e. Busy days, tons of interesting people and bringing more comfortable shoes! I’ve also submitted my application to study abroad for a quarter in Costa Rica. I chose Costa Rica because as part of the program you do independent research with the Monteverde Institute, and it includes hiking out to a research outpost in the cloud forest! I can’t think of a better place to study Tropical Ecology and rev up my Spanish.

Classes are busy as usual. The paper for my Writing class is going well, and I’ve started a research paper for my history of Africa class on the conflicting ways a Zulu leader from the early 1800’s is portrayed. I have to admit, I think it’s pretty interesting and I wish I had more time to take random history classes. I signed up for Fall classes today as well – I got the Biology of Fishes class I had my heart on! I’m looking forward to taking a class that actually pertains to my career interest… I like Biology but these MCDB courses are not for me. Unfortunately, Fishes conflicts with the Intermediate Sailing class ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’ve had so much fun sailing this quarter, even last week when the winds were ย scary strong and we almost capsized! Anyone even vaguely interested in Aquatic anything should definitely sign up, it’s very universal boat knowledge along with being a fantastic excuse to be outside on the water for 2 hours a week.

And in other news, I have a new idol. On Friday I had a meeting with Professor Steve Gaines, the Dean of the Bren School… Can I please be him when I grow up? We talked for over an hour, and he has the kind of career I’ve always dreamed of. He’s gotten to work with amazing people, traveled all over the world (even to South Africa, which is still my dream), pursued random topics of research that interested him and helped lots of graduate students do the same. What struck me most was how utterly happy he was about his job. My dad is a Fisheries Biologist, and his work has been a huge influence on where I am today, but he got promoted to supervisor and now spends all his time behind a desk doing paperwork and proofreading for other people’s mistakes. He doesn’t get to spend as much time in the field as he’d like without working way overtime, and that’s always made me sad. Professor Gaines has my ideal balance between travel, talking to people and presenting, and getting to muck about in the field. He gave me some very good advice about coursework, research and life in general, which I plan on following to the T ๐Ÿ™‚

So, there’s my life in a rather large nutshell. It’s been stressful, there have been a few 14 hour days, but I feel like this has been my most satisfying and productive quarter to date. And as this is the last thing on today’s To Do List, I’m going to take a deep breath, remind my body how to relax and go curl up in bed and listen to the rain ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in 2010-2011, EUREKA

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Alex Iteen is a second year student majoring in Biology. He is interested in bioengineering and synthetic biology. He is currently working in Dr. Fygenson's lab on DNA nanotubes.
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