Week 2: National Institute of Subzero Temperatures

Share This:

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Kelby Peterson

I tend to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie; rock climbing, mountain biking, sky diving, skiing, snowboard, scuba diving, long boarding, etc. I love it all. My first day at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was an adrenaline rush of a different nature. Starting the moment I got my visitor’s pass I was caught up in the excitement and complexities of government research science. My brain was a chaotic mess of neurons firing: faces, names, room numbers, passwords, building numbers, safety training, lab procedures, not to mention trying to understand the complexities of the project and the 10+ papers I was given to read- all of the utmost importance of course! To put it lightly, it was an overload of new information. I wish I could say my brain has processed it all now, but that’s not what I signed up for. I’m in for a summer of overloading myself with all the information I can gather, attempting to soak up as much as I can muster, and I’m excited about it.

The rest of the week was fantastic as well. I had the chance to get into the lab, dust off some of my old pipetting skills from high school, put on a lab coat, and attempt to remember what I learned in freshman biology and chemistry. It’s been a week of diving right into the thick of things, prepping samples, using a scanning electron microscope, calculating dilutions, and learning lab procedures. Every day I’ve been working with a new person, learning new concepts, performing new procedures; I can’t wait to see what next week brings.

Washington Post Hunt LogoSocializing with the other interns has been entertaining to say the least. We booked ourselves solid our first weekend here, and had a blast. Saturday morning was spent wandering one of the Smithsonian Art Museums and the afternoon was spent exploring the vast lands of Arlington National Cemetery. Sunday we got a couple teams together and competed with thousands of other people in the Washington Post’s Annual DC Post Hunt. The Post Hunt is a scavenger-like word puzzle hunt across downtown DC. So we spent our afternoon running around DC, learning the city, getting lost, and thinking really hard about the really weird things that were going on. Our evening was spent at Toni Sauncy, the SPS National Director’s house for a delicious BBQ.

Photo: Washington Post Hunt Logo

Every day this week has been a whirlwind of exciting stories and hilarious predicaments as we all settle in to our summer internships, and I doubt that will stop any time soon.


Kelby Peterson