The Apprentice Experience

Dipankan Bhattacharya

Apprentice in the Harland Lab (Molecular & Cell Biology)

When I was in high school, I had no idea of what research actually meant beyond lab coats and safety goggles; I didn't know what pipetting or other lab techniques were. After my first semester here I decided to try URAP and was invited for the initial interview with Professor Harland, along with one other student. Doctor Harland asked us about our previous experience, and the student next to me started to talk about all his research experience. He had done some research including stints at UCSF and Stanford. I remember thinking “Darn, I don't even know what pipetting is”. I told Dr. Harland that I had never done research, and didn't know if I wanted to go to grad school or med school. I was applying to find out. It turned out that I got the position. That was great. That is the advice I would like to give to anyone who reads this: If you wonder “Should I say this or that about myself” I would say just be honest, and try to show them who you are more than what you have accomplished by making a long list. Be honest, and it will work out better for you.

That is very good advice. Let's talk a little bit about what is it that you are currently working on....

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Aurora Gomez

Apprentice with Professor Baquedano-Lopez (Education)

Comparing science education in religious vs. public school education

Please tell us about the project you are currently working on.

I should give you some background. When I first started here (in fall 2005), Professor Baquedano-Lopez had me look at tapes of projects that involved religious schools, Sunday Schools in particular. After that I analyzed data from another project, which was about how to make science more "user-friendly" for elementary school kids by providing teachers with more materials and guidance about curriculum planning. It was a pilot program that was trying to make science easier for the students to grasp, more accessible, especially for kids from poorer schools where the science curriculum might be not very strong.

At the moment, I am looking at the connection between these two projects: I am looking at the differences and similarities between the public school education and the religious school education in regards to science. Professor Baquedano-Lopez is also having me look at how the concept of time is socialized within the two settings.

In addition to the Sunday School education, there is also some data on year-...

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Erica Lee

Apprentice with Professor Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby (Art History)

Representation of Scale: What is it like to work closely with a faculty mentor on a book-in-progress project?

Let's talk about the project you are currently working on.

Professor Grigsby is working on a book on representations of scale of four 19th century French structures: the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty. These colossal structures - the Eiffel Tower was the tallest tower, the Panama Canal was the deepest trench- symbolized Western feats of technological prowess. But immediately, and in the case of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty before the structures were finished, they were miniaturized in souvenirs. Many people know them through these souvenirs as opposed to the full-scale structures. During the construction of the Panama Canal and Suez Canal, the images of the work that circulated were not so much in hand-held miniatures or models, but in coins and stereoviews. Stereoviews are now obscure tools, but in the 19th century, they were an extremely popular form of entertainment; everyone had hand-held stereoviewers in their living rooms that would turn doubled photographic images (stereoviews) into three-...

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Katarina Makmure

Apprentice with Professor Sarah Hake (Plant and Microbial Biology)

Tell us what you are currently working on.

The official description is mapping mutations to chromosomes. There is a certain phenotype in maize called 'fascicled': instead of developing one regular corn ear, the plant develops a branching sort of ear. You can imagine it as five pieces of corn fitted into one ear. This is a dominant phenotype, which makes it actually harder to track. If you have one dominant and one recessive genotype, the dominant phenotype still shows. Right now, we are isolating purely dominant genotypes so we can find where in the corn genome this mutation is.

What kind of techniques are involved?

If you go to the very beginning of the research process, you would start with planting the corn. Even though corn is a fast- growing organism, it is still not as fast as bacteria, and you have to plan your experiments around the growing cycle. First, you extract the DNA from the leaves. You use this to make sure you have a homozygous organism, and then you let it grow ears. After that, you do PCR - that involves pipetting, electrophoresis, and visualizing that under the UV light. There is a phenomenon called drooping leaf that is present in...

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Anne Powers

Apprentice with the Emma Goldman Papers

What motivated you to apply to URAP?

In my freshman year, I started to look for opportunities to get some research experience. While reading the URAP project descriptions I came across the Emma Goldman Papers, and it attracted me because I am interested in the time period around World War I. I applied at the beginning of my sophomore year and was accepted, and it's been a lot of fun.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I am sifting through WWI era newspapers trying to find traces of pacifists and conscientious objectors. President Wilson at the onset of the war said it was fine to be an objector and a pacifist, but toward the end of the war those objectors were jailed and the pacifist organizations were shut down.

What format do those papers come in? Are you looking at online archives or microfiche records?

Usually it is a combination of online archive and microfiche. Whenever I can, I use the online archive because working with the microfiche records makes me dizzy after a while. But whenever there is not much there other than information about the big figures, I go to the microfilm room and try to flush out more detailed...

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