Week 9: Crunch Time

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


Kelby Peterson

We interns had a great Sunday together. Ashley and I invited everyone over for a huge brunch meal. There was tons of food, talking, and good times. It was a great start to a hectic week. So as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, my project with the exfoliation sort of stagnated and I started work on a new project in the same field. Well after some consideration that new project is what we decided I should present on. If you look back, that means I have about 2 weeks of time since I started work on it and when I'll be presenting it. So this week was a crazy mix of trying to really dive in and understand the bigger picture of what I'm working on, hurry and do enough experiments to have some solid conclusions, process all that data, and put together my presentation. All of this in time for our practice presentations Thursday night.

With a lot of help and craziness I was able to pull it together. My mentor Joey Robertson was fantastic at explaining everything to me, at least twice, giving me resources and guidance through the whole thing, and even letting me take over his computer for almost 2 days to process all this data. Finally on the metro home Thursday night I had a complete presentation; I spent the ride trying to come up with what I was actually going to say for each slide. Then when I got home Toni Sauncy was great enough to come all the way down to Foggy Bottom, let us present for her, and gave us invaluable feedback before the big presentations Friday.

Presentation day was a lot of fun. We all got dressed up, had a fun breakfast together at the American Center for Physics, then sat down for the morning of presentations. It was a really great, supportive environment to be presenting in. If there was any tension at the beginning it was lost when the power went out in the middle of the first presentation. They were able to get it back on quickly and get us back on track, but it brought about some much needed perspective to have that bit of a reality check. I was second. Of course, being technology inept I first couldn't figure out the microphone, then I struggled with the laser pointer, but once I got rolling talking I was pleasantly surprised at myself.

The questions, the part I was most afraid of, were more gentle then expected, which was appreciated. The hardest one was when someone asked what the hardest part of this project was, but I decided to be blunt and honest- my severe lack of a background in anything biology or chemistry related. Luckily that brought a few laughs, and quicker than I knew I was done. It was great to hear no one could tell I'd only worked on it for 2 weeks, or had no background in the subject matter. The rest of the presentations flew by. Everyone did a fabulous job and seemed relieved to be done.

The weekend after presentations was a blast. Ashley and I took a detour through the Capital and explored the ins and outs that we may have missed on our previous tour. We then headed up and walked around Old Town Alexandria, explored art studios in the old Torpedo Factory, had a magnificent tour through the old Gadsby Tavern- complete with 10 year old experts on the culture and colonial dance lessons with folks in costume. Sunday Stephen, Ashley, and I got up extra early and headed to the National Zoo to be there for the animals' breakfast. It was fun to explore before the day got too hot and the hordes of tourists came in. Then all the interns gathered together to go out to brunch to celebrate the completion of presentations. We ended our weekend watching the original Exorcist in preparation for touring the filming locations in Georgetown this upcoming week.

I'm excited for this next week of wrapping up my project, hopefully finding a good resting point for it, packing up my things, and then heading home. This internship has been a wonderful experience, but I am more than ready to get out of this humidity, and jump into my senior year of physics courses back at Utah State.

Kelby Peterson