Mavs’ Tips and Tricks with Google Calendar

Hello everyone! Happy Valentine’s Day!

For today’s post, I want to share with you some of Google Calendar’s tips and tricks that I have found helpful in graduate school. I am now in my third year in my Ph.D. program and I have finished my required classes. I am also working as a research assistant.  That means LOTS OF UNSTRUCTURED TIME! Now, for some people having unstructured time means having a lot of free time… But for me having a lot of unstructured time is dangerous — because there are days when I would rather watch the latest Korean drama than work on my research. So how do I deal with it? Let me show you the ways…

1. Use Google calendar.

I love my Google calendar. I am super dependent on it – I have it on my phone and it is the first thing I access when I get in the office. I have also configured it to send me an e-mail every day at 5 am to inform me about everything I need to do. Here’s a screenshot on how to configure the settings to get it to send you email notifications. (The settings shows up when you click the gear icon near the upper right corner)

2. Have multiple calendars and color code them. 

I have multiple calendars but I make sure that I see all of it in its entirety. Now you may wonder, why multiple calendars? I have calendars I share with research group members for projects and  I would only want to share relevant information ((You wouldn’t want your project members to know that you have a dentist appointment when it doesn’t concern them!)).

Keeping multiple calendars – and a separate one for my personal needs (sleeping, exercise) also ensures that I actually get some shut eye. One of my resolutions this year is to sleep better because it makes me a more functional person, a better grad student and a happier person in general.

Now, what’s with the color coding? Color coding also helps you track your time. I found tracking how much time I spend on projects keeps me accountable and helps me make better-informed decisions on how I spend my time. Supposing, I have 10 hours to spend on Project X, and 5 hours on Project Y and found myself needing more hours on Project Y because Task 1 took much longer, I can readjust my time based on what I may have done in the past.

Here’s a screenshot of what my work week looks like this week.

3. Mark milestones on the calendar. 

This year I wanted to be more strategic on how I spend my time on projects. I am attending multiple conferences and if I am not mindful the deadline just creeps in without me knowing. So I decided to plan my semester. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely check out NCFDD’s Every Semester Needs a Plan https://www.facultydiversity.org/webinars/semesterplan18 and Aligning Your Priorities https://www.facultydiversity.org/webinars/18sundaymeet webinar. The site requires you to register but the webinars are extremely helpful in helping you break down big goals into smaller tasks and making time for them! I highly recommend them.

Anyway, I mark milestones in my calendar to let me know that by some time period I should have finished Project X’s section three.  You can set it up by adding all-day events. Here’s what it looks like:

I also use the milestone function to inform me of bills, conferences, big events I need to be mindful of.

4. Use the hyperlink to keep track of written documents.

One trick I have found very useful – especially if you use Google Drive to share documents with team members is to use the hyperlinks to inform members of any changes you have made on a written document. I also make a short note to inform them what I have done for that particular time period. It is a great accountability tool and you can see the status of the project.

Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like:

5. Use the task function.

I use the task function for things that do not require more than 15 minutes of my time or things I just need to remember (e.g. Return Yan’s bowl from the dinner party). I also use it to remind me of where I parked my car (I developed a coding scheme to inform me of which floor and which row I parked my car in Grant Street Parking Garage).

6. Have a Friday meeting.

I usually reflect and populate my calendar for the upcoming week before I leave work on Friday.  I spend about 30 minutes going through the process of listing down everything I need to do the following week (readings, writing I need to work on, etc) and then populating my calendar. Having a plan before my new week starts helps me prime myself for the next work week ahead. And oh, I consciously take a day off each week – to run errands, to recuperate, and to rest. Taking a break is good for one’s soul. Because I have a plan made on Friday, by Monday, when I pick up my work I know exactly what I need to do.

7. Be flexible.

One thing I had to wrap my head around is the idea that YOU WILL NEVER finish all the things you want to do and you have to be flexible in how to manage your time. There would be days when I swap one scheduled task for another – that’s okay, if it makes more sense, then why not? You also have to realize that for some tasks you will encounter technical difficulties (e.g., the task you scheduled was dependent on something else, you don’t have the appropriate tools for the scheduled task), psychological blocks (e.g. you find yourself dealing with debilitating anxiety) and external realities (e.g. you need to rush to the emergency room, etc). It’s okay, you don’t need to beat yourself up for it. You acknowledge the challenges and find ways to deal with them. Also, some times you need to be creative with how you use your time… I would walk on the treadmill as I finish my readings – I get my exercise and my reading done.

I hope the things I shared with you helps you somehow… The key is to find what works for you. 🙂

 

The winnings!

Great Experience at the Rice Business Plan Competition

A visiting scholar from National Taiwan University came to Purdue in 2014. He was interested in participating Rice Business Plan Competition. After hanging out several times, he thought I was the right person and invited me to join his business team. Since I was also the alumnus of National Taiwan University (same major as well) and it would be a great opportunity and experience for me to do something new, I accepted the challenge and joined the team.

The Rice Business Plan Competition, hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University, is the world’s richest and largest graduate-level student startup competition. The competition is designed to give collegiate entrepreneurs a real-world experience to fine tune their business plans and elevator pitches to generate funding to successfully commercialize their product. Judges will evaluate the teams as real-world entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges are asked to rank the presentations based on which company they would most likely invest. The goal of the RBPC is to provide the best overall educational and entrepreneurial experience of any business plan competition.

In 2014, there were more than 600 teams around the world submitting their applications and only 42 teams each year would be selected to the competition. The first day was practice round and elevator pitch competition. The second day was first round and feedback session. The last day was semi-finals and Finals. In first round, 42 teams were divided into seven flights. The first and second place teams of the First Round and the highest scoring third place team overall advanced to the Semi-Finals (which means 15 teams total). 15 teams are divided into 3 flights. The first and second place winners of the semi-finals advanced to the Finals.

Our team, EcoBreeze, a company based on researching and commercializing innovative, powerful and green cooling technology for customers in LED field, was selected to the competition.

When the competition came, I was excited and nervous. The elevator pitch kicked off the competition. In the elevator pitch competition, each team took turns and gave one-minute speech in front of around 300 people in the auditorium. Some teams were very experienced with their vocal variety and gestures. The presenter just two before my turn was too nervous to speak, so he stared into space and sadly stepped down from the lectern after a pin-drop silence one minute. This made me more nervous. I never did elevator pitch nor spoke in front of so many people on stage. Everyone looked at me seriously. When in my turn, I took a deep breath and then walked to the lectern. Let’s take a look my elevator pitch debut. I knew I could do better now but it was a great try, isn’t it?

 

Later on, we had the practice round. We received very important and great feedback from the judges and then modified our slides and talk. It helped a lot. Our first round went very well and we advanced to the semi-finals smoothly.

Advance to semi-final!
Advance to semi-final!

In other words, I was disqualified to visit Rice University and other attractions in Huston the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The semi-final was in the early morning and I almost stayed up for rehearsing. In the semi-final, the judges asked a lot of tuff questions and out team did not respond that well. Therefore, I did not expect to advance to the finals. At lunch time, the host announced the finalists. Our team’s name was on the board!!

In the Final
We are in Final!

We advanced to the finals and would be interviewed by Fortune magazine! My tears were rolling down my cheeks BUT I had to hold back my tears to give a professional speech in the finals in an hour. The finals were in the auditorium containing more than 500 audiences and judges. I told myself that it would be the last speech. Keep calm. I was the BEST! There would be nothing impossible.

Group photo
Interviewed by Fortune Magazine

 

Our team did a great job in the final presentation and Q&A including showing the real devices and the ideas. All the guests gave big applauses at the end of the presentation. After the presentation, I walked out of the auditorium. I cried again since I made it and all the pressures were released.

Presentation room 1 Presentation room 3 Presentation room 2

 

 

Photo with President of Rice University

At the awards banquet, our team won 3rd place with $7500 cash award! WOW! What an unforgettable experience!

Throughout this business plan competition, I met many elite students and venture capitalists. They shared their valuable experiences and stories. Also, I had some ideas and knowledge of business model and how to run the business. These great experiences are much more than $7500. I truly thanked for my teammates for inviting me to the business team.

Wilmeth Active Learning Center

Great study spots on Purdue’s campus

With over 40,000 students on campus, Purdue University offers a large number of options for study locations. Perhaps you’ve been to the library, or tend to study in the graduate student lounge in your department. Personally, I tend to lock myself in my office, but every once in a while, I like to change the scenery and get my work done in a new place.
 
If you’d like to change your routine or simply explore what Purdue has to offer, here are two great locations for studying (and snacking) on campus.
 

cappuccino

Marriott Hall is a luminous building with large windows, tall ceilings, an outdoor patio and an Italian coffee and gelato shop. The environment on the main floor is warm and welcoming, and if you don’t mind a little noise, it is a wonderful option for some afternoon reading or grading. Grab a hot drink from LavAzza Espression and find a seat at the tall tables by the windows, or venture off to the 2nd floor to relax on the couches and get caught up on your work.
 
 
Marriott
 
 
The Wilmeth Active Learning Center opened on August 7th 2017, and is a student-centered facility, offering a wide variety of Sandwich study spaces and classrooms specially designed for active learning. Head over to the Reading Room for a wonderful view of Purdue’s clock tower, or find a cozy chair on the main floor overlooking the pedestrian walkway. There are plenty of options for quiet spaces or areas buzzing with noise, if you prefer. In case you get hungry, Au Bon Pain offers fresh food choices such as baked goods, salads, sandwiches, pre-made salads, wraps and yogurt parfaits.
 
Enjoy Purdue and happy studying!
Forecast

Getting used to the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion (°F to °C)

Temperature

Unless you are from the Bahamas, Belize, or the Cayman Islands, you are likely encountering the Fahrenheit scale in the United States for the first time as an international student. The name of the scale itself is difficult to spell, but what’s even harder is getting used to the conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
 
In late August, at the beginning of the Fall semester at Purdue, the historical average temperature in West Lafayette is as high as 83° F. But how hot is that and how does it compare to the temperature back in your home country? Here are some tricks and tips to understand and convert Fahrenheit to Celsius as you get adjusted to life in the United States.
 
According to an article in ThoughtCo posted earlier this year, the temperature conversion is easy to do:
  1. Take the °F temperature and subtract 32.
  2. Multiply this number by 5.
  3. Divide this number by 9 to obtain your answer in °C.

So, if you want to know the typical temperature in West Lafayette at the end of August, take 83, subtract 32, and you get 51. Then, multiply 51 by 5, and you get 255. Don’t forget to divide 255 by 9, and you get 28.3 °C.

Another easy trick is to simply go to Google, and type 83 fahrenheit in celsius in the search bar, and hit enter. You will get the temperature converted for you in Celsius, 28.3 °C as shown in the screenshot below.

 
You could also check your application and computer settings, as often the conversion can be done automatically for you. For example, if you search for West Lafayette weather on Google, you have the option of clicking on the °F or °C, and Google will do the conversion for you right away. See the °C | °F next to the number, and click on the one you prefer.
 
Weather West Lafayette
 
Lastly, there are plenty of conversion charts available online to help you better understand the conversion between the scales! Take a look at this one posted on Rapid Tables.
 
Good luck! 🙂
Link
Attending the American Society of bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) annual meeting 2017 in Denver

What I learned from attending academic conferences

Me with my advisor and my lab mate at the American Society of Nutrition meeting 2017 in Chicago.
Me with my advisor and my labmate at the American Society of Nutrition meeting 2017 in Chicago.

Most of us who pursue a graduate level degree know that attending an academic conference is a worthwhile opportunity. Why? An obvious reason is we get to learn new knowledge in the field. From my experience, going to conferences benefits me far beyond this answer.

I do believe that attending a conference provides an excellent platform for professional development. First and for most, it allows us to put ourselves out there and present interesting findings from our research. This can lead to further thought-provoking discussion among us and other scientists in the field. Most of the time, we think and work on our own and it is always productive to have someone with fresh eyes critically share their thoughts on our work as well as what we could do to improve it. In some case, we might interact with someone who is working on a specific area that complements our work. In that case, the discussion can lead to potential future collaborations.

As a young scientist, I found both oral and poster presentation to be very challenging in different ways. An oral presentation is usually 12 minutes long. You have a 10-minute period to tell your story and another 2 minutes to answer questions from the audience.

Giving an oral presentation at the American Society of Nutrition meeting 2017
Giving an oral presentation in the Gene-Diet Interaction Research Interest Group session at the American Society of Nutrition meeting 2017

From my experience, you can excel the presentation part by practicing and putting a lot of thoughts on the flow of the presentation and limit the contents to where your target audience can follow easily in 10 minutes. Knowing your audience is always the most important key to success in a presentation. This is because you would cater the information, details to be included and words you use to suit your audience.

Presentation of my first research project on the impact of dietary calcium and genetics on 3D structure of femoral bone and lumbar spine.
Poster presentation of my first research project on the impact of dietary calcium and genetics on the 3D structure of femoral bone and lumbar spine.

The more difficult part for me is when you need to respond to questions from the audience. Given that I am already nervous to speak in public, I need to think on my feet in order to provide a sound answer to a question which I might not have thought about before. It is definitely challenging, yet helpful for developing my skills in communicating science. And remember, to master a skill, you need to keep practicing it. You might fail many times before you start to feel like you are getting better, BUT that’s a required step of growth 🙂

Apart from the opportunity to present your research, you would get to expand your circle of people who work in the same field and have similar research interests as you. As you can imagine, this is very useful and necessary especially when you are graduating and hoping to secure a job in the near future. Many people, myself included, dread the idea of networking. However, if you see it as an opportunity to getting better at networking (again practice makes perfect!) and you have nothing lose (since you might meet that person only that one time anyway lol). This helps put you in a productive mindset and might boost your confidence to go for it.

Attending Nutrigenomics Workshop at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2016.
Attending Nutrigenomics Workshop at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2016.

Also, networking can be very fruitful at times. Many times I heard stories of people who got their job because a friend of their colleague knew someone that can link that person to his or her future boss. Therefore, it is worth keeping your eyes opened and get to know new people. A couple of times I have met people who have become my good friends until now.

Another thing I appreciated from my experiences going to scientific meetings is I get to learn about a life story of thought leaders in my research area or their path to becoming a great scientist. I found this to be very inspiring and encouraging. Working in research requires a perseverance both mentally and physically. Therefore, it is very easy to fall for failures or failed experiments and feel bad for yourself in the course of Ph.D. study. Hearing how senior successful scientists overcome these challenges and thrive in this type of environment definitely help open my perspective and encourage me to keep working hard and determine to my goal rather than focusing on small setbacks that we inevitably cannot avoid.

Reunited with a friend from my Master's program.
Reunited with a friend from my Master’s program.

In addition to all the skills I earned from attending conferences, it is an opportunity for me to apply for financial support. Most research societies provide a travel grant for graduate students who have outstanding research work to present their work at the meeting. Applying for this type of sponsorship not only will you receive monetary support to attend a meeting, but also get a recognition for your research work which subsequently would enhance your profile in the long run. Besides an external support from meeting organization, I sometimes apply for a financial support from my college. Given that you presenting your work which has been conducted on campus, you help publicize the research quality at your university at the same time. Therefore, you are likely to get a fund from your university to go to a meeting.

Lastly, I enjoyed traveling to a new city as a way to broaden my horizons. Besides that, I get to meet new people as well as reunite with my old friends/colleagues. So I always have a wonderful experience attending a meeting both for my professional development and for my personal fulfillment.

 

 

Purdue Sign

India >>>>> Indiana – What Brought Me Here

India >>>>> Indiana – What Brought Me Here

In this post, I would like to talk about my field of study. I am a doctoral student in Learning Design and Technology or LDT, which is known as instructional design in some universities. I want to discuss what attracted me to this field and brought me here, all the way from India.

I wish to describe myself as an avid learner and a passionate educator. My work experience spans different career paths. I have worked as an electronics engineer, as a faculty in a computer hardware training institute, as a STEM subject teacher, University lecturer in a business school and as a technical writer. However, the career I enjoyed most was teaching Math, Physics and Environmental Science to middle school students. The curiosity that my students showed and their interest in exploring beyond the curriculum encouraged me to expand the boundaries of my teaching.

The Learning Design & Technology field has opened several avenues for me to put my education to practice in addition to stimulating my creative side. The Master’s degree and the Ph.D. programs in LDT at Purdue University, have provided the theoretical foundation for how to make learning appropriate for different audiences. LDT brings about a beautiful amalgamation of learning theories and emerging technologies to make learning fun, easy and meaningful to learners, whether in K-12, University, corporate sector or in adult basic education classrooms.

At Purdue, I’ve received maximum support from my faculty and I am involved in many research projects. My adviser applied for a fellowship for me and helped me receive the David Ross fellowship that supports my Ph.D. education. Not only me, several international students have received good fellowships and teaching assistantships which help them finance their education at Purdue. Within a year into my Ph.D, I was able to publish two scholarly papers in noteworthy journals and have a few more papers under review. In addition to working on research papers, I receive plenty of opportunities to work on other projects.

At present I am working with faculty on different projects ranging from evaluating MOOCs, studying attitude change in online and face-to-face (f2f) education, teaching f2f under-graduate educational technology courses, co-teaching an online course on Project Management, developing a repository of educational technology tools for online teaching and so on. As a service I am also developing STEM based learning modules for adult basic education (ABE). This semester, for my internship, I will be working on creating educational content which will be used by programmers to develop lessons using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. All these experiences, I believe, will make me a better teacher, collaborator, learning design technologist and educational technology expert.

On completing my Ph.D., my immediate goal is to teach in a research oriented university and gain valuable experience interacting with faculty, mining their expertise and expanding my knowledge. I really enjoy reading literature pertaining to educational technology, researching learning environments and writing scholarly papers. The joy of seeing my work, published in peer-reviewed journals is undefinable.

​Long-Term Goals​

I always wanted to establish a School of Practical Learning in India. This school will scaffold the theoretical learning in STEM subjects that is provided by other regular schools. It was with this vision and to update myself with what is new in education, that I enrolled in the LDT program at Purdue University in January 2015 to earn my 2nd Master’s degree. My journey continued into the Ph.D. program. I fervently hope to identify ways to augment the learning of students, with regards to socio-scientific topics, like environmental sustainability to make them better citizens of this world. ​

Someone once said, “If you are not willing to learn, No one can help you.

If you are determined to learn, No one can stop you.”

I’m determined to learn – Shamila Janakiraman

     

Zucrow Student Association

Reflections on Purdue and the Zucrow Student Association

Hello folks visiting this super webpage! I’m not entirely sure how to start this blog, as this is my first time as a blogger, but well 😊 first time for everything. I’m writing this up as I am flying high in the air somewhere over the Atlantic to land in Warsaw and then following the smell of chocolates to my home country: Belgium. Going on a necessary break after a nice and exhausting semester here at Purdue!

Small introduction… I’m James and currently 3rd year PhD student at Purdue University. As many students here, I’m an engineer and enrolled in the mechanical engineering department. I started at the same time as Mario Tindaro (who made this awesome movie for the global ambassadors, as seen here) as well as Valeria Andreoli. I landed here after doing a research master in fluid dynamics at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics. And now I’m performing research on the future gas turbines at the PETAL lab (Purdue Experimental Aerothermal lab, engineering.purdue.edu/PETAL). This research lab is located outside of West Lafayette, near the airport, in a place called Zucrow Labs. A place that most students don’t even know!

I’m of course not here to tell you about my research (for those kind of questions you can shoot me a private mail😊), however I’d like to share some parts of my life here. At Zucrow we have a student organization called the Zucrow Student Association, in which I am serving my 2nd year as president. Indeed, foreigners can become presidents here! ZSA consists of all kinds of cool people: Amelia and Monique (both from the west coast) and Timo and me (both from the North of Europe 😊. You see, a lot of fun!

Our goal is to try to get all the students together as much as we can, both during working hours, as outside. In September we hosted a tailgate for the students of our lab. Tailgate? Yep, before a football game, all of the purdue fans gather in front of their cars and have a BBQ on the fields of the Corec (our gigantic gym) which results in a huge party! (For the early birds: during game days, the true purdue student fans wake up at 5-6 AM to start ‘breakfast club’.. a very interesting activity that everyone should once do!).

 

We also host lunch and learns where we get the famous Papa Johns pizza (some say the best pizza from West Lafayette) and where students talk about their research while eating some thin crust pizza/ cheese bread / you name it and ZSA serves it! We also do coffee breaks where we serve premium Starbucks coffee and Marie Lou Donuts. These Marie Lou donuts are unique: 50 cents for a donut, but the best ones you will ever try! I guess that’s why these donuts run out so fast…

Zucrow Student Association Volleyball

In summer (it gets really sunny out here) we play beach volleyball and organize barbecues in the famous picket park, because after some intense game of volleyball: what’s better than enjoying some of the finest Indiana pork ribs?! During winter this should be switched to ice skating, although now there is still no ice.. this will probably come very soon.

 

 

This year, we also hosted an end-of-the-year dinner at the Lafayette brewing company: some Indiana beers and burgers, what else you need to make students happy?!

Additionally, many of the former grad students at Zucrow go to space: recently Scott Tingle! Guess what? He took our group photo and a banner from zucrow to space to sign it, so in a way… all of Zucrow goes to space 😊 !!!

Finally, ZSA also sells a lot of apparel: Zucrow t-shirts, Zucrow mugs, … all you can imagine: ZSA sells it. Don’t hesitate to shoot us an email if you’d like to buy some hehe 😊 (zsa@purdue.edu). The apparel is very useful and cool: imagine taking a flight wherever over the world… at least one person will stop you to tell you “BOILERMAKER!!” (and you with your jetlagged mind :”huhh??”). So you see, you’re never traveling alone, boilermakers all over the world. (PS Purdue students are called boilermakers…)

So, this student is going to lower the seat, relax and ready to dream about chocolates, fries and beer aka Belgium 😊, if at least the people behind me stop talking… good night!

Airplane view Vancouver

Purdue Will Allow You To Visit Amazing Places!

The Globe

There are very few cities in the world where vibrancy, greenery, innovation, and economic vitality are combined in such a way like in Vancouver. For these reasons this city ranks among the top 10 most livable cities in the world. This less-than-a-million-people city, located in the Province of British Columbia, western Canada, was the host of the 64th Annual meeting of the North American Regional Science Council (NARSC) last November, to which I had the pleasure of attending.

Two other students and I attended this conference to present our research being conducted as part of the Sustainable Transportation Systems Research Group at Purdue, which focuses on transportation planning, energy, and economic development. During my presentation, I got very insightful feedback about my research on regional economic resilience and transportation accessibility. This presentation was also accompanied with an incredible view 22 stories above Vancouver’s downtown streets on a Friday afternoon.

CANA sign

 

I had also the chance to attend other sessions highly relevant to my dissertation. For example, one presentation discussed the role of transportation on the specialization and diversification of cities. At the same time, I had the chance to meet and chat with renowned scholars in my field during coffee breaks or while waiting for the sessions to start.

My friends and I also had the chance to visit some famous landmarks of Vancouver, explore restaurants, and interact with locals. All I can say is that we were sad to leave a city that we came to love in just a few days. I did not leave, however, without getting some bottles of Maple syrup.

Dinner

In summary, this conference’s vibrant and encouraging environment inspired me to continue applying my best efforts towards research and future professional goals. I am also very thankful to the College of Engineering and Purdue University for their support, which allow me to attend this awesome conference. We learned that the Purdue’s reputation and quality of research will not only open doors to academic and technical worlds, but also to an amazing array of experiences around the world.

Purdue Ag Alumni’s Graduate Student Industry Tour: An Eye Opening Experience

During the semester Fall break, Purdue College of Agriculture and Purdue Ag Alumni offered the first Graduate Student Industry tour which highlights some of the great companies in and around Indianapolis and learned about their core businesses, laboratory facilities, and work environments. Fifty graduate students under the College of Agriculture participated on the tour along with some of the faculty members and staffs, including Dr. Barbara L. Golden from Department of Biochemistry and Dr. Shawn S. Donkin from Department of Animal Sciences. The tour was managed by Ag Alumni Program Manager, Danica C. Kirkpatrick.

As an international graduate student, I was very excited to be selected for this tour because just like many students who participated on this tour, I still have a little idea about career opportunities and the day-to-day rhythms of the workplace. Providing students to tour a company helps gain a firsthand knowledge of the technologies and skills apply especially in STEM-related jobs.

The two days tour started on October 9th includes a visit to Dow AgroSciences headquarter, Eli Lily and Company corporate campus, Roche Diagnostics and Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI). I also attended a poster session and a networking reception at the 2017 BioCrossroads Indiana Life Science Summit. In the networking event, I met with the members of the Indy Science Connect networking organization and industry professionals from companies like Eli Lily, Dow AgroSciences, and Labcyte Inc. I had the opportunity to engage with them in STEM research and think about how I might connect to tech-related jobs post graduation or participate in an internship program. 

With some of the students at the 2017 BioCrossroads Indiana Life Science Summit
With some of the students at the 2017 BioCrossroads Indiana Life Science Summit

This tour has been an eye-opening experience because I was impressed by the diversity of life science ecosystems in Indiana, especially in and around Indianapolis. It was also inspiring to learn from the Purdue alumni and other industry professionals about their journey to building a successful career after leaving the school. On a fun note, I also had the chance to meet new friends and explore the city together. I hope Purdue will keep on supporting such accessible interactive event that will enrich students experience during their graduate studies.

A group picture in front of Dow AgroSciences headquarter (thank you, Jennifer Hale, from Dow AgroSciences for the picture).
A group picture in front of Dow AgroSciences headquarter (thank you, Jennifer Hale, from Dow AgroSciences for the picture).

Due to company policy, taking a picture is not allowed most of the times during the tour but here is some information about the companies to share a bit of excitement about the tour:

Founded in the 1950s, Dow AgroSciences has been a part of Indiana’s agriculture heritage and is one of the biggest companies that develop sustainable chemical and biotechnology solutions for increasing crop productivity. Ely Lily is an American global pharmaceutical company that was founded by Colonel Eli Lily in 1876. They have developed and delivered trusted medicines includes treatments in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular, diabetes, critical care, neuroscience, men’s health and musculoskeletal fields. Roche Diagnostics is a part of the Roche company businesses, one of the largest biotechnologies company in the world. Roche Diagnostics focus on delivering diagnostic solutions to provide sustainable healthcare and improve people’s lives. Meanwhile, IBRI is a relatively new institute founded in 2012 that has a mission to bring world-class research talents to Indiana to enable discovery science and innovation, working in collaboration with academic and industry researcher.

Experiences of the Purdue Study Abroad Program

I learned Spanish as my second language ten years ago. When I took the course, the instructor said that if you want to improve or even make a great progress of your Spanish, you must go to Spain or any other country speaking Spanish. Two years ago when I walked in the hallway in MSEE building, a professor asked me ”Are you interested in being TA in study abroad course next Maysemester? We will go to Spain for three weeks.” What? Going to Spain! Yes! Absolutely!

I went to Spain in May semester in the past two years. I have been to Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. I spent three weeks each year in Spain and learned a lot of fun Spanish culture. The class was in the whole morning everyday and students might do their homework in the afternoon or visit attractions around the city. As TA in this class, my job was to take care of all the students not only on their homework but on their safeties as well. Most of the time, I roamed in the city with the students, having the must-eat paella, must-watch flamenco dance, and must-visit Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. We also found a bistro serving almost unlimited tapas. You ordered any kind of drinks and the bistro gave you all tapas they made. The tapa is one of famous cuisine in Spain. You may think tapa as appetizer. It may be cold or hot. In fact, a tapa is a small portion of any kind of Spanish cuisine.

Since it costs less (three or four euros depending on the alcohol people order), students went there for their dinner several times. I did not drink and I don’t drink. So, I ordered orange juice. When I ordered orange juice, the server thought I wanted orange juice with alcohol. After 5 –minute explanation with my poor Spanish, he understood with his weird smile. I was glad that I ordered my pure orange juice andhe was also surprised that someone did not drink alcohol in the bistro. After three days, I went to the bistro again. The server recognized me and gave me orange juice right away. I thought to myself that “I want apple juice or just water.”

In the first year, five students and I decided to visit Rome at the last minute on the three-day long weekend. I made an absolutely wise decision to visit another country. I never forget what a colossal coliseum it is. When I went out of the subway, I was not ready yet to see the amphitheater. But, this tremendous building, one of seven wonders of the world, was right in the front of me. I couldn’t wait to visit inside. To my surprise, in the arena, I ran into a college friend who we have not met for more than ten years after the graduation. What a small world! It reminds me that all roads lead to Rome. So, next time if you really want to meet someone, go to coliseum!

This year, we had a cooking class. We learned to cook one of the famous Spanish food: tortilla (Spanish potato omelette). The chief told us the procedure. We peeled potatoes and cut them as diced potatoes. Then, we deep-fried the diced potatoes. After that, we put the fried potatoes into the eggs and slice onions. Mix and smear evenly before we pan-fry them. The difficulty was to flip the thick omelette and pan-fry again. I love this dish. Students and I were glad that we had a great opportunity to cook Spanish food taught by real Spanish people. The fun fact is the day after I came back to the U.S., I went to the supermarket and bought the ingredients to make the tortilla again.

At Sevilla, we had pre-talk of bullfight.We learned the history of bull fight and why Spanish people had bullfight. The bull fighter, called the matador, also wore his custom and told us the function of each part he had. Some students and I also went on stage experiencing how to trick the bull with their big and heavy red rag. Some students refused to watch bullfight in the beginning because they thought it was really cruel. However, after the pre-talk, they learned the custom/reason why Spanish people continue to have this event each year and how they were going to treat the bulls after they were killed. Some students changed their minds and would like to watch the game in live because they wanted to be more involved in Spanish culture not just listening the presentation but also watching the real show. They wanted to see what was going on and tried to deal with the cultural difference. Not always thinking from their own side, students wanted to pretend they are Spanish and figure it out why the bullfight event continues. This is also the spirit of Boiler Abroad.

I was glad that I had the chance to visit Spain and practice my Spanish. I also immersed myself into the local culture. It was a great experience to learn professional and cultural knowledge at the same time. This program provides me to gain global perspective and intercultural experience. If you have this chance, don’t miss it!

Barcelona Purdue Flag Biking in Seville Bullfight in Madrid Seville
Paris Madrid Palace Bullfight in Seville Host Family in Seville