Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blog 11

Thursday and Friday:

On Thursday morning I gave my presentation on my encapsulation project. Overall, the presentation went very well, but after discussing my research with Professor Xu, I will be taking my research in a different direction. I will not be testing Avastin because this is a very expensive drug to buy, and it would be difficult to finish the necessary experiments in the time I have left (which is about 2 months now, I can’t believe I have already been here for about a month!). Instead I will be studying the release profile of microbubbles. This research will be closely related to Yuan Shuai’s work, and therefore can have a larger impact.
To determine the release profile of a microbubble, I will be encapsulating Rhodamine in a PLGA bubble. Rhodamine is a toxic chemical that has fluorescent properties, which makes it easy to image. The concentration profile of the microbubbles will tell us how long the microbubbles can sustain release of Rhodamine. If a drug is administered without encapsulation, there should be a large spike in concentration of the drug, and then a quick decrease in concentration as the body filters out the drug. The goal for microencapsulation is to have a gradual increase in the concentration of Rhodamine, and then to level out a certain concentration for an extended period of time.
The rest Thursday afternoon was spent working on my presentation of chapters 5 and 6 of the book Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers. Chapters 5 and 6 are about the Materials and Methods and Results section of a research paper.
After going on a run in the evening, I got a text from He Yutong inviting me to get “toast” with her and her lab group. Professor Xu’s lab is broken into 3 sections so He Yutong is in a different section of Professor Xu’s lab. Since the lab groups are right next to one another, I still see the people from this lab a lot! He Yutong explained to me that toast is like barbeque food. We met at the gate of the campus, and right outside there were a bunch of people sitting and eating at tables set up alongside the road. We had a large group of 11 people around a table, and ordered a bunch of food. It was pretty spicy, but absolutely delicious. We also all shared a few bottles of beer. Wengi explained to me that it is a custom in China for everyone to make a toast to an honored guest and to drink with them. When tapping glasses, the person making the toast always has their cup below the honored guest. During this dinner, the other people referred to me as the “customer”. This made me laugh because they used that word because I was the one recipient of the customs. Everyone went around the table and made a toast with me.  Some of the people were not able to speak English very well, so they would just say “It is nice to meet you”.  I had so much fun at this dinner because I learned a lot about the other members of the lab. Especially about what NBA basketball teams they liked!

Above is a photo of the “toast” in Thursday night! Most of the students in the lab are men. I have heard that the ratio of men to women at the school is 9 to 1. I have only met 3 other girls in the lab, but I can’t count the number of boys!

Above is a photo of He Yutong and me from the toast. She has her eyes closed, but I wanted to put a photo of her up because she was not in the other 2.

On Friday, I spent the morning finishing my presentation, returning emails, and doing more research to learn more about my new microencapsulation project. After lunch I had the opportunity to talk to Professor Xu about my projects. Professor Xu is leaving soon to go back to Ohio State University, so I want to make sure that I am prepared to work independently after he leaves. We discussed how to test the release profile of the drugs from the microspheres, and how to develop a protocol for this experiment. We also discussed how the eye model needs to be 3D Printed instead of made my PDMS. Though PDMS is a better material, the model will have more details that need to be created by a 3D printer. I will have to find a new 3D printing material that has better properties than the current material. I am excited to get started on this work!
After the meeting, I gave my presentation on writing research papers. I thought that the meeting went very well! I had more participation from the other students in the lab this week. It has been great to get some more experience with public speaking. Generally when I give presentations I get very nervous and I talk fast. I think this experience has helped me practice slowing down and speaking clearly. 
On Friday afternoon, Professor Xu and Dr. Si took all the students from our lab to another very nice dinner. Professor Xu asked everyone to translate the names of the dishes into something that sounds appetizing because some of the dishes have unusual names.  Despite the effort, I was still introduced to dishes that were called Beggars chicken, stinky fish, stinky tofu, and 1000 year eggs. Professor Xu explained to me that the 1000 year egg is a preserved bird’s egg, and that it was on a television show for being one of the world most disgusting foods. Below is a photo of the 1000 year egg. Though it looked pretty gross, it was pretty good!

Below are a couple more photos from dinner. Dr. Si took a large group photo on his phone, so I am hoping I can get this from him to post next week!

After dinner I went back to the lab for a little bit with the rest of the students. On Friday nights the other students will play video games if they don’t have a lot of work to accomplish. After a while I left to buy a candy bar and watch a movie back in my room. Of the things I miss most from home, other than my family and friends, chocolate desserts are definitely one of them.

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