Gabriel Vázquez-Badillo

Four students holding badminton rackets posing in a gymnasium

This summer I was part of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) cohort at Michigan State University (MSU). I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Xuejun Qian, a postdoc in Dr. Shi-You Ding’s lab, where I analyzed with confocal laser scanning microscopy basic and acid chemical pretreatment methods and enzymatic hydrolysis in corn stover.

During the ten weeks, I had a lot of fun learning and merrymaking. As a group, we kayaked on Lake Lansing, visited Detroit, Chicago, and Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Lake Michigan), rollerbladed in Kalamazoo, and three of us spent the 4th of July weekend in Toronto and Montréal and stopped at Niagara Falls on our way back to East Lansing. In addition to merrymaking, the academic field trips and professional development workshops organized by Adrianna allowed me to learn first-hand about the implication of biomass in different forms of bioenergy, such as biogas, biofuels, and electricity, the advantages and disadvantages of first and second-generation bioenergy sources, and modern agricultural technologies, such as drones and software capable of predicting pests and diseases, monitoring soil health, and crop irrigation.

MSU is a big campus ideal for walking and running, with plenty of spots to read and relax. My favorite spots were the Beaumont Tower (I didn’t mind the carillon going off four times every hour) and the botanical garden. In addition to working out on campus, I joined the MSU badminton club –thanks to Sherry Sun, who taught me how to play– and played almost every day with new friends I made from India and China.

Overall, it was a great experience. I recommend GLBRC SURP for students looking for professional development, conducting research, networking, and having fun.

Read more REU blogs here »