Isabel Arrocha

When I found out I got accepted to GLBRC’s summer research program I was ecstatic but scared at the same time. I was going to be living in a state I had never visited before, with people I had never met, and on a topic I knew nothing about. However, it turned out to be one of the most fun learning experiences I’ve ever had. Since I’m a Biological Engineering major, I’m not very familiar with all the fundamentals of chemistry and microbiology, so I was lucky to be placed in Dr. Jiquan Chen’s lab, because it was a perfect match. The LEES Lab project I joined was focused on measuring albedo, the ratio of reflected versus incident radiation on a surface, of biofuel crops in order to determine their sustainability.

Isabel Arrocha

The first day I met my mentor, Cheyenne, she told me I had no idea what I was in for because we would have exhausting 12-hour work days out in the field; little did I know that would be the coolest part of my research. We had to go out to Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) at least once a week (on some weeks we had to go out for three days) to measure albedo at different research plots, collect data, and fix sensors. Working out there was exhausting, but it was definitely more fun than being in a lab. Also, I wasn’t the only intern in the lab so I wasn’t the only one learning about the research from scratch and I made great friends along the way because everyone was so nice and welcoming. They even took me out to dinner once, and Dr. Chen threw a mini goodbye party for me at his house.

Other than work, there was plenty to do at Michigan. I’m extremely grateful with the group of students in the program because I made lifelong friends and it wouldn’t have been as fun without them. Our favorite activity during the week was going for ice cream at the dairy store. Let me tell you, having ice cream that good, so close to the dorm, is nothing but a dream come true. During the weekends I got to explore Michigan, from the beaches at Lake Michigan to Detroit. I even got to go to a music festival at Detroit with one of the good friends I made in the program.

Michigan and MSU will always hold a place in my heart. Living in a new place and not knowing anyone at the beginning of the summer was rough, but it ended up being a summer full of learning, making new friends, visiting new places, and lots of fun. This experience gave me a preview of what grad school is like and taught me the skills necessary to succeed in it. I am so excited to continue doing research that will, hopefully, one day help to improve our environment.

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