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