The opportunity to be a summer research student in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at Michigan State University was quite an amazing experience. I was in Dr. Eric Hegg’s lab in biochemistry. Since my mentor, Gracielou Klinger, (who is the greatest mentor ever) had two advisors, I also spent much of my time in Dr. Ned Jackson’s lab in the chemistry building. My work was on developing an organic sulfur catalyst that could be used to break down lignin to upgrade it into fuels and chemicals. I learned more about electrochemistry than I ever wanted to.
Even though some days were frustrating because experiments didn’t work at all, I absolutely loved the summer. The people I was around, both in the lab and my fellow summer research students, were incredible people. Within a week of meeting them, I already felt like they were my best friends. Since a couple of us had cars, we went to the beach four or five times over the course of summer, which was always fun. I grew up going to Lake Michigan, but it was fun to see how people who had never seen it before marveled at how big it is. Chrislyn organized all kinds of field trips for us, both educational and recreational.
As a board game geek, I coerced everyone into playing board games with me, which they agreed to do, if only with varying degrees of reluctance at first. Once we all got to know each other we found all kinds of activities to do together. We played Spikeball, watched movies, went out to dinner, got ice cream, and all kinds of other things. I even made up Olympic Games for the Fourth of July.
I was so incredibly fortunate to get to spend my summer at Michigan State University. I learned a lot, about my research and otherwise, and made amazing friends that I hope to keep for years to come. If you are reading this because you are considering this program, apply right now!!