Jasmin Hume, a fourth year PhD student in Materials Science, and Jennifer Sun, a senior in the Biomolecular Science Program, two students in the Montclare Lab, were recently recipients of the Army Research Office Undergraduate School Apprenticeship Program (ARO-URAP) and the Graduate Mentoring Fellowship.
Highlight based on our recent paper in biomacromolecules
For a bit of variety, I suppose I should delve into what science may be able to bring us in the future as opposed to what science has done for us in the past.
Ever the internet enthusiast and connoisseur, I stumbled upon a news article last week detailing the creation and consumption of the first fully lab-engineered hamburger. The goal of the experiment, headed by Dutch researcher Mark Post of the University of Maastricht, was to create a hamburger that looked and tasted identical to a real hamburger. The muscle cells were collected from healthy cows and cultured into the resulting beef patties. Although they were judged to be a tad flavorless, this setback could easily be solved by engineering fat tissue into the meat, which gives meat its characteristic flavor.
At the price of $325,000, these burgers won’t be solving world hunger anytime soon, but humanity has made the first step. The prototype is there. Now it is up to future researchers and engineers to build on this research, to make the artificial burger experience closer to the real deal, to make the burger healthy and ensure its safety for human consumption. Most importantly, it is imperative to scale its production up so that the food becomes economically feasible to produce, store, and consume so that one day it may truly help solve world hunger.
It is these types of scientific breakthroughs: lab-engineered meat, ultra high-speed transportation, growing whole organs with stem cells, and many others, that drive many researchers’ curiosity and research, including myself. Where science will take us, no one truly knows. Will we conquer diseases? Will we never have to worry about nourishment again? Can we attain instantaneous transportation? Will we find out what is really out there? These questions are what motivate me in my efforts.
Merriam-Webster defines science as the state of knowing: something that may be learned like systematized knowledge. The science of science however is something that will never be learned. It seems that with recent discoveries the unknown mysteries of science are becoming less and less, but we will never learn everything that there is to learn about the universe. That is precisely why many scientists love it. We are constantly chasing knowledge that we know is out of reach, but are still obsessed with the journey that it can take us on.
My journey started from a very early age, I have always been obsessed with how and why things were able to work. Science has always been the subject that I looked forward to. I dreaded everything else. Towards the end of high school, I decided to commit myself to science and with that I started my career in science.
This past summer I started my research career in a protein engineering research lab; the journey has been full of excitement. Performing my own research on experiments I designed is unlike any other science class I have experienced. The experiments that I am able to do are much more in depth and oftentimes open-ended in nature. The best part of the experience is the opportunity to test my own ideas and see the results of my own protocols. The weirdest part is seeing results that you don’t expect; figuring out the reason behind the peculiar results is a tough task but rewarding.
In the summer, I have just started taking real steps in my scientific journey. Although I have spent countless hours in the lab, I love every minute of it.
I am science
I’ve always had a passion for science. I’ve pretty much always known I’ve wanted to work in the lab and do research. In my head I had this idea of what it would be like. You get all those ideas from television shows and movies about how it’s all mixing chemicals and seeing immediate results and amazing things happens. Then you get to college and you realize it’s nothing like that.
In college I sat there running experiments from a textbook. These experiments become rather repetitive and tedious. Week to week I performed the same general experiments on the same equipment – or no equipment at all – getting the same results, and then writing the same lab reports over and over. When I finally got the chance to work in a real lab, doing real research, things again changed drastically from what I expected.
Once I got into an actual lab, it was nothing like the labs in college classes. It wasn’t like my 6th grade expectations either. But I suppose if you really think about it, it’s a meld of both. Just within my first couple days I was able to learn so much, without even having stepped foot inside of the lab. Once I was actually able to get in the lab and start doing stuff, the excitement just grew. I was finally able to do experiments and learn more about what it’s actually like to work in a lab setting. Now, being here for a little while, I’m actually able to design my own experiments to a point where I can test a hypothesis, or test whether something works better or not. To top it all off, I get to learn about and use all these machines that I’ve never had the privilege to use in a college lab setting. I get to get better results and accurate results.
And lastly, I get to work with these amazing people who have knowledge in the research they are doing. They are friendly and not only that, they help you and push you to keep going and learn more. I have my mentor and he constantly is pushing me to learn more and to work harder and overall just wants me to do well in the lab. It’s the experiences like this that I’ve wanted in my life while working in a lab. I get to actually help in the lab and provide my contribution to the research. It’s an amazing opportunity that I’m extremely grateful to have.
Lewis Dots App participates in Science Hack Day @NYU ITP and @NYUPoly as part of the 2013 World Science Festival!
Help make the “Lewis Dots” App better at the 48 hour Hackathon (http://sciencehackday.pbworks.com/w/page/65737144/nyc2013ideas%20#iPadChemistryMakeChemicalBondingEasytoLearn) event today and tomorrow (6/1-6/2/13). Your suggestions and input are welcome! Please use #LDAppHack when providing your comments! Will use your live tweets to modify the app!
PS. You can follow me @jkmontclare and get live twitter updates at the event starting 9 am!
After months of seemingly endless grant writing and faculty obligations, I now have a short break where I can breathe until my next grant.
Recognizing bias and making a difference
In light of International Women’s Day, I have decided to write about gender bias.
I am a scientist/ engineer/ educator and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be at an academic institution leading a group of bright, creative, hard-working young scientists. I firmly believe it is a privilege to mentor others and have a deep rooted responsibility to make sure I do my best to help my students develop into the best scientist that can be. Their future is dependent on their success and so my role as their mentor is extremely important.
I also happen to be female and I fully recognize the forms of discrimination out there in terms of gender, ethnicity and race. While it unfortunately exists, it never entered my mind that I could engage in gender bias until I had my daughter. I realized that in my daily interactions with her, my initial comments were on her physical appearance (ie-her cute outfit), which were followed by her actions (ie-her love of building with her blocks). The subtle emphasis my daughter was receiving from me was that her appearance was more important than her actions.
Once I realized my own subtle form of bias, I stopped. I now consciously note her actions and make sure that is emphasized foremost in my daily interactions with her.
From this experience, I am more diligent about recognizing subtle forms of gender bias. They do exist and I urge you to self-reflect and make the change in your own actions. I am more conscientious of my actions with my students and colleagues. And importantly, I am expressing this as a form of support to other women and women in STEM fields. Building support where we recognize bias is essential to increasing women and diversity. So please share this perspective with others and make a difference.
What are your views on gender bias?