Thursday, July 31, 2014

Blog 22

Research Project:

The last week of my trip I focused on finishing up my eye model project. I sent the model that was created by the other OSU student to a company in Shanghai to be printed using a flexible material. I also spent time this week making small changes to my model, before sending it to be printed at USTC. This model will be used with a force-sensing resistor (FSR) that can be implanted between the ocular chamber and the cranial chamber. Since the printing machines at USTC were in use most of the weekend, we were not able to send the model to the printer until Monday. Since my advisor, Dr. Si, will be coming to OSU in September, he will be bringing both of these eye models back with him. At that point, I will be gathering the additional materials for the model and testing it to ensure that it is effective for the intended experiments. I will have one last post to give a summary of my eye model project when the model is complete and fully assembled. Below is a photo of the printed model I created.

Farewell dinners:

Since there were a lot of good byes to say this last week, I had a lot of dinner plans. On Wednesday, I had a dinner with Dr. Tong. He will be coming to OSU in January 2015. It has been so nice getting to know him. We also invited him to a farewell dinner for Dr. Si and I with the rest of the lab. This dinner was a hot pot dinner at a nice restaurant. It was great to end my trip with such delicious food. To say thank you to the other members of the dragon boat team, I treated some of my teammates to dinner. I also invited the other American students from Lehigh to this dinner. It was a very interesting cultural exchange experience to have the other Americans at this dinner because there was a wide range of personalities among the group. It was so fun to get to know these people and I enjoyed introducing them to some of my friends at USTC. Below is a photo of the last dinner with the lab.

Lab Retreat:

On Thursday there was a retreat for all the members of the lab. To begin, each member presented his or her goals for the future. My hope is that I start a family, work a stable job as an engineer, and travel the world. I also talked about some more specific goals from my bucket list such as running a marathon with my two sisters. After everyone presented, we played some fun games! I took part in a game in which one person stood with their back facing a smart board and the other partner stood facing the smart board. Words would pop up on the screen and the partner facing the board would describe the word for the other partner to guess. Some of the categories were in English and Chinese so that I could participate in the game. The category we chose was sports, which was pretty easy because I could act out the sports. Though I was proud of my partner and I, we still got second to last place in the competition. Below are some photos of the different games we played.

After the games, I gave a photo sharing presentation to the lab. The night before I created a slideshow with a lot of the photos from my trip. I was so happy I could take the time to thank everyone from the lab for being so welcoming. I was worried about traveling to China on my own, because I thought I would have trouble making friends. I realize now that I am so happy that I traveled on my own, because it forced me to build close relationships with the other students from the lab. The people from the lab were so kind by helping me with my research, showing me around Hefei, and including me by taking me with them to lunch everyday. It was very hard to say goodbye to all the amazing people I met these past 3 months. Below is a photo from my presentation.

After my presentation we had time for lunch before having a group meeting about the business of the lab. Afterwards we all went to play pool before we went to dinner. Overall it was an amazing day!

The rest of my last week I spent preparing for my trip back to the US. I want to say a huge thank you to the OSA and Ms. Bonenfant for this incredible trip to China. I have had such an amazing experience that I will never forget. I have learned so much through my research and by being surrounded by such intelligent students here at USTC. I also was able to see some amazing sights and make friendships that will last a lifetime. Interacting with my friends in HeFei has challenged my perspective about many different topics and therefore made me feel more aware about differences and similarities between the 2 different cultures. I think that meeting these people has changed me and will help me be a better person in the future.  I cannot thank the OSA and Ms. Bonenfant enough for giving me this opportunity.

I also want to say a big thank you to Professor Xu. I think the lab he has built in HeFei is such a special place because the members of the lab have formed a big family. They all joke with each other and are such fun people to be surrounded by every day. I am so thankful to have been welcomed into this MBIT (lab for Multimodal Biomedical Imaging and Therapy) family.

Blog 21

Monday and Tuesday:

On Monday I continued working on my eye model project. I discussed the new drawings with Professor Xu, and I made some dimensioned drawings to better display my design. Below are photos of these dimensioned drawings. In the afternoon I was able to help Yuan Shuai with his experiment again by taking photos of the microbubbles he created. By the time I was done with this experiment, I needed to go back to my room to begin packing for the trip with the dragon boat team to Jiande, Zhejiang Province.

Tuesday morning we woke up early to begin our drive. I spent most of the 7 hour drive sleeping. The scenery in Jiande was breath taking.  Right outside of our hotel was the point where the Xin’an River met Shouchang Brook. The Xin’an River was a deep blue color and had a thick fog on the top and the other was a smaller brown colored river. Since the 2 rivers are such different temperatures, there is a clear division between the two.  Walking down by the river you feel an immediate gust of cool air. Surrounding the river on all sides are beautiful mountains.   After arriving at our hotel and eating lunch, the team went to visit a factory where Nongfu spring water is bottled. We learned about the source of the water, and how it is bottled and packaged. Below are some photos of the scenery and factory.

The photo above shows the clear divide between the 2 rivers.

After we got back to the hotel, most of the team met in one room to play games until dinner.  The games we played were called “table games” and the rest of the team spoke in English so that I could be a part of the games.  After dinner, the girls on the team met for dance practice. As a part of this competition, every team was required to have a performance to show at the feast after the race. Our team decided to have all the girls perform a dance. The dance was one that another girl previously performed and knew well. Unfortunately, I am an awful dancer and had a difficult time learning the moves. I agreed to do the dance under the condition that I be placed in the very back or off to the side during the performance. 

Wednesday and Thursday:

On Wednesday morning, most of the members of the team relaxed and watched a movie together until lunch. This movie was in English so I enjoyed watching it with the team! After lunch, I went with 4 other students from the team to a conference. This conference had important leaders from each school of the C9 league. The University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) is one of the schools in the C9 league, which I have learned is comparable to the Ivy League schools in America. One student from the team explained to me that there were about 300,000 high school students that took the college entrance exam in his province, and only the top 800 would have the opportunity to go to a school like USTC. It has been an incredible experience to be surrounded by such intelligent people the past 3 months.

During the conference, the leaders discussed student involvement in athletics. Students at these schools often do not want to get involved in sports teams such as the dragon boat team. This was seen in the competition because some had faculty members on their rowing team. USTC’s team was made up of undergraduate, masters, and PhD students, as well as a faculty member that works in the gym. Many different ideas were proposed as causes for the lack of student involvement and also for building up stronger athletics programs. During this conference, I was asked to talk about why I wanted to be a member of this team. Below is a photo of me at this conference.

At night I had another dance practice with the other girls before our rehearsal on the stage. At this time I was more nervous about the dance than the rowing competition because I still didn’t know all the moves! Most of the time, I had to look at other girls to figure out what move to do. This was more difficult on the stage because we were all standing in a straight line, whereas in practice I could stand behind one of the other girls.

Thursday was the big day of the competition, so we spent the morning relaxing and eating lots of good food. We left for the competition after our rest. The weather outside was beautiful and the sky was clear. At the competition site there was a large stage and people everywhere. Preparing for the race took a while because everyone had to put on their life vests, get their paddles, and get on the boat. Once all the teams were ready, we rowed out to the starting line where smaller boats would hold all the dragon boats in place. Once all the boats were in line, the official signaled the boats to get ready before sounding the beep that signaled the rowing to begin. I knew that USTC’s team has been very good for the last couple of years, but the other teams looked taller and stronger than ours, so I was pretty nervous about the competition. We first rowed 200 meters to determine which heat we would row in. The nine teams were divided up into 3 groups of 3 for the competition. We won this first 200 meter race by at least a boat length, so we were in the first group for the long 8,000 meter race. I previously thought this race would be 10,000 meters, so I was happy to hear that it was 2,000 meters shorter!

We rowed the boats back around to the starting line, and again prepared for the race. Everyone on the team was both tense and excited. The beep went off, and the drumming began at a very quick pace. Our team got a quick lead and rowed on the side of the river as close as we could to the wall. We had to row the first 4,000 meters against a current. After we had a comfortable lead, our pace slowed slightly to one that we could maintain for the rest of the race. It was such an incredible experience sitting in the boat, listening to the beat of the drum, feeling the cool air and water, and shouting out a word that sounded like “Ji-oh” meaning “Let’s go”. For part of the race our coach was running along with our boat on the side of the river yelling out to us and encouraging us. I thought the other teams were very close because I could clearly hear the sounds of their drums, but when we turned around I saw the significant lead we gained on the other teams. The second half of the race was with the current and seemed to go by so quickly. The excitement and adrenaline made this race seem less difficult than practice even though the distance was much further. We ended up winning first place in the competition! Below are some photos of the race and team.

After we received our awards and took lots of photos, our team went back to the hotel. After a quick shower we had a big feast with the other teams. During this dinner the performances from each team were given. I wish I could have eaten more, but I was so nervous for the dance that I didn’t have much of an appetite. We finally went up to perform, and though I struggled with the dance at some points, I didn’t forget the whole dance! Below are some photos of the performances from the other groups.
After the feast was over, our team went to KTV with some people from other teams. It was fun to relax and sing after an amazing day.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

On Friday we were able to sleep in before we went to see the Xin’an River dam. I learned that this dam was built about 50 years ago and formed the largest man-made lake in Asia called Quiandao Lake. Below are some photos of the lake and the dam. After we toured the area, we went back to the hotel for lunch. Afterwards, our team was able to go hiking and see Lingqi cave. Below are photos from the trip to the dam.

On Saturday, we spent the whole day driving back to HeFei. We should have gotten back to the school around 3:00 pm, but our bus was leaking gasoline, so we often had to stop to fix the problem. Instead, we got back to the HeFei around 7:00 pm. By this time we were all hungry, so we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant. This was a final goodbye for many people because some of the graduating students had to move out of USTC on Sunday. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone. We had such a special and unforgettable trip together and I feel so lucky to have met these amazing people.

Sunday most of the day was spent reorganizing after the long trip. I now only have about 9 days left, and I have a lot to do before then!

Blog 20

Monday and Tuesday:

In the lab on Monday I worked on dissolving rhodamine B into ethanol so that I could encapsulate more in each microcapsule. Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble with this because the rhodamine would never completely dissolve in the ethanol, even if the concentration was far below the solubility of rhodamine in ethanol. After dissolving a very small amount of a more pure rhodamine B sample into ethanol, Yuan Shuai and I determined that the rhodamine we have available to use is not pure enough for the intended experiment. Our options for this experiment are to encapsulate a new chemical, or to buy another higher quality sample of rhodamine. We decided to discuss the direction of this experiment with Professor Xu and Dr. Si later in the week.

In the afternoon, I helped Yuan Shuai with his experiment. I took photos of the microcapsules he collected, while he created his stable cone and took photographs of it. This experiment lasted most of the afternoon. I really enjoy learning from Yuan Shuai because he is very passionate about his work, and he has done such a great job developing his experiment.

On Tuesday morning I had another dragon boat practice. It has been fun to meet and spend time with the other members of the team. They often keep a light-hearted atmosphere during practice by joking around with one another and singing songs. Even though I generally have no idea what is being said, it is still nice to be around such happy friendly people.

I got back to the lab by about 2:30 and started working on a presentation for my eye model project that I would present in the meeting later that day. I also took some photos in the lab with Yuan Shuai and Lei Fan that were used to showcase the lab to students from other schools that would come see the lab on Wednesday. Below are some of the photos we took!

At the meeting on Tuesday night we talked more about some of the clinical uses of the eye model. As a summary of this meeting, we determined that there are two different possible eye models. One model would be used to test the effects of ocular and cranial pulsations on the optic nerve, an implanted sensor, or a mounted piece of ocular tissue. The second model would be used to determine how the non-contact tonometry test (air puff test) affects the lens and fluid movement in the eye.  This model may be more difficult to create because it requires a transparent 3D printed material. The group of people working on the eye model decided to have another meeting on Thursday morning to clarify the work we should be doing.

When I got home on Tuesday night I had the opportunity to talk to the four other American students that just arrived at USTC! They live on my floor and moved in earlier that day. These students are here from Lehigh University, and are working in different labs on campus. It was so fun to stay up talking to these people about the experiences we have had. It made me realize how many incredibly funny and unique experiences I have had throughout my trip. I am excited to see them around campus and to get to know them better!

Wednesday and Thursday:

Wednesday I spent most of my time creating a PowerPoint presentation for the Thursday morning meeting about the eye model project.  I did some research on intracranial and intraocular pressure and the diseases related to high ocular pressure. This information gave me a better idea of what the model should be simulating. In the afternoon there were a lot of students from other schools coming in and out of the lab. Some of the students from the lab were chosen to share their work with the group. It was hard to get a lot done during this time, but it was a fun atmosphere in the lab. After dinner I went with 3 other friends to go see the movie transformers. Below is a photo from the movie night!

Thursday morning I woke up early for our meeting about the eye model. During this meeting there were a lot of ideas shared about what features the model should have. I left this meeting with the goal of creating a model based on a new idea that Professor Xu had. I would first create the general model to show Professor Xu to ensure that I understood his ideas for the model. Since my meeting for the microencapsulation group was canceled that morning, I was able to spend the rest of my afternoon working on my PowerPoint slides for Friday’s paper sharing meeting. This is the last presentation I will be giving about the book, Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers by Mimi Zeiger.

After dinner on Friday I was able to help Yuan Shuai with his experiment again. It was the same concept, but this time he was working with triaxial electrospray instead of coaxial electrospray. I am happy I can help him with his work, because he has done so much to help me with mine!

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:

Friday was a very busy day, and began with another dragon boat practice. Below are some photos of the beginning of practice! We all generally start by rowing on the side of the dock before practicing in the boats. There are 2 people rowing on each bench in the boat, a person at the head of the boat beating a drum to keep rhythm, and a person in the back steering the boat. We generally practice in two small boats, but the boat for the competition will be different than these shown below, and will have all 20 people in the boat rowing.

After practice I went back to the lab to create a new model based on my understanding of what Professor Xu is looking for. I was able to focus on working on this project because the meeting that afternoon was canceled. After making the model, I was able to talk to Professor Xu again about what changes I should make. Below is a photo of this model.

At night I went swimming with another student from the lab. The pool is on East campus, which I think has some very beautiful scenery. Below is a photo of me in from of the lotus plants that have grown extremely tall and now cover the whole pond!

On our campus there are also these beautiful plants and flowers, but they do not cover the whole pond. Below are some photos of the lotus flowers from west campus. The tall building in the second photo is the west campus library.

Saturday and Sunday I spent most of my time in the lab working on a couple of different projects. Most of my time was spent making revisions to the eye model drawings that I have been working on. I was able to talk to Professor Xu on Saturday, after I made my first model to arrive at my newest model. Below are the photos of the progression of the model.

This model features a cranial chamber, ocular chamber, and a base. The base has 2 openings for the inlet and the outlet to the ocular chamber. These will be connected to a roller pump to create pulsations within the chamber. Between the ocular chamber and cranial chamber, there is a space to mount a strain gauge or other kind of sensor. These pieces will be held together by binding posts. The cranial chamber also has 2 holes in the back that will allow for the inlet and outlet of fluids. These will also be connected to a roller pump to create a pulsing flow. The cornea is not featured in this model because I plan to input the contact as the cornea as I previously discussed doing. Most of the changes to these models were made to ensure the eye is correctly scaled and to create the correct size for the binding parts.

I also had to work on an article that the coach of the dragon boat team asked me to write about being a member of the team. From what I understand, this will be posted on the English version of USTC’s website! Lastly, I was able to help another student from the dragon boat team by correcting her English paper. Overall, it was a very busy weekend, but it was great to get ahead on my work so that I can enjoy my trip this week!