Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Check-Ins: How Gemstone Students are Spending their Summers

This summer, we introduce a new article series to The Stone: Summer Check-ins, which will feature profiles of some of the diverse plans that Gemstone students have for the summer.

So without further ado, here are the first check-ins from Alex Boukhvalova, Kevin Chou, and Elfadil Osman!

Alex Boukhvalova
Year: Junior | Majors: Computer Science and Biology | Team: SCOPE

I’ve had the chance to travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for one week of internship training and then to San Diego, California for an 8-week internship program.  In San Diego, I’m interning at an immunology lab within Scripps Research Institute.   I’m studying protein design with regards antibodies for a conserved portion of the HIV virus, and I’m incredibly lucky because this is my first internship that fully encompasses both of my majors.  I have been working with modeling software to do structural based protein design and then will be doing wet lab work to test binding and stability.  Needless to say, it is an incredible amount of work and there are constant curve balls thrown because as Gemstone students we definitely all know that nothing ever goes as planned in research!

When I’m not in the lab, I have been using my spare time to explore San Diego and California.  For the first three weeks of my stay, I was in Solana Beach with a host family.  It was my first time staying with a host family, but my hosts were incredibly gracious and took me on multiple trips up and down the coast and even took me to a big Tango milonga, where I learned how to dance and got to watch a performance!  I just recently moved into University of California, San Diego (UCSD) apartments.  Fun fact about the apartments – they are almost completely occupied by a Brazilian exchange program so I have made so many friends with whom I honestly feel like I’m in a different country (maybe it’s because of the Portuguese all around?).  I’ve already had a chance to make one weekend trip to Los Angeles and am hoping to travel around California some more, but San Diego is such a big city that there is still so much left to see.  I live right next to a beautiful glider port (background of the picture) where people go every night to watch the sunset.  It really is interesting to compare the laid back and relaxed nature of the West Coast culture to the hustle and bustle of the East Coast – it’s definitely nice but takes a conscious effort to adjust between the two.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer holds and am excited to travel to Seattle and Leavenworth, Washington after San Diego for a final conference where I will present my research!