I’ve been struggling to find the appropriate words to express just how profound my experience as a President’s Summer Fellow has been. After falling into a deep rut following a series of negative experiences working as a professional ballet dancer, I desperately wanted to rewire my relationship to my body, my technique, and the concert dance world in general. This was a big request for a ten week project, but I am incredibly happy with the results. Through innumerable bruises, doubts, and tears, I have come out of this adventure a very different dancer then when I began. Spending six weeks training and exploring at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance has given me new confidence, a new sense of wonder, and new joy in all things dance and movement related.
During my time in Cuba I came to learn many of the country's realities of life. Some were hard to face, but others were truly amazing. Simply unbelievable! For example, racism and class division just simply do not exist in Cuba. In terms of race relations, everyone is so mixed, and has been mixing for so many generations that it is difficult to tell what most people's ethnicities are. The concept of race did not exist for the Cubans that I spoke to. When I would ask people about racism, they seemed confused as to what racism would consist of, and as to why I was asking. When I explained the United State’s race relations, they seemed to struggle to conceptualize the idea, because it just didn't exist in their world. I got looks of shock when I explained the United States' history of racism and the racial divisions that continue today. It was fascinating to see a country that shared in having a history of racism, but that had experienced such a different outcome. Cuba's racial blindness wasn't just apparent in words, but in action too. Cubans of all colors did everything together, everywhere. My family had blonde haired, blue-eyed neighbors stopping by, as well as dark-skinned friends. There weren't any neighborhoods segregated by race as there are in the United States. People explained to me that on average there were more black doctors than white doctors in every hospital. Most police I saw were black or mixed, to my surprise. I encountered no visible signs of racial division. It was quite incredible.
Intimately tied into this racial peace is the fact that everyone in Cuba is the same class (excluding military and government officials). In this way Cubans' social relations were even more unbelievable, because there were no divisions based on class, clothing, visible signs of wealth, class customs, or any other usual causes of segregation. No one looked down upon anyone else for not having money, because everyone struggled all the time. Just like racial divisions, class pretension and class shame between Cubans does not exist. As an American, there were times I felt I had found a social utopia.
Arriving in Cuba was crazy. I had had a near nervous break down the day before, because I had been dreaming about Cuba for so long, and it was finally coming. It was the first time I had ever accomplished anything that big and important to me. I hadn't gotten much sleep and I was freaking out when the plane landed at the José Martí airport in Havana. Everyone was speaking to me in Spanish and I couldn't understand their thick Cuban accents properly. I was certainly not in the U.S. anymore. When I finally reached the other side of security, my family was waiting for me outside the exit among all of the other Cuban families. They recognized me right away, even though they haven't seen any recent pictures of me, because I look just like my grandma when she was younger, as I later came to find out. Driving through Havana for the first time was unreal. I was in a state of shock for the entire first day, as I spent the day talking with my family and taking naps. They were all so excited to have me there.
The strangest thing about Cuba was that everything was exactly as I expected. I had prepared for the opposite-I told myself not to expect anything and that everything would probably be different than I thought. Ironically, Cuba was just how I'd seen it, in my dreams at night, in books, in other people's stories. It was like I had been there before, and it felt not only incredible but very comfortable. Not to mention that everything there was absolutely beautiful. I thought maybe it only looked this way in pictures, but realized that photos of Cuba in tour books and on posters are actually extremely representative. Everything is tropical, there are fruit trees everywhere, pastel colored houses, old cars of bright colors with thick black smoke coming out of the tail pipes. I absolutely loved it. It truly was like going back in time 50 years, not just in how Cuba physically looked, but also in the country's abilities. For example, there was hardly any internet connection at all; it was just not apart of people's daily lives because it costs so much money there. Few people had cell phones and when they did they were not used often. Everything had to be done by phone or in person. Most people did not have cars. People walked around from house to house in their spare time-socializing, having fun, drinking coffee, playing chess or dominoes.
There's a pig!
As always, Commerce Kitchen has been a blast!
We’ve learned a lot throughout the internship. We had our fist project taken away because it started getting out of the scope of things in intern can do. What started as linkbait turned into a campaign and the subsequently turned uncontrollable. For us interns at least. We were still able to launch an entire linkbait project despite all the time that campaign took up.
This was a super exciting process. It was challenging, as it was very hands off, but very rewarding. We researched Seattle Mortgage Planners, their audience and the best way to reach out to them. We settled on an infographic about biking in Seattle. If you want, you can check it out here! (http://www.seattlemortgageplanners.com/2013/08/biking-in-seattle/)
My internship at OHSU has now ended, but fortunately not my partnership with the Wehrli lab. I will continue on as a research assistant for the next year before proceeding to graduate school and will hopefully help to advance the lab’s ongoing projects.
We have been making good progress towards understanding some of the mechanisms by which processes dependent on Wnt signaling are regulated. As mentioned earlier, fluorescence microscopy figures prominently in our research. Marcel has taken a somewhat non-traditional approach to fluorescence imaging for this project in order to skirt some issues peculiar to the Wnt pathway. This has largely paid off, but we are sometimes hindered by issues unrelated to the imaging techniques themselves: often, the biggest challenge we face comes from our research subjects before they are even dissected. While Drosophila are typically easy to care for, certain genetic constructs, pivotal to our research, have a disappointing effect on their survival rates. An experiment that seems very straightforward at the outset can be a laborious process as fly crosses are made and remade to yield the needed larvae. Despite all the resources that our fully functional lab has access to, research can come to a halt due to events beyond our control. Additionally, our latest observations from the confocal microscope may prompt us to reconsider what we’ve previously seen. We may want to revisit an experiment that seemed complete weeks or months ago.
Despite this apparent lack of progress, the pieces do eventually come together in some fashion. We may be thoroughly confused by our data on some days, but when Marcel sees what we’ve missed before, things begin to make sense. These are the “aha!” moments that scientists strive for. At these moments, I typically remain confused. Recognizing patterns can be hard. Understanding the implications of those patterns is harder. Some of our experiments give strong results that, on the surface, get us no closer to our quarry. These results may be the key to answering our questions if we can come to understand their significance. I look forward to the discovery.
PREVIOUSLY on Sofi’s adventures in Denver: Sofi started as an intern at Commerce Kitchen, a web development and marketing company that is actually a group of superheroes. Her task, along with her fellow Reed intern Rebecca, was to research and produce what is known in the industry as “linkbait”—any online content cool enough that people will want to post links to it—a strategy for content marketing and search engine optimization. She was in the midst of creating a linkbait project when we left her last…
Something More Than Your Average Linkbait
Some weeks ago, we had our idea for a linkbait: drink recipes inspired by file format extensions (JPG, TXT, etc.)—it was nerdy and reflected the interests of Commerce Kitchen. We initially wanted to make it an infographic, but after a number of discussions on how best to promote the idea, it evolved from a simple online posting into something much bigger: a multi-week drink-making competition between local start-ups.
GameJammers test Joe Wasserman's econ-based barbershop game
Beginning August 1st, the small classroom in the Psychology building was transformed into a studio for aspiring Reed student and alumni game developers. The conversion of the tiny classroom into a software and tabletop game studio is without a doubt more mental than physical— the room remains largely empty, added décor consisting only of a mini-fridge topped with a bag of pretzels, a couple of pizza boxes, an empty coffee cup, and a “to do” list scrawled on the white board.
“Maybe I should have tried to decorate. Put up some posters or something.” Mark Chen '95, who instigated this summer’s GameJam (which is sponsored by The Center for Life Beyond Reed and alumni & parent relations at Reed with help from colleagues in computer user services and facilities), remarked sheepishly at one point.
But the lack of anything in the studio other than some snacks to refuel simply demonstrates the nature and focus of the GameJam. Fancy equipment or a specialized, personalized location is unnecessary. All that is needed for a successful GameJam is contained within the participants themselves.
The objective of my proposed publication has undergone a subtle shift over the last two months. I had initially envisioned either a formal review that surveyed a year’s work at Reed, or a thematic publication, composed of art, essays, and, fiction. Since then, my objective has narrowed.
As the Freedom Award Luncheon looms closer, I am working harder than ever. I keep track of all our table sales and preparations. I've made so many spreadsheets, I almost never want to open Microsoft Excel again! I am learning about all of the organization it takes to prepare for this event, which will host somewhere around 470 people. All of the decorations and the menu must be ordered. Inivtations need to be sent out. I'm sure that when I get back from vacation I will have a stack of RSVPs to wade through so that we can begin table seating arrangements.
I’m five weeks into my Social Media and Outreach Internship with the 501(c)3 nonprofit Sustainable Integrated Organic Livelihoods (SOIL) and I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with such an effective, socially responsible organization. In my time here I’ve come to more fully appreciate the gravity of the global sanitation crisis, being that over 2.5 billion people across the globe lack improved sanitation facilities. In Haiti, over 70% lack access to a toilet leading to a high rate of child mortality from waterborne diseases. While SOIL’s contribution to mitigating this problem sometimes feel like a drop in the ocean in the context of these staggering data, the fact still remains that close to 7,000 Haitians are currently benefiting from SOIL’s products and services. In addition, SOIL focuses on designs and services with the potential to be scaled up through social business development so it’s exciting to see how this small project might help address the international challenge of increasing global access to sanitation.
SOIL implemented the first urban waste treatment site in all of Haiti in 2009. Considering how densely packed Port-au-Prince is, this is truly astounding to imagine. SOIL now operates two out of four waste treatment sites in Haiti. The capacity of these sites is clearly inadequate to suit the needs of the country, but Haiti is moving in the right direction with their new Water and Sanitation Authority and the public and private sector are working together more closely than ever to quell the cholera epidemic and implement long-term sanitation solutions.
My practicum in the philosophic aspects of scientific research is technically over today. My internship at LBPA (Laboratoire de biologie et de pharmacologie applliquée) at ENS-Cachan was an amazing experience. I want to thank Bianca Sclavi and the teams at ENS-Cachan for being so kind and flexible to my non-scientific presence in their laboratories. I hope that I opened a few minds to the idea of the benefits of integrating the humanities with the physical sciences. I also want to thank Reed College for all of the support and aid that has made my summer such a grand success.
During my time as an embedded philosopher I have tried to ask questions that people somehow ignore in the lab. These questions attempt to expose the epistemic values that are hidden within the scientific method, and show how the physical sciences represent reality just as well as other disciplines. Due to the values embedded within research projects the physical sciences do not actually uncover "truths" of reality, but in fact the knowledge produced from a lab is similar to a fictional narrative. From deciding which graphs to choose for a report, which instruments to trust, or even the simple act of pipetting, there are always values that frame the scientific research. However, before I finish my summer project I would like to reintegrate the three themes of my practicum. One of my focuses was to look at the epistemological aspects of the scientific process.
I began by looking into how the research at LBPA is funded. It became clear that the process of applying for funding is completely flawed and it is now becoming more and more of a game of luck. The number of applicants grows every year, as does the need for labs to consider what they bring to society. This brought me to the second focus of my internship: broader impacts.
It is becoming necessary for research teams to consider the impacts of their research, and it is also becoming increasingly clear that the best way to accomplish this is through interdisciplinary (ID) and transdisciplinary (TD) research. Research teams who claim that their projects are only for the sake of science are losing funding. Researchers need to learn how to engage with other academics from different disciplines and with the citizens of their society in order to be competitive for grant money. My research on broader impacts led me to the third focus to my internship. Due to the importance of ID/TD I decided to investigate the state of ID/TD education and research in Paris.
It turns out that I’ve launched myself on a set of new adventures. I visited the Centre de Researche Interdisciplinaire (CRI) in Pairs, and learned a lot about their programs for ID/TD research and education. I met with their curriculum designer to find ways that I can become involved with their courses on the philosophy of science this fall. This might be in the form of a presentation describing my practicum, or I might lead a discussion group every week on science and society studies and the philosophical questions intrinsic to scientific research. This is all still in the planning stages, but I am looking forward to working with CRI this fall.
So, all in all I would have to say this summer has been a success. My final report on my experiments at LBPA contests the current understanding of the structure of a cell, and hopefully further research on this area will lead to breakthroughs on how the inner structure of the cell effects DNA replication. To learn more, visit the link below to my final report. Also, one of my hopes for this internship was to establish relationships that could potentially being me back to Paris in the future, and I believe that there is a strong possibility of that happening.
I hope you all have a wonderful month of August! I will be off reading Adieux by De Beauvior on a beach in Greece. I am looking forward to a break from reading science and STS articles….
-Maya Frodeman, Reed College ‘15
P.S. If you want to hear more about my summer internship I have an extended blog at: http://cascsid.cas.unt.edu/?author=20 I am writing under the name of Axiothea.…
P.P.S Here is a copy of my official lab report on the activity of the phage P5 promoter in E.Coli: FINAL DRAFT--Report on the activity of the P5 promoter
As with my first blog post, I will first summarize my research at the national library, then say a few words about my home and social lives in Paris.
My research has progressed well since the last round of blog posts. Readers may recall that my preliminary goal as a President’s Summer Fellow was to idenfity the geographic origins of the second text in Ms. BNF 375, a medieval French version of the Apocalypse. I spent my first month in Paris doing just that. I first performed a dialectal analysis to determine the provenance of 375’s copy of Explication. In brief, the copyist wrote in picard, a Northern scripta, or written dialect. However, I also noticed that the text opens with a prologue, and that this prologue exhibits a number of linguistic traits inconsistent with Picard writing. Working under the assumption that the language of the prologue is also that of the original text, I was able to link Explication to a prominent 12th-century coypist, Gilbert de la Porrée, bishop of Poitiers from 1142-1154. In the end, then, I can make a pretty tenable connection between 375’s Apocalypse and the city of Poitiers.
I’m writing this blog post having just finished a check-in meeting with my supervisor. I was showing her my ideas about how SVP could adapt Salesforce.com’s powerful features and tools to foster a greater degree of collaboration between Partners, among staff, and across the network. For example: I’ve created a survey in Flow Designer that will automatically update the Partner’s record in our database with the kind of granular data around professional skills that helps SVP staff make a solid match between Partners and Investees. With more accurate and easily searchable information, SVP can more efficiently reach out to Partners and avoid letting those with valuable skills go untapped.
I’ve also been looking into Salesforce’s Self-Service Portal. Originally designed to let customers interact with service reps when trying to resolve a case, I’m recommending that SVP use it to allow SVP staff and Partners to communicate with each other about an Investee Project. Right now, such communications happen mainly via email. Keeping these conversations in the central database will allow others across the network to access the knowledge captured in the projects.
Each point represents the address of a Food Scout participant. Colors groups addresses by zip code, and the black arrow points to the site of Lents Farmers Market
While half the work of running a youth education booth—called Food Scouts-- at Lents International Farmers Market is the improvisation of wacky games, the underlying other half of the work is data compilation. Because the program relies, somewhat begrudgingly, on funding from Whole Foods, it is my job to take note of participant numbers as well as their demographic each week. For example, I've now signed up 206 kids between the ages of 5 and 12, but we are still 94 short of the 300 goal. On July 28th, 15 new kids joined, but on July 21st, there were 24 new scouts. I might look at geographical outreach the week before (did I post fliers in neighboring communities close by? Did I post fliers in wealthy neighborhoods that already sustain flourishing markets?) and compare this outreach using map points with the home addresses that the parent/guardians of the Food Scouts share with me.
BH: Erik, you’ve been in the trenches as an alumnus for a long time, trying to come up with great ways to facilitate alumni engagement with students. How do you think we’re doing today?
EAS: It has been about a decade since my own engagement with the alumni association moved beyond organizing chapter social events and my class reunion. That shift was motivated by a personal interest in helping students and alumni with what we’ve come to call “Life Beyond Reed.” Even then, I wasn’t alone in my interest, there were other people, on and off the alumni board, who had their own take on the topic.
Kendall Taggart, Anthropology major and class of ’09, is a now a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting. She offers a few words of experience and insight from her travels from Reed into the world of investigative journalism. She demonstrates that doggedness and determination can never be overvalued in the pursuit of your ambitions.
M: Tell me about your time at Reed- how did Reed set you up to pursue a career in investigative journalism?
K: I loved Reed. It sets you up well to think. Not so much to get a job though, I think. I didn’t leave Reed having anything to show for my journalism ability. Actually though, I think Reedies are well set up, they just don’t know it. They’ve learned critical thinking, how to take on a problem and know how to solve it. With journalism, you’re rarely the expert. You have to rely on others, and know what’s BS and what’s not.
Hello! I am starting the beginning of my fourth week of my internship here in Paris! Wow, time goes by very quickly.
Today I read a great article called Disciplinarity: An Introduction by David R. Shumway and Ellen Messer-Davidow. It had a sweeping overview of the history of disciplinary education, and cited many of the current scholars of the transdisciplinary revolution that is catching on in academia. It was fascinating, and I hope to re-read it later tonight. I also did some research on William Whewell, a 19th c. polymath. He wrote on so many subjects that it is hard to get an idea of his character, but it is clear that he was an influential thinker in Britain. He is most well-known for his philosophy of science, history of science and moral philosophy (SEP). Some neat facts about him are that he coined the term "scientist," and that before him scientists were "called natural philosophers." Ha! The irony! I wonder how many scientists are aware of the philosophic implications behind their title…. Whewell was also very close to the influential scientists of his time. Darwin, Faraday and others would come to him to invent terms such as “anode,” “cathode,” and “ion” (those were invented for Faraday). Anyways, Whewell is someone who I hope to do more reading on. He seems like a great mind and his work is very pertinent to my studies.
Work in the studio is well under way with my instructor Richard Steiner, who has been teaching Moku Hanga, or Japanese woodblock printmaking, for over twenty years and is an established artist in Kyoto. His studio is near downtown Kyoto and makes use of every square inch of it’s modest size. Steiner has dreams of moving his studio to an abandoned temple in the countryside of Japan, but for now we work in the little house, where everything--brushes, rulers, paints, scissors, rulers, papers--has its right place. Usually there are only one or two students in the studio at a time, so the room never gets too crowded.
Traditional moku hanga separated the designing, the carving, and the printing of artworks into three distinct roles to be performed by the artist, the carver, and the printer. In Steiner’s studio, we still maintain this separation, but the artist performs all three jobs. Many traditional moku-hanga instructors begin by teaching students as a master would an apprentice: by asking students first to adhere to the instructor’s style. Richard Steiner, however, while following the traditional method of moku-hanga printing, encourages students to explore their own ideas when designing prints. What results is a collections of whimsical and creative works made by Steiner and past students which fill every spare spot of wall in the studio.
The photographs below show me working on my third print, and my first with color. The paints used are simple water colors, mixed with a starch paste.
At some point during the past few weeks, all three tracks of my summer project picked up simultaneously, and my days have been a whirlwind ever since. As I write this post, I can however reflect upon one aspect of my summer project that recently wrapped up.
Today, I attended the last meeting of my five-week architecture course at PSU. A very basic introduction, the course touched upon a variety of subjects that shape architectural theory and practice. Lectures, videos, and discussions covered topics ranging from the roles of fashion, technology, and consumerism in building design, to deeper questions regarding how design generates and communicates meaning. The course—though not the technical education I had hoped for—presented an intriguing and occasionally disheartening window into the challenging, complex, and struggling field that is contemporary architecture.
To say that my professor is disillusioned with current architectural practice would be an understatement. Because my professor believes that architecture has lost sight of its fundamental values, he challenged my classmates and I to practice deliberate and ethical architecture. In light of everything, good and bad, that I learned about architecture, my desire to pursue a career in the field remains intact. Now, I feel better equipped to attempt a postgraduate degree, and no matter where I end up, to make sure that I keep the fundamentals of architecture close at hand.
Madeline Wager, summer 2013
How’s you summer, Maddy?
Going well, working, karate, seeing friends. Work is at a BBQ place, which is funny for a vegetarian. It’s a good company, great values, a local business. I was happy to find a job without a lot of work experience, and I was only going to be there this summer.
How was your first year at Reed?
Very different from what I expected. A friend said it best: The only thing that can prepare you for a year at Reed is …. A year at Reed. It’s impossible to predict what it will be like until you do it. It was harder than I expected. I was ready for independence, excited to be away from home. Then, the reality of starting from scratch making friends, starting brand new with everything, and the work load—it was hard to make time for social life. It was tough. And, then in second semester, I started realizing that everyone else was going through the same—we all did. And, in talking about it, we all felt more settled and better.