Works and Days

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 Externships 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.

Food Scouts Internship at Lents Farmers' Market

Volunteer Jimmy Villafranca (Reed '12) talks with the kid of a vendor before market begins Sara Post

I remember going to farmers' markets as a kid in central Pennsylvania. I remember being six and sulking at the knees of my father. Being at the market meant being stuck in a wave of grown-ups watching the straw bag at his side fill with green foods that I did not yet know how to convert into meals I would want to eat.

Working actively to reverse this—to get kids excited about farmers' markets and fresh vegetables on a large scale—is a worthy mission I have the opportunity to take on thanks to Reed’s Internship Advantage program. Reed has partnered with Zenger Farm to find a seasonal intern to develop the brand new “Food Scouts” program at the Lents International Farmers Market each Sunday. Geared for youth ages 5-12, Lents gifts each Food Scout with two $1 tokens to spend on vegetables, fruit, or food producing plants.  Meanwhile, the scouts hang out at the Food Scout booth and participate in activities. They also get journals to take home and write or draw about produce. Underlying the play, the goal is the engage kids in the market—teach them why to care about plants, how to spend wisely, introduce them to other youth of the community.

SOIL Internship, Haiti

With funding from the Reed College Internship Advantage Initiative, for eight weeks this summer I am working as the social media and outreach intern for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), started by the inspiring Reed alumna Sasha Kramer. SOIL uses methods of ecological sanitation (EcoSan) to mitigate the ongoing sanitation crisis in Haiti that was only worsened by the 2010 earthquake. One of their most promising projects is the implementation of EcoSan toilets that turn human waste into much needed compost for sustainable agriculture.

Haiti came into the international limelight after the earthquake, and it seemed that every journalist and pundit felt entitled to present the public with their half-baked theories about why poverty persists in Haiti. International commentators have gazed at the Haitian poor with a mixture of disgust, pity, and fascination for centuries. In a 2010 New York Times article, David Brooks suggests that “Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences.” And although he does recognize that Haiti has “a history of oppression, slavery, and colonialism,” he points out that “so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well.” His analysis, like too many others, blames the victim and clearly ignores the particular history of colonization, slavery that has brutalized so many Haitians, starting with the indigenous population that was decimated by the Spanish in the mid-sixteenth century. Brooks cites the “progress” of Barbados without explaining who is benefiting from that “progress.” Barbados has been hospitable to tourism and transnational capital, but their economy still favors accumulation of capital with the elite classes and the benefits of tourism are not necessarily distributed equitably. It is not justified for arrogant observers like Brooks to patronizingly define universal “progress” and dictate what that should mean to Haitians.

Welcome to Works and Days

Works & Days is a blog created to highlight the adventures of Reed students and alumni in the world that lies beyond campus. By featuring first-person experiences in externships (job shadows), internships, work during the school year and during breaks; through engagement with the Portland community, with the northwest, and far beyond, Works & Days may be a How To and sometimes might tell a cautionary tale. Lessons learned, challenges overcome, amazing experiences longed for and unanticipated will make their way to this blog.

First day: Christina Gremore, Social Venture Partners (SVP) Intern

When I initially read the SVP internship description on the Reed Internship Advantage page, my first reaction was, “That looks like a really interesting project!” My second reaction was, “I’m definitely not qualified to do any of that.”

Commerce Kitchen, Sofia Wright

I am currently an intern at Commerce Kitchen, a web development and marketing company in Denver. My fellow intern (and fellow Reedie) Rebecca and I get to work there, and explore the city in our free time, for nine weeks this summer. The experience marks many firsts for me. First time visiting Denver. First summer living away from home. First paid internship. First experience working in marketing. And here, my first blog entry; it only makes sense to talk about my first impressions.

DePaul Treatment Centers

My internship at De Paul Treatment Centers is a non-profit development (fundraising) internship made possible by Reed's Internship Advantage Initiative.     

My first week at De Paul Treatment Centers was mostly filled with getting familiar with the office and who works there, and what their philosophy is. The orientation I attended really brought home their message of treatment for everyone. Although anyone can receive treatment at De Paul, their biggest mission is providing treatment to those who cannot afford it and who would otherwise go without treatment.

The Reed College Peer-Reviewed Journal

The context for my President's Summer Fellowship engages three distinct elements, which combined, will serve to inform the final goal, the production of a new, peer-reviewed journal that will engage the diverse voices of Reed’s students, faculty, and staff, spanning all departments. The elements include: To work as an intern at one of the seven internships at both literary magazines and publishing houses to which I have applied, in order to acquire the necessary skills to develop the foundation for a journal of this nature and to become well versed in the responsibilities of managing a publication. Secondly, I will conduct research at various colleges like Sarah Lawrence and Goucher College, who are already producing similar successful publications, and lastly, I will return to propose and implement my work here at Reed.

Commerce Kitchen!

Hello!

Japanese Woodblock Printing: Cultural Connections and Dialogues through Art

Growing up, Japan was always a large presence in my life. My mother made sure that I spoke Japanese fluently, and filled our household with the food, music, and traditions of her world. She also enrolled me in a Japanese school system in Eugene, Oregon, where I was able to continue learning about Japan outside my home. The result was a life suspended between the country of my heritage thousands of miles across the Pacific, and the American culture surrounding me. I am in Japan to learn the craft of traditional woodblock printing, an art that holds a vital place in Japan’s history, and has fascinated and influenced me for several years. Richard Steiner, an artist who resides in Kyoto and has taught for more than thirty years has agreed to teach me a seven week course on the art form. While in Kyoto I will also educate myself by fully engaging in the Japanese community to grasp what it means to be a part of the culture in a way I haven’t previously been able. I want to share and help pass on this rich traditional craft and opportunity for creativity. To do so, I will create an introductory art course on woodblock printing and offer the class in Portland where students will create their own Japanese prints and learn about the history of the art form.   

Telling the Cuban Story: Interviewing the Last Generation of Cuba as We Know It

For my President's Summer Fellowship, it is my dream to collect the stories of the Cuban people before the huge political changes soon to occur in Cuba actually take place, including the oncoming takeover of a new president in five years, and the consequent ending of the famous 60 year Castro dictatorship. Soon the political climate will undergo enormous changes, taking old Cuba with it; and the generation that lived through the Cuban revolution will be gone, taking their stories with them. This is a critical time in Cuban history.

The goal of my project is to document as many stories as possible from the dying generation in Cuba that lived through the Cuban revolution in the 1950s; and as many Cuban perspectives of present conditions as I can.

Humanitarian Design: Empowering Portland through Community-Oriented Architecture

Halfway through my freshman year at Reed, I decided, after much deliberation, to major in studio art. My initial reluctance stemmed from a fear of the impractical and individualistic nature of an arts-oriented career, which I believed would limit my ability to make a tangible difference in the lives of others. That is, until the moment I seriously reconsidered my lifelong interest in architecture. Suddenly, years spent meticulously constructing houses in The Sims and wandering unknown neighborhoods ogling Craftsman bungalows became the solution to my dilemma. I realized that, as an architect, I can utilize my artistic skill and appreciation of the built environment to effect meaningful change in the world. Post-Reed, I plan to complete a masters program in architecture and embark upon a career in humanitarian design. For the moment, I am trying to gain the experience and knowledge necessary to facilitate my vision.

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