Works and Days

Commerce Kitchen, Sofi Wright, Ch 2

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.

Inside the Reed Summer GameJam, Hosted by Mark Chen '95

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 Reed College Peer-Reviewed Journal, Ch 2

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.

De Paul Treatment Centers Internship, Ch 2

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.

Social Media and Outreach, SOIL, Chapter 2

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.

Final notes from a Paris biology lab

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.

Maya at Work

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

Locating the Past, Chapter Two Language and Culture in BNF Manuscript 375

Young man

Lukas

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.

Christina Gremore, Social Venture Partners International Intern

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.

Sara Post, Zenger Farms Intern

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.

A Conversation with Erik Speckman '91: Mentorship and Alumni Engagement

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.

Meet Kendall Taggart '09, Center for Investigative Reporting

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.

Notes from a Paris Biology Lab, Ch 2

open notebook with laboratory notes

Lab notes

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.

Japanese Woodblock Printing, Second Chapter

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.

Humanitarian Design 2: Empowering Portland Through Community Oriented Architecture

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.

Meet Madeline (Maddy) Wagar, Strategic Partnerships Intern

Young woman smiling

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.

Using Reed Extenships to Secure Summer Internships, Rachel Yahn '14

You did a couple of Reed Winter Externships last year. Could you tell us what, if any, role they played in your getting your summer internship this year? 

     I knew I wanted to work in a lab this summer, but it was difficult to write intelligently about why I wanted to work in a lab and do biomedical research without any experience in a lab. It's always hard to break into the world of science with your first research experience, as they are so competitive. My externship at NIAID with Dr. Kottilil was a stepping stone to my first research experience. Having that experience under my belt really gave me something to draw upon while writing my application essays for summer internships and I was able to show that I was confident that I wanted to do research and that I knew what it was all about. In my essays I talked about how interesting I found the research that I had observed and how I really wanted to be a part of it.

Meet Derek Owen '97

Derek, can you give a bit of background about your Reed experience?

I got interested in physics in high school, and the decision to major in it at Reed was a bit arbitrary. At Reed, I was drawn to music, and spent a lot of energy there. After graduation, I spent a lot of time doing music, played in bands, worked hard to establish a career and finally decided that music wasn’t a life that I imagined being able to sustain. During the time doing music, I was in NYC, working a job I hated, playing music. The joints in my fingers swelled and I couldn't move them. I had a two-week period where I couldn't play. I decided to leave New York and headed to Los Angeles.

Technical Documentation Sigenics, Inc.

Man in front of computers in home office

Aaron at work at Sigenics

Greetings from Sierra Madre, California, where I am currently interning at Sigenics Inc., a company excelling in the creation of custom silicon devices. When I first read the name ‘Sigenics Inc.’, I pretty much expected to find myself working amongst bustling lab-coated technicians scurrying around a clinically clean facility maintained by Wall-E-esqe robots... As it turns out, the Sierra Madre branch of Sigenics Inc. is more low-key—including me, it's a 3 man operation here, stationed in the guest house of my boss, the venerable Douglas Kerns. As far as bosses go, he’s awesome, the atmosphere is always relaxed, perhaps a side effect of working in this beautiful Los Angeles suburb. Doug tells me the Sierra Madre branch formed because he didn’t want to move out to Chicago—where the main facility of Sigenics is located—because the weather in SoCal was too nice to leave. Amen. Even after spending nearly every summer of my life here, I still don’t tire of it. Not long ago a Reed friend asked me, “Aaron, how come you never stay in Portland for summer? It gets so nice.”

“Well,” I replied, “it’s like that in L.A., too, we just call it ‘normal.’”

Reconstructive Improv 2

Woman dancing

It’s hard to believe that nearly three weeks have passed since I wrote my last blog post for Works and Days. Here in San Francisco, time has been flying by, and the workshop I’ve been participating in at the SF Conservatory of Dance is almost over. When I last wrote, I was nearing the end of the first half of the program, and had been busily taking classes in a variety of different contemporary dance idioms. In the second half of the workshop, the focus has narrowed and my classmates and I have been immersed in the improvisational and choreographic techniques of choreographer William Forsythe. While we haven’t been working with Forsythe directly, our exploration has been guided by a trusted representative of the choreographer (and a brilliant artist in his own right), Alessio Silvestrin. Having studied Forsythe and his choreography extensively for my final paper in Professor Hannah Kosstrin’s Dance 201 class, I had some idea of what to expect going into this part of the workshop, but it has still been incredibly challenging.

Notes from Wehrli Lab, OHSU

Biological slide featuring a protein complex unique to Wnt signaling

Fluorescence image of Drosophila wing disc in cross-section. Cell nuclei in blue, membranes in red, and a protein complex unique to Wnt signaling in green.

After several weeks in a fruit fly lab, I now feel quite confident in my ability to dissect larvae, create new crosses from different fly strains, and prepare tissues for microscopic imaging. Although I had never performed these techniques just two months ago, I now carry them out from memory on a regular basis. Without realizing it, I have learned how to identify many of the common Drosophila mutants that are used to create experimental crosses. I am also learning how to combine various protein or RNAi constructs in a single Drosophila line in order to interrupt or better visualize components of the Wnt signaling pathway. However, the most amazing thing to me is how much my dissection skills have improved. On my first day, I was shocked that I would be expected to remove organs from a larva only two or three millimeters long. Now, I can perform the task readily, although not nearly as quickly as my more experienced co-worker, Misha. I still have a lot to learn about the mechanisms involved in Wnt signaling. Understanding the research is far more difficult than simply carrying out the procedures. While I now know quite a bit about working with fruit flies, the complexities of the signaling pathway still elude.

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