Mr. Jirreaubi Jennings and Mr. Reynolds Royce Getting to the Scientific Root of NASA

Posted in Claflin Interns on July 7, 2010 by claflininterns

During the short time we’ve interned at NASA Kennedy Space Center under Dr. Oscar Monje, we learned a great deal about science and engineering.  From learning the procedures and techniques all the way to simple things like knowing the rationale behind our course of action.  To be certain, those are two things we will take from this internship, because Dr. Monje always stressed you knowing why you were doing something and knowing how to do it.

He showed us that it pays to learn as much about as many subjects as you can because that allows you to be more independent when doing experiments.  That demonstrated to us that if you can do your job, then you won’t rely on anyone else and simultaneously be more efficient.  Although we cannot begin to explain all that we have learned over this internship, we will say that we took away a few life lessons besides the engineering and biological subject matter.

The beginning of our internship was weird and unorthodox because we were out of our field.  But reflecting back on the experiment, we realize how much engineering is related to plant biology.

Dr. Monje began by giving us a good background on what plant biology is and showed us what goes on at KSC in terms of plant biology.  Then, he explained what we would be doing and still the overall outcome wasn’t clear to us.   We believe Dr. Monje realized that we weren’t sure about the overall goal of our experiment so he gave us large objectives in sections and it wasn’t until the end of the internship that we realized the end game. With that said, during the entire experience that seemed to always be his main goal; getting us to realize why we are doing the things we are doing. Looking back with hindsight we now realize that.

 He started us out in our experiment by having us develop a way to drain water from a root module.  That was so we would be able to manipulate the moisture content in the soil in order to promote better growth of plants in space. We learned that there is a problem growing plants in space because the difference in gravity either causes water to flow more erratically than it does on Earth or causes it to gather in a certain area.  That causes the plants to get an insufficient amount of water. To start, we cut tubing and connected it to act as drainage source and then connected a quick disconnect to the end so we could insert or extract as much water as we wanted.

Once that was completed, we had to do measuring tests on the root module to get the mass empty and the mass when it was filled with water.  We repeated that process again.  But this time, we added turf ace so we could develop a soil moisture curve. In doing so, we had to learn about sifting media, which is separating the different size grains of media.  And we had to sift the turf ace to get the 1-2 mm Turf ace that we needed for our experiment.

All these measurements were needed in order to get a soil moisture content curve which can either display the water present in relation to the volumetric moisture content or the total volume in relations to the water present. Once we displayed a good bit of soil moisture curves, we used them to prepare how we were going to plant our wheat seeds in the root module that we had been experimenting with. Once we planned our steps, we planted one root module with wheat seeds and then we began the electrical work.

We got the soil moisture content curves we needed to find how the water present in the module was related to the voltage of the module. Then, it was time to lace electrode tape on the outside of the nodule. We had to connect a CR23X micro logger in order to program the sensors to measure the moisture. It was necessary to build voltage dividers and leads that would allow the circuit to successfully measure the voltage without tilting and gauge it correctly.   Though it wasn’t easy, we finally got the system to work and it gave us a constant reading of the voltage of the root module. After that was done, we had to get the different readings of mass, voltage, water, and media present while the module was empty, with media, with water, and with both media and water. Once we got a good deal of these measurements we graphed them.   Royce Reynolds wrote the program to get the sensors to predict the water present by relating it to the voltage of the module. Through continuous trial and error, the program became consistently accurate with an error ratio of plus or minus six milliliters.

The overall point in our experiment was to develop some reliable sensors that measured the moisture inside the root module which had never been done before. Going into the process, we would have never been able to see the main objective.  Now that all is done we can honestly say we learned much more about plant biology than ever before.  Our mentor not only taught us on the subject matter but he also taught us about life.  These are also experiences we will never take for granted.

I appreciate all the people involved with the internship and words cannot express how thankful I am to Claflin-CIPAIR Project Director, Dr. Nesan Sriskanda, and his commitment to connect us with the NASA-KSC scientists and other officials for making it all possible.


Ms. Tasia Williams Insuring Fair Health Care in Chicago

Posted in Claflin Interns on July 7, 2010 by claflininterns

Over an eight week period, I will be interning at the Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators, Incorporated (EIIA) in Chicago, IL. The EIIA is a not-for-profit organization that offers a variety of insurance services to Christian institutions of higher education. Separated into four sections; EIIA provides Property & Casualty Insurance, Student Insurance, Employee Benefits, and Risk Management Services to over 140 colleges and universities across the United States of America.

As an advocate for insurance, EIIA is committed to providing a promise to each of their member institutions. Here, insurance is defined as “a social device for reducing risk by combining a sufficient number of homogeneous exposure units to make the losses collectively predictable. The losses are then shared proportionately by those in the contingency. It is the exchange of a small certain premium for a large uncertain loss.”

This definition serves as the foundation to the mission of EIIA and what they offer their member institutions. Over the past 40 years, I can honestly say that this corporation has continued to provide quality insurance at an affordable price.

Throughout this eight week period, I will be responsible for analyzing data, clarifying problems, and making recommendations for the benefit of EIIA. Each week, I am required to submit an observation on what I have encountered, learned, or gained from the current week of opportunities. As a current student at one of EIIA’s founding institutions, I feel obligated to take this knowledge back to Claflin University and inform other students of the health care coverage available to them. Overall, I believe this internship will expand my knowledge within the field of business while making me more aware of the insurance coverage available to Americans.

Ms. Marissa Bright Gets a Checkmark from Nike Marketing Research

Posted in Claflin Interns on July 7, 2010 by claflininterns

I work for Nike Department of 6.0 Action Sports at Nike WHQ (World Head Quarters) in Beaverton, Oregon. 

 I am a brand marketing intern.  My projects include developing the framework for a shop kid program, in ACtion Sport’s Core shops; mainly featured on the West Coast.  WIth this project, I will be flying back and forth to California to be involved in a Motel Notell event.  During this event, I , along with other interns, will be visiting core shops and conducting research to help along with the framework of our program.

 Another project I will be working on is a competitive analysis of our 6.0 Action Brand Apparel for Men.  This required three weeks of research of competitive companies and placing them where they are in the market.

 I attended the IT GIRL Event, which is a women’s apparel fashion show conducting among action sport’s athletics and celebrities to bring attention to the clothing line.  Other events I went to  this summer included: the U.S. Open of Surfing in Hunington Beach, California, an event where 500,000 people come out to watch the nation’s top surf competition, Walk the Walk Fashion Show by Hurley and  a Converse-sponsored concert.  I also got introduced to new swag from the Action Sports 6.0 Line.

Ms. Briauna Hawthrone Looks to Discover “Bonds” at Furman

Posted in Claflin Interns on July 6, 2010 by claflininterns

I am currently working with Dr. Fan and Tamera Johnson at Furman University doing research on halogen bonding between pyridine and perfluoroalkyl iodide. Basically, we are trying to prove that there is self intermolecular bonding going on between isoC3F7I.  We started out by testing them with different solvents using the FT-IR.  We looked for shifts that indicate a change in the bonding strength.

Right now, we are observing the shifts using F-NMR.  I like doing research here so far. Furman has great facilities and resources. We recently had a luncheon where we got to meet all of the companies that support this program, which was an excellent networking opportunity.

Furman is also sponsoring us to attend the New Orleans for the American Chemical Society Regional Meeting December 1-4.  

I look forward to continuing doing this research.

Ms. Jessica Myles Learning the Ins and Outs of Bioinformatics at Mississippi Valley St.

Posted in Claflin Interns on July 6, 2010 by claflininterns

I’ve been very occupied with my internship. Right now, I’m down in Itta Bena, Mississippi at Mississippi Valley State University for a bioinformatics internship.

 I’ve been down here since June 1 and it’s been a full schedule. This summer, they have the females with the internship staying in the honors dorm, which is really nice. The rooms are comfortable and my roommate is real nice.  She attends Florida Memorial in Miami, but she is from the Bahamas!

 I’m pretty sure when you first read the word bioinformatics, a puzzle looked crossed your face as it did mine. Basically bioinformatics is the field that produces software and different methods of annotating DNA strands.

 For this first month, we learned the basics of bioinformatics. We learned the history of bioinformatics, the history of the Genome Project, the programming language Python, how to use different genetic databases and the importance of this area of science and study.

 We’ve actually just began our two research projects for the remainder of the program, at which point we have to give an oral presentation to other scientists and faculty members. For the first project, I have to annotate 30 genes from the DNA strand of the bacteria Halothiobacillus neopolitanus c2. This bacteria produces carboxysomes, which aids in the carbon cycle. Annotating the genes helps the science community better understand ways to use the bacteria.

 The second project is constructing a program that can determine if a set of genes is a promotor gene.  Whether it is the right gene or not; we have to run it thru a system that can determine the probabiltiy of accuracy. Also, we have to determine its bond stability and bond strength which means making a second program to run the data. It all sounds pretty complicated and tiresome, and it is. They keep us pretty busy with all the work, especially at the same time we were taking a GRE prep class, attending team-building and career seminars and now we are taking a Hip-Hop Creative Expression class, which is an English elective course the campus offers to teach English through hip hop.

It has been a great experience thus far and it still is not over.

Mr. Aaron Shephard Takes a Gator Bite Out of Research at University of Florida

Posted in Claflin Interns on July 1, 2010 by claflininterns

Many times throughout freshmen orientation class I was told, “Go out and intern because the world is bigger than Claflin University and Orangeburg.”

That statement has defiantly been reinforced in my four weeks here at The University of Florida. Currently, I am interning with the Department of Biochemistry doing pheromone analysis in nematodes using NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) under Dr. Art Edison.

Being in the Edison lab has defiantly exposed me to the world of science and allowed me the opportunity to realize my personal strengths and weaknesses. Being at UF has also allowed me to enjoy the social and cultural differences that a larger school can offer.

When I got to the lab, I saw a whole bunch of equipment and chemicals that I had never seen before.  The focus of the Edison lab is the study of nematodes, so there was a lot of equipment geared towards raising, incubating, and analyzing the worms. Our project also involves the use of NMR spectroscopy to analyze and identify the chemicals signals produced. NMR requires a large magnetic field, so there was a separate lab full of large and very powerful magnets used for NMR and even MRIs. There are also many things outside of academics that UF has to offer. I can easily say I’m enjoying my time here. I even got to see Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which is better known to the rest of the country as “The Swamp.” I did not, however, see any sign of Tim Tebow.

Researching in the lab has allowed me to see the tools necessary for being a scientist. In a classroom setting, all of the information you need is usually given to you in class or in the lab manual. When doing research, however, you have to find and teach yourself what you need to know. Currently I am learning how to program on Matlab (a very useful software for data analysis and imaging), meaning that I have to go back and reteach myself the basic programming concepts from C class. Being in the lab is teaching me to teach myself, which I believe is an essential key to success in the real world.

In my almost four weeks here I have learned a little bit of my own personal strengths and weaknesses, along with some likes and dislikes. A strength that I have come to realized is that when I do understand something really complicated I can translate it into something simpler.  During the many presentations that I’ve attended I would often find myself thinking, “Wait why doesn’t he just say_____?  It would make lot more sense.”

I’ve also discovered that I like to be on my feet. Personally, I get a lot of pleasure from doing things like picking up the millimeter worms using a microscope and a piece of wire, mixing the chemicals to make a buffer to clean the worms, climbing a ladder to put in an NMR sample, and actually getting under the NMR machine to tweak the knobs for calibration.

Because I like being so active, I have discovered some weaknesses when I become inactive. When I sat down for a long period of time doing nothing, I found it extremely hard to stay attentive, or even awake for that matter. There were many times at first when I struggled (and sometimes failed) to stay awake during two hour long presentations or during the long days of sitting in workshops. Realizing this problem I decided to make little adjustments like going to sleep earlier the night before a presentation and keeping grapes and water around in case my eyes started to feel heavy.  I’m happy to say so far one I’ve seen at least one experimental method work!

I’m really looking forward to see what else this research experience will teach me over the next few weeks.

SGA President Mr. Steven Dial Delivering Big News in Atlanta

Posted in Claflin Interns on June 30, 2010 by claflininterns

“What a great experience!”

 I have been interning at CBS Atlanta News for about a month now.  Here at CBS, I am continuing to learn about the “fast-paced” world of journalism.  Atlanta is the #8 market in the country, so I am learning hands on from some of the top reporters, producers, and news directors in the local news arena.

This intern has helped me perfect my writing skills and how to properly articulate while speaking. I have worked on several stories in the past two weeks including: “The Sandy Springs Hoarder.” This story was breaking news here in Atlanta.  The story was about how a 38-year-old woman was living in her house for years with trash “waste-deep.” It took four firefighters and 40 minutes to get her out.

Also, I worked on a “Gang Graffiti” story.  With crime being very high in the city of Atlanta, we covered a story about how graffiti has been at parks for decades. We contacted the city and they came to clean up the graffiti at Mozely Park. Mozely Park was the first park for blacks in the city.

Yesterday, I went out on another breaking news story.  MARTA, Atlanta’s transit service board of directors made a major budget cut vote yesterday. This vote resulted in them termination over 200 workers, shutting down 40 bus lines and even closing some of their public restrooms at their train stations. They made these necessary cuts because they are millions of dollars in the red. I am continuing to cherish these memorable moments here at CBS and I am truly blessed to have this opportunity.

With the end of my internship experience coming soon,I have to create a resume tape before exiting the course. You can click the link below to see some of the work I have done so far here at CBS Atlanta News.