Alekzander Garcia Blog
The summer of 2017 before my junior year of college was a great experience overall. I was a student in Dr. Bjoern Hamberger’s lab, working with Sean Johnson, a post-doc in the lab. This experience allowed me to really expand my analytical skills with liquid-chromatography and mass-spectrometry, which I love to death. I have also been able to acquire technical skills in cloning through another member of the Hamberger Lab, Wajid Bhat. I spent countless hours looking over pathways, and hypothesizing structures in mint plants, and it was productive because I putatively discovered four novel structures in the mint plants.
Even though I spent much of my time thinking and working, I still made sure to save some time for personal development. Keep in mind, this summer had its ups and downs. I’ll never forget the time I went to Detroit with some of the people from the summer program. I parked my car at a McDonald’s and it was consequently towed, and the towing people absolutely high-way robbed me. Nonetheless, I learned to never leave my car at a McDonald’s, or go to Detroit. The trip overall was successful, and I had a great time with my friends there nonetheless.
Time for the even more good stuff. I saw every Great Lake, which has been on my bucket list for the longest time – since I was child for sure. I experienced this with another student in my program, Songhao Wu. We even went to Toronto, Canada and Niagara Falls (which were also two other life-goals). On the way back home, we went to a traditional Chinese restaurant with one of Songhao’s childhood friends! She was nice!
I spent a lot of time with my mentor, Sean Johnson, and Wajid Bhat. I ran my first 5k ever with them, and it was an awesome experience! I have been working hard to get myself back into shape: eating healthier, and jogging more often. I won’t forget the day where on a Friday out of the blue, we went out as a lab to eat Indian food. Then later that night, I went jogging with Sean…which soon became a 12.5 mile (20km) adventure. My mentor and I travelled by walking, running and jogging for the last three hours of that evening, and I really saw how far my body could go, and how hard I can push myself. It wasn’t that difficult because my legs were still conditioned from walking about 10 miles every day while I was in Canada with Songhao. I have high hopes to continue keeping this up while I am back home in Nashville, Tennessee.
I watched a few movies with Zach. It was awesome! We spent a lot of time hanging out and watching classics. We also went out to Conrad’s after watching Spiderman: Homecoming (It was Piyush’s first movie in America). I seriously won’t forget these guys.
Overall, this summer was full of many adventures, and I am quite sad to leave. Especially when you develop as a scientist, and learn more together, it becomes hard to say goodbye. I had meaningful experiences here in East Lansing Michigan through the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center Summer Undergraduate Research Program 2017. Bjoern Hamberger was an incredible PI, and Sean Johnson was a fantastic mentor. I was surrounded by seasoned scientists, and I have grown so much by being around them. I highly advocate for this program without any reservations. I really hope others will have as good of a time as I did (just don’t go to Detroit). I will never forget my experience here! The people here made the biggest impact on me. – Alekzander Sky Garcia, Tennessee State University