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2005 SPS National Interns
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Lindsay Windsor Lindsay Windsor
Cornell University, NY

Internship: National Institute of Science & Technology (NIST)
Online Journal
Final Impressions Week of July 15, 2006 Week of June 24, 2006
Week of July 29, 2006 Week of July 8, 2006 Week of June 17, 2006
Week of July 22, 2006 Week of July 1, 2006 Week of June 10, 2006
Final Impressions: December, 2005

Working at NIST this summer, I discovered that I really enjoyed doing research, much more than I thought I would. I quickly realized that I much prefer experimental rather than theoretical physics. Because I love to learn and be challenged, experimenting this summer allowed me to continually stretch myself in studying, learning, and discovering new things.

Moreover, working through SPS helped me realize how much of physics is people skills and public relations, from finding an advisor to leading a research group to presenting research to the public. I also found out that connections are really really important in the sciences. By living in DC with proximity to the governmental system of physics in politics, I also got a taste of science policy and the preparation needed for a career in that field.

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Week of July 29, 2005

One last time =)

Hello again, and welcome to Summer Adventures with Lindsay!

Wow – I can’t believe that today is my last day in DC. How shall I sum up my summer? These past eight weeks have flown by, but I’ve learned so much in such a short time. This internship gave me the chance to learn tons about conducting research, but also much more about DC and science policy. And the internship provided the opportunity to do research, but the people I worked with this summer at NIST were the ones who really made my first research experience so excellent. Many thanks are due =)

Presentations on Wednesday went quite well. They went much smoother than Tuesday’s practice, and Matt and I figured out how to link the presentations with Powerpoint to make it even more pretty =) I was really impressed with the improvements Bridger made to his presentation, and I thought his revisions helped make his presentation really excellent. My mom and brother came to watch everybody – I was proud to have them there, especially since my mom was so curious about everything and my 12-year-old brother asked some really good questions about the presentations. He’s a genius =) I also got to talk with some interesting people who came to watch us. I was mostly happy with my presentation, but I was a little frustrated that I had to make it more human and less technical in order to be interesting to the general audience. I’ve been so fascinated with the technicalities of the project all summer that that’s what I’m really excited about sharing – the new discoveries which do require some background knowledge to appreciate their newness and their coolness. Granted, it took me most of the summer to figure it all out, but I found that I enjoyed giving the presentations to the group (who knew all the science of my project probably better than I did) than I did the final presentation. But that being said, I did enjoy showing off a little bit of what I had done this summer, and it was fun to hear the other interns’ and to give a formal business presentation (and good practice for when I give the presentation again next spring!)

Today in the lab we’re running another temperature-dependent measurement – think: cryostat; lots of machines, tubes, & wires; billowing nitrogen, etc. =) This time it’s on the other polymer, and the results are pretty weird. I don’t think I’ll have enough time to analyze the data before I head out today (yep, today!), but perhaps later. Wenyong and I have plans to research the mechanisms behind the device behavior when I get back to Cornell and have access to the library. Then maybe we’ll know enough to write a truly insightful paper in addition to presenting our data & results.

My lessons from this summer are so many and so varied it’s hard to break them down, but here are several areas:

Academically I learned tons about chemistry. I learned about benzene rings and pi conjugation, and refreshed my memory on a lot of basic chem too. I learned more about how structure is related to function, and of course about organic conducting polymers. I figured out what nanotechnology is like in the real world – not like the self-replicating robot abstract idea, but what is being researched and used on such a small scale and what it’s good for.

In terms of research and research process, I learned about cleanrooms, about the steps in the process of designing and conducting and experiment, and about how to write a scientific paper. I learned too that labs have lots of fun, expensive toys to play with – and I learned how to use several of them. I experienced the joy of discovery and the frustration of finicky experiments. Wenyong taught me a lot about what it means to do research in graduate school, and I learned the crucial importance of finding a good advisor. Wenyong also taught me about the practical lifestyle difference between theorists and applied physicists, and I studied the options for my future both in science and in science policy.

I learned about people skills. At work, the group leader of our division was really effective, and watching his leadership style was interesting and helpful. I also found out that connections are really really important even in the sciences. I learned to listen more to the chatty people around me, and to be unafraid to pose deep personal questions to people I’ve only known for a few weeks (remember the 4 AM game of war, kids? =) )

At work, I learned what “business casual” means, and I learned that NIST is not. I learned how to give a Powerpoint presentation, and I experienced having a job that ends when I leave the workplace (unless there’s a presentation the next day!).

I learned about living in a city, taking the metro, and finding a grocery store. I experienced living in a city with four Starbucks within a four-block radius, and loved it. I found that Amtrack is not the best way to go from DC to Boston, but I learned how to take the train. I found out that the Washington Memorial actually is open, and that DC professional theatre and music is absolutely wonderful.

Personally I discovered that I really enjoyed doing research, much more than I thought I would. I was also reminded that I love to learn and love to be challenged, and quickly get bored if I’m not – which I think made those first few weeks of research all the more exciting because they were intense learning and challenging.

And finally, I realized that my worst fears can sometimes be part of the greatest benefits. My biggest fear coming here this summer was that I would be given something I had no experience with and would be expected to be competent in it. I had no experience with organic chemistry or semiconductor electronics before coming here, but needed to quickly gain a basic understanding of all the jargon and ideas that form the basis of this work. Though it was quite challenging, it wasn’t too much, and I found I really enjoyed the intense learning and studying.

Wenyong said yesterday that it’s when you’re stretched the most that you have the best time because you’re learning the most. I agree. It’s been a summer of being stretched, but in a new way, and I’m so glad I came. Many thanks to all of you who have made this possible!!!

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Week of July 22, 2005

Just to switch it up a little:

“An AABB Iambic Pentameter week” 
—by Lindsay Windsor
   Or, "Why I am not Shakespeare" =)

Last weekend I went on a long ride by train
To visit my family far far away
Well really not far – in New Hampshire, you see –
My aunt, cousins, grandmother, mom, sis, and me

On a lake in a cabin we lazed on Saturday
Spending the weekend in a most lovely way
Sailing and chatting, and enjoying the lake
Then back to work Monday – ‘twas a little hard to take

Yep, Monday was work day, back to computer and desk
Come Wednesday new challenges, new mountains to crest
At our group meeting another presentation I gave
Thirty-eight slides – twenty minutes – no way!

No really, that many, that time length, it’s true
I whizzed through them all and prepared for more too
Presentations galore this past week did bring
Group meeting and practice for the final meeting

Too much data! New stuff for the group on Wednesday
Still more for the final crowd – what should I say?
Some stories, some graphs, practice once and lots more
Remember, solely my data would be quite a bore

It’s fascinating to me, but ‘twould be a crime
To make my poor audience hit it all at one time
So add the tale of dropping temp. in the cryostat
Experiments are quirky – they can all relate to that

Tweak; practice; meantime, let’s have some more fun
A tour of the Pentagon and wars that we won
And a play called Crowns we went to go see
Thanks, Bridger and John =) …tweedle-ee-dee…

At NIST, we spent time with a Nobel Prize winner
Time, Einstein, and clocks he explained with great flair
Later we met with him as a small group apart
Dr. Phillips was chatty, engaging, so smart!

Friday we went to NIST’s nuclear building
Bridger and I joined the SURF kids in touring
I learned about how nuclear waste is produced
About collisions with neutrons, and radiation reduced

This weekend I got to relax for a little
The barbeque at Gary’s was delicious - it’s settled
To taste his great cooking, it was our chance;
And Saturday I caught up with a friend who’s in France

That night the group Capitol Steps made us laugh
I love political humor, their wit & fun craft
Then Sunday I met some good family friends
The Norquist family was so welcoming in inviting me in

Tonight I should run – tomorrow’s the big day
Final presentations will soon be on their way
The summer’s almost over; I can hardly believe
In just over a week I’ll be in Tel Aviv!

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Week of July 15, 2005

Top Ten Highlights of the week:

  1. My mom! She came to visit last weekend and we had a lovely time. We stayed late at work Friday finishing up the temperature-dependent measurements for the polypyrrole nanopores, and then drove to have an amazing, multi-course, leisurely dinner at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant just off Dupont Circle. Catching up with her was lovely. Side note: the hour-and-a-half commute is 35 minutes by car w/no traffic!
  2. Visiting the National Cathedral—my mom and I went there Saturday, and I went back Sunday for Evensong (which turned out to be a memorial service for the Londoners). The Cathedral building is really beautiful, and the stained-glass windows exquisite. The church encouraged personal reflection and worship, and reminded me of the power of faith to inspire people towards serving the greater good of our nation.
  3. Bookstore browsing with Morgan and Rebecca Tuesday night—I love bookstores, and the Barnes and Noble we found just outside of Metro Center was amazing. The three of us happily pored over books for a few hours until closing.
  4. Chatting with the other SURF interns—we don't usually have many occasions to mingle with the other interns here at NIST, but this week I did get to chat with them a bit. We figured out that the interns worked with some of my classmates, and that one of them worked closely with one of last year's SPS interns, also a classmate of Matt's. It s a small world after all .
  5. Spinning polyaniline—I helped Wenyong spin our first chemical, polypyrrole, onto the wafers last time, but this time I got to spin the polyaniline on my own. It took me one mistake to get it right, but now I have the process down pat. Today we're evaporating gold onto the sample (again like last time), and tomorrow we'll take measurements of those devices too. Call me a nerd, but I'm really curious to see the behavior of this new molecule!
  6. Data analysis—We have so much data that analyzing it all is a lot of work, but also rewarding to discover trends that fit with theoretical models. We've found some patterns and repeatable behavior, and I've organized the information on one loooooong 26-slide powerpoint presentation. (I will have much editing to do for the presentation at the end of the summer nobody wants to hear me talk that long!) =) We're still working on the story to make sense of the data.
  7. Yesterday's firedrill with highlight applied very loosely in the unordinary event sense. It was more than a drill, really. A third floor resident had left plastic containers in the oven and then someone else unknowingly turned the oven on; hence, lots of smoke but few to no flames or damage. We did get two fire trucks and the whole street blocked off, and had a little picnic on the sidewalk across the street as the firemen went racing up the stairs to put nothing out. It was fun to watch all the commotion (which Mika documented very carefully on her camera) and Rebecca s excitement, since this is her first time living in a dorm.
  8. Reading more scientific papers—I've been learning about hopping conduction to better understand some of the terms that get thrown around in the lab and in the related papers I'm reading. I have a mini-glossary for myself of all the vocab I have been needing to know: polarons, phonons, variable-range hopping, etc. It's practically a different language, but I'm understanding more and more of it.
  9. Reading Tel Aviv U's course catalog for the fall—okay so it's totally unrelated to my summer job, but they just determined their fall courses and I was thrilled to see it. They all sound fascinating and I don't know how I'm going to take only five classes. But it has also occurred to me that I will miss math and physics next semester more than I originally thought, so I'm happy to have a science-intense summer to compensate =)
  10. Hopping on a train for a family reunion this hasn't happened yet but it will soon =) I'm going to MA (and from there to NH) to visit my extended family for the weekend. I haven't seen them in too long, so I'm excited to catch up with them too.

Happy (almost) weekend & Shabbat Shalom,
Lindsay

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Week of July 8, 2005
Hello there,

I greet you once again from billows of liquid nitrogen =) Both last Friday and today I've been running the temperature-dependent measurements for my device. We're getting tons and tons of data, and then the next few weeks will be spent "creating a story" to make sense of it all. Wednesday I gave my second presentation of the summer. I spent Tuesday drawing up data tables, making pretty graphs, analyzing data, and sticking the analysis into a Powerpoint presentation; then all evening Tuesday I spent making it look cohesive, professional, and color-coordinated. So much work, but really rewarding to have a finished, quality presentation that I can be proud of.

So when I'm not playing with liquid nitrogen at work, I'm usually making sure Bridger doesn't get lost on our daily commute - although I did totally drop the ball yesterday when we missed our metro stop (but I did catch it, just one stop too late!). And when I'm not making sure Bridger stays out of trouble, I'm having fun interchanging the tourist/tour guide hats on the weekends. Being the Fourth of July weekend in the Capitol, the long weekend was naturally full to the brim with festivities. I saw Arlington Cemetery, which I vaguely remembered from a childhood visit but hadn't seen for years, and of course the Changing of the Guard. 'Twas all very precise and rigid: step step step step pivot turn click heels pivot click heels lift-turn-shift-gun step step step click. And so forth. I wonder how such discipline really adds to honoring the dead. It was interesting to watch, anyway, but my favorite part of the Cemetery was the top of the hill from which you could see most
of DC =)

Speaking of seeing most of the city, there is also a lovely view from the top of the Washington Monument! I had heard that it was closed indefinitely, but we found that if you're willing to wake up at the crack of dawn, then you can stand in line to get tickets for later that day. Morgan and her father and boyfriend were kind enough to get there extra early, and I joined them as soon as I could wrench myself out of bed. I think it was worth the early morning, though, as the view from the top was amazing.

And of course, when in the Capitol for the Fourth, one must enjoy as much free entertainment as possible! Monday's parade was really long but had many interesting costumes and good bands and dancers. Bridger, Matt, and I went to the dress rehearsal of the Capitol Fourth concert (which is an annual Independence Day concert) and debated the authenticity of the Beach Boys (who ended up being only the Backstage Boys - it was a dress rehearsal, after all), sang "God Bless America" with an alum of the Irish Tenors, and oohed and aahed over the cannons in the War of 1812 Overture. Monday morning I woke up early for a quick run before the parade, but note to self: never again go running hours before huge public events in the Capitol. My twenty-minute jog turned into an hours long run when bridges, streets, and memorials were all closed for security sweeps. Getting home seemed impossible for a while (even according to the policemen I asked for better directions), but with a little perseverance I made it. Good exercise, right? =)

We completed the holiday patriotism by camping out all afternoon of the Fourth on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial to get the best view ever of the fireworks. We didn't actually need to get there that early, but it was lovely to sit and read by the Tidal Pool on such a nice day, and our seats really were incredible for seeing the fireworks. Mika was on a mission, along with Matt, to distribute diffraction glasses and Einstein stickers to every kid in the place, and their "oh cool!"'s were totally precious.

And today my mommy's coming to visit =) I'm excited to show her around work a bit and hang out this weekend.

Until next week,
Lindsay

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Week of July 1, 2005

Hello again!

First, I sincerely apologize for my seeming total negligence of proper English grammar in my previous entry. Somehow somewhere in between my typing and submitting the entry, the computer lost half my punctuation, resulting in atrocious run-on sentences and fragments. I may not be an English major, but I do know how to write a sentence and spell words like "blame" ;)

This week at work has been rather eventful. Monday I took measurements for the nanopore devices we made, and Wednesday I learned how to dice the silicon wafer which holds all the tiny devices into pieces. We attached two working devices to a different conglomeration of wires and posts and sensors in order to do temperature-dependent measurements today, Friday. These measurements are fun - they involve lots of billowing liquid nitrogen and hanging out as the sample slowly cools. We're going for a cooling rate of 30 degrees an hour, all the way to 70 K or so, and taking data every ten degrees. Thus I can multitask and keep one eye on the temperature gauge as I write =)

Yesterday was also a big day at work, though I didn't do much research. Instead, Bridger and I showed off the NIST campus to our fellow AIP interns. We heard Eric Vogel, our group leader, speak in the morning on the future of the semiconductor industry. Afterwards, we ate lunch with him and then I showed the group the lab I work in. Bridger gave a presentation on his project, and we all trekked to the library and museum here. There we had a lovely tour by a scientist who works here named Dr. Rohnert. In addition to knowing lots of random cool facts about the museum and its exhibits, he was the project director for redesigning the cases that hold the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. There was an entire exhibit on that project, and he explained many scientific details of the case, as well as how they had to incorporate artistic effect to their conservation design. I really appreciated his knowledge and expertise - he was really interesting to listen to.

Then we rushed off to meet the group leader again to hear an overview of NIST and tour the new cleanroom! I was impressed with all the areas of science and standards with which NIST is involved. For example, one of the big news items around here (which Dr. Rohnert worked on too) is the very recent press release of the building structure report for the World Trade Center. They have a pile of the WTC steel beams sitting outside one of the buildings here, and the project was to figure out why the building fell and what could be done to prevent so many casualties in a future huge accident like that. From building analysis to nanoscale semiconductors to conserving the Declaration, NIST gets to do plenty of interesting things =)

But I digress. Though Bridger and I had walked around the outside of the cleanroom last week, this week's tour was cool because we got to get halfway gowned up, go inside and peek around a little more. This place is classy, huge, and very white. Eric also took us to the building below ground level that contains labs where the environment is the most stable in the world in terms of vibration, temperature, and several other parameters.

From there, we waltzed off to meet with Gail Porter, who directs the Public and Business Affairs Office for NIST. (The process of arranging this meeting was a little complicated but quite fun - I got to meet NIST's Chief of Staff and some of the other head officers along the way =) ). She gave an informative tour on the main exhibits in the Admin. building, focusing mostly on how NIST is involved in the real world and how their standards, processes, and technology are really fundamental for so much of modern industry and commerce.

After the tour I ran back to the lab. Wenyong had planned to take a lot of measurements yesterday, and I wanted to be there for as much as I could. However, the program wasn't working properly, so he wrote a new program and we're taking data today. I was relieved not to have missed much, and I got to relax and chat for a little bit with Wenyong and his supervisor, Curt, before heading home. Playing tour guide is fun but quite tiring =)

You needn't worry that my summer is all work and no play, though - we do manage to entertain ourselves quite well outside of work. Last weekend's Gershwin and Bernstein concert was absolutely wonderful, and inspired us to go home and watch West Side Story. Saturday night Bridger and I saw an Oscar Wilde play called Lady Windermere's Fan, a play whence cometh such famous quotes as, "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." It's written about 19th-century English society but had plenty of witty, timeless social commentary, and makes for quite a lovely evening. With more swing dancing, Sunday night dinner together with all the interns, a little stroll around DuPont Circle, and the discovery of a real grocery store open 24 hours, I'm enjoying the city, the culture, and the company =)

This week I've also been thinking about all the pros and cons of going to a large research university. I go to a school which has state-of-the-art laboratories, professors whose research gets published on the front pages of magazines like Physics Today or Nature, incredible funding, and outstanding capabilities. I also go to a school where the professors aren't there to teach and where it's easy to overlook all these possibilities and get lost in the crowd. I've been inspired this summer to go back to college and take advantage of all the resources at school - especially the labs and the connections I have here to the outstanding researchers there - and I've also been inspired to see how I can search out the encouragement and investment of our faculty as support for wherever I head next in my academic or professional life.

Whew, well I think that's enough for one week. Besides, we're down to 203 K and it's time to start making some pretty graphs =)

Until next week,
Lindsay

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Week of June 24, 2005

This week I'll go by the days only in Hebrew! Yep, in addition to all the information I'm soaking up at my job, I'm also working on memorizing lists of Hebrew vocab in preparation for my trip in (gasp) only a few more weeks. Ready? Lechoo (let s go)!

Yom rishon—Sunday morning (after a verrrry late night Saturday, with lots of card playing and good conversations), I went to my third church in DC, and met some really cool young-adult types with big hearts for social justice. Very cool. After a much needed nap, we five interns happily greeted Rebecca, the newbie, and cooked our second weekly Sunday night dinner, followed by an intense, painful, but totally rockin game of Spoons.

Yom Shenee—With Monday came proof in two forms that my job is awesome. I get to take cool measurements with fun toys, and the subject is so interesting that I started reading a textbook in my free time—who would have thought? I had a brilliant insight over the weekend that Mika s old chem textbook was still sitting around her dorm, and it could be exactly what I needed to clear up a bunch of lingering questions for me before I gave a presentation for the NIST group on Wednesday. Mika generously donated to my cause (more happy to get rid of it than anything else, I think), and I proceeded to read the entire textbook Monday and Tuesday. Much of the book was physics I already knew or chemistry I recognized from high school, but the new information was EXACTLY what I needed to know and hence fascinating to study. But all of this was to understand what I was doing in Proof #1 of the awesomeness of my job: finally taking measurements on the device we fabricated! The results seemed to show a new discovery about the polymer we tested. In Morgan's words to me later that night, You're a real scientist!

Yom Shleeshee—I sat in the lab all day Tuesday, taking data from the sample I started testing the day before. I found lots of cool trends in the data, but about 3 PM my supervisor, Wenyong, came rushing in to tell me that something was wrong with the sample. It turns out that what I thought I was measuring wasn't what I wanted to be measuring at all (though it might work out still we have yet to see on that one). So I think much of the data I took is irrelevant to our study. Also, we found some scientific papers that had already studied the phenomena we were looking at (though our process is still unique enough to give some good paper-worthy results). I was really disappointed, but we still had some time before I needed to catch the last bus out of work, so we switched techniques and got some real relevant data with the same device. A couple quick measurements, transforming lists of data into graphs, and a couple PowerPoint slides later, and I was off to catch the bus, eat dinner, chat with my roomie, and head to bed.

Yom Revee ee—Presentation day! My first business presentation went quite well. By Wednesday morning, I had finally answered many of my own questions about the terminology of what I was talking about, and felt much more comfortable explaining the process and the setup of the experiment, as well as the recent preliminary results and short-term goals. The few questions I got I mostly knew how to answer, and the group leader, Eric Vogel, was impressed with the work Bridger and I had done. Whew! Eric actually ended up joining Bridger and me for lunch a little bit after the meeting, and it was an awesome opportunity to talk with him. Bridger had to leave shortly, but I got to hear a lot about his work, his family, and how he got into physics, and it was fun to share a little bit of my world and my interest in physics too. I was happy to have a more personal contact with the boss.

The afternoon was relaxed I read several papers relating to the conductivity of my organic polymers, and then studied for and took the safety examination in order to use the cleanroom downstairs. Major take-home point from the test: Don t mess with HF. It s dangerous - just don t do it. Also, all the dressing up to go into the cleanroom (called gowning ) is not to protect you; it s to protect the experiment from you. Good to know.

Yom Chameeshee—Because the equipment for taking new data was in use, we used Thursday to prepare a different sample for measurement. Having learned my way around the cleanroom (in theory, anyway, for the exam), it was interesting to go back to spin polymer and use the evaporator and UV oxide cleaner again. This time, I knew what the instruments were for, what I was doing and why, and could notice all the tubs of HF sitting around on the counters nearby. I also discovered that one of the chemicals I ordered was supposed to appear at the airport at 3 PM that day, but the company had neglected to inform me that I was responsible for going to pick it up. Hence, Friday morning s errand I would much rather be taking measurements, but there was no way to get around it.

Yom Sheeshee—Happy end of week three! It s flown by so fast. I was sad to miss out on the AIP picnic today, but after a slow start I finally did have a chance to get some good data at work this afternoon. Also, this morning we had an orientation for the cleanroom, which mostly consisted of HF safety, but at the end we got to walk around the new multimillion-dollar cleanroom. It looks pretty sophisticated and there's a chance it'll be done in time for us to use it later this summer. Tonight's outing is to bask in Gershwin and Bernstein, as performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. I love culture =)

Yom Shabbat—It is yet to be seen what my Day of Rest will entail, but I do forsee a Starbucks, some sleep, perhaps another game of spoons, and a good bit of exploring the city in my future.

Lecheetrahot (catch you later).

Lindsay

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Week of June 17, 2005

June 14 | June 17

June 14, 2005
My group's website! =)

http://www.eeel.nist.gov/812/group06.html

Technically I work under Curt Richter's project (if you go to that page, then listed is Wenyong Wang, my direct supervisor), but the experiment I'm working on is directly related to Dr. Suehle's research.

The CMOS and Novel Devices group (that's my group!) is a subset of NIST's Semiconductor Electronics Division (SED), which is a subset of the Electronics and Electrical Engineering Laboratory (EEEL), which is a subset of NIST.

Also, if you're interested in something with a little more English and a little less jargon, check out the history of the Institute:

http://www.100.nist.gov/

Challenge of the day: The pillars marking the entrance to our group of buildings say National Bureau of Standards. How old could they be? =)


June 17, 2005
Welcome to week two, all!

This was quite the week at work. My supervisor gave me the assignment of becoming an expert on the chemicals we're testing by the time we present
the experiment next Wednesday. I realized that from the few days of working on the project already, I knew more than anyone else on the floor
about the polymers - but it still wasn't much. From crazy mix-ups in ordering different versions of the chemical, to desperate searches to interpret what pi-conjugation and thermopower are, to remembering the difference between oxidative and reductive reactions - it's a little intense, but I am learning so much. Already I can look back at the work I did a week ago and see how far I've come in knowledge and understanding - it's exciting.

Outside of work this week, we were quite busy gallivanting around the city. Wednesday I went swing dancing - yay =) Thursday we got up way too early and went to Senator Feinstein's constituent breakfast. I think it was a little disappointing for all of us, as it was far less intimate than we had expected (~200 people) and she was significantly less impressive than we had hoped. Then we went to a Senate hearing on nuclear waste, which I only understood bits and pieces of, but it was really fascinating to talk with the other interns later (who had picked up more info from advisors who knew Washington a little bit better). I did end up getting a lot out of the hearing, and I'm glad I went. The five of us have resolved to get in touch with every Senator and Representative for whom we can claim constituency in hopes of finding someone really intelligent, interesting, capable, and accessible. We'll see how it goes.

Highlights of the week:

  • continued crash course in orgo
  • determined physical and chemical characteristics of polymers in my experiment
  • learned to use NIST's library
  • senator breakfast and senate hearing
  • practiced taking measurements on sample mechanism
  • formulated mechanism for experiment - finally! - and in the process got to visit NIST's clean room
  • prepared presentation for group meeting next week
  • just chilled: swing & salsa danced, watched West Wing, played cards, and hung out with the other interns

Until next week =)
Lindsay

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Week of June 10, 2005

Hello there!

Welcome to Lindsay's first week living in DC. It's been quite the whirlwind of adjusting to living in the city, taking the Metro, meeting lots of wonderful people, starting a new job, taking semi-crash courses in lab work and organic chemistry, and hanging out with new friends.

I love DC - it's a wonderful city with so many important people working in important buildings and doing so many important things. I love the convenience of being downtown and within walking distance of a plethora of stores, restaurants, the metro, theatres, etc. - quite disparate from Ithaca! And how weird is it to walk home and pass the White House?! At the same time, it seems a little paradoxical, as DC still has the same problems of poverty and homelessness as any other big city. The juxtaposition of the lavish expensive stores in Georgetown with a man begging for food on the street, or the Senators driving by in their Lincolns just a few blocks from the Projects - it makes me wonder how such different groups of people can live side-by-side and seem to interact so little.

Anyway, I'll get down off my soapbox - I really am having a great time here. And the people that I have met are indeed fascinating. I've met a lot of the folks who work at the American Institute of Physics, and I hope to get to talk more with them later about the policy side of science in DC. Here at NIST I've mostly just interacted with the people in my group but next week I plan on hunting down the Director and introducing myself.

My group's project is so so fun. I'm researching the conductivity of organic polymers on the nanoscale. I didn't realize I would enjoy the research this much. I spent a lot of time researching the materials I would need for the actual project, and in the process learned a ton about organic materials. (Who knew I would need orgo? I wish I had paid more attention when my roommate took it last semester.) The online research to order the materials got tedious, but today I got to play with the lab equipment for the first time. It's really expensive and pretty technical stuff, but I got it to work quite well and had a huge sense of accomplishment =) I've always thought that life in a lab would be so removed from humanity that it wouldn't be terribly interesting, but I'm surprised by how much it excites me and captures my interest. I can't wait to see the results of the experiment - and even if nothing terribly exciting happens, the process will still be interesting and worthwhile.

Our commute to work is about an hour and a half - I work with Bridger at NIST, and the other interns are over at AIP. It's a little long, but it's good time to do reading for the project I'm working on or pleasure reading or thinking or chatting - or some combination of all of them. And my supervisor, Wenyong, is really understanding about the variable bus schedule and the commute, and all the supervisors and staff are really good at encouraging us to get out and see the city while we have the chance.

So far, Bridger and I got to see a little bit of the Natural History Museum and the National Archives. Having seen bits and pieces of most of them, I'm excited to discover the rest of the city too - I want to go figure out the Library of Congress and the swing dancing clubs here and all the important buildings I can get into with my magic NIST badge =) And I'm especially looking forward to hanging out with the other interns and discovering the city together.

Summary of the week

  • researched and ordered organic material needed for project
  • researched where to obtain other material possibly needed for project
  • orientated myself with the basic structure of AIP on Monday
  • learned and understood basic project outline, background, purpose, and applications
  • discovered where to shop, bank, eat, do laundry, etc., as well as how to get around in DC
  • got to know my immediate coworkers

Until next week =)
Lindsay


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