Last Monday before school and last week of internship! I spent the day entirely on my presentation, finishing up the rough draft and checking with Joel, Ben, and Matt. While the amount of slides (20) is ideal, I think I have too much info for a 10 minute talk. The trick is to cut down excess info, which I hope I can do quickly. In the afternoon, Ben told me he needed a set of new targets, so I ran the Large Magellanic Catalog through my program for the new targets. He has a Telecon soon with the rest of the SAGE team. For lunch, I had pizza again, and we played cards... again.
Last cook-out of the summer! During the morning meeting, Joe reminded us that there's only one week left. Saddened, Alexa and I went to the lab, which was quite empty without Matt there. I worked on Joel's project, creating the three graphs that he needed. Afterwards, I worked on my presentation, doing research on AGB stars. At 11:45, I went down to the lawn for the last cook-out. As the REU students had left in the morning, it was also very empty. After two hot-dogs, 7 of us interns played Ultimate Frisbee until 1. Alexa had to leave for Vermont, so the rest of the afternoon I was pretty much alone. I continued working on my presentation until 3, when I decided to leave. Even with one week left, I can tell this has been a great experience, something I wouldn't hesitate to do again; I will surely miss it.
My first PhD defense! Today started with a quick meeting with Bob. Afterwards, Alexa and I worked on Joel's project: collecting data from a database and generate graphs (using our own code) such as Temperature vs. Spectral Type. At 10:00, we went to Marcus' PhD defense, where he gave a presentation until 11:00. Marcus, who works with Ben at the LAMA, spent five years researching Planetary Nebulae. The presentation was extremely interesting, and I could see myself doing research like that. After that, I helped Yiqun with his programming (he is making a 3D camera). His group had issues with their Python code, so Bob asked me to help out. After an hour of debugging, we found and fixed the problem. It is nice to know that my code is already a little famous! For lunch, me and some other interns played cards (again...). From 1:00 until 3:30, I stayed with Yiqun's group in the Freshman Imaging Lab (I had brought some cookies from the Astronomy Meeting). Then Matt stopped by to say good-bye (he's heading back to Texas). For the next 4 hours, I copied the data from the database into an Excel spreadsheet, as I wanted to finish in one day. Altogether, it was a very tiring day.
Today was a day of learning! All of the REU studens presented their projects, 7 of them even gave a presentation in the CIS auditorium. As I did not have much else to do in terms of work, I stayed for the majority of the talks. Matt's focused around AGB stars, much of what I have been helping with. He talked about the life cycle of a star, specifically the AGB stage, and then what our work would help with in the future. Lauren talked about Terahertz, a type of wavelength that could replace X-rays due to it's harmless nature. She gave examples of how they worked, as well as listing pros and cons of using them in different areas of work (science, safety, etc...). Bruce talked about freeform mirrors; these mirrors are not flat, but can be bent into any shape possible using electronic charges. While currently they are only miniature, eventually they could replace car mirrors due to their increased viewing angle and depth of view. Vickie talked about noise reduction in images. Specifically, she gave examples of algorithms that reduce the effect of outside light sources in images, and how helpful this is for images of any type and wavelength. Then came a lunch break, were I ate DiBella's subs and cookies. While the lunch was meant for REU students and mentors only, Matt allowed Alexa and I to eat there as well due to our contributions. After eating, I met the other interns at Global Village, were we played cards again. At 1:30, Aviriana gave her talk about life on Mars. She found that 4 asteroids have been analyzed, hinting at the possibility of water (and thus a high probability of life) on Mars. However, they have been contaminated with terrestrial bacteria, and are not 100% accurate. After the presentations, I worked on my own presentation for next week. Today was important not only in giving me an idea of professional presentations, but also in providing me with knowledge of other possible research areas. Listening to the REU students only increased my interest in pursuing a career as a researcher.
Today was a rather odd day. During the morning meeting, Mr. Callens wasn't able to show up, so it was very short. Since Matt needed to work on his poster and presentation, I couldn't do much for him besides run the last bits of data through my code. This took me to lunch. For lunch, I had pizza and a soda; afterwards, some of the other interns stayed and played cards until 1:30 PM. Once back at the lab, I asked Dr. Kastner for more work; however, he didn't have anything to work on at the moment, so I spent the rest of the day working on my presentation. Hopefully I will have more work soon, as 8 hours without serious work can be an extremely long time.
2 weeks left... Today was again very relaxed. With Joel gone and Matt working on finding the errors in his own code, I did not have much to do. During the morning, I worked on my presentation and my abstract, finishing the second one in time for lunch. For lunch I had pizza and pretzel bits; however, I did not eat with the rest of the interns. After lunch, Matt had finally output the updated data sets, so I was able to run 6/8 of them through my code. As half of them are larger than 100MB, they take a long time to finish. Hopefully I can finish the rest of them tomorrow. Matt invited us to his presentation on Wednesday, so we talked a little about that. Overall, I hope I have more work the rest of the week; while waiting for results can be exciting, doing so for 8 hours is tiring.
Friday again! After the regular meeting--during which we presented our presentation outlines--I went straight to starting my powerpoint. Alexa had brought her friend from school, so we talked a little. With Matt not in the lab yet, that was all I could work on. I modified the extremely long title to fit on the slide, and researched the life cycle of stars (especially the AGB phase). The three hours before lunch were all taken up by this; at 11:45 I went down to the cookout. This week's cookout was a little different as most of the interns played soccer instead of volleyball. Yiqun brought a mini-ball, so Nate, Matt, Jason, Kevin, Yiqun, and I played World-Cup. Even though it was extremely hot and sunny, I enjoyed it. At one, I went back to the air-conditioned lab to work on my presentation. However, Matt had showed up, so we talked about the final steps of our project. I'm supposed to run all 8 data sets once more to output the final versions of the light curves, something that'll take upwards of 6 hours. I left at 2:30 because of the 40-hour time limit, and rode my bike (I borrowed one from the CIS building) to the hotel.
Graphical Analysis of Infrared Emissions from Thermally Pulsating Asymptotic Giant Branch Stars (TP-AGB) in the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds
Today was extremely fun! I started the day in the lab, like usual. With the program up and running, I didn't have very many things to complete before the bike trip. At eleven the interns met in the lobby, where Mr. Callens gave me one of RIT's bikes. Sadly, after only 10 feet one of the tires popped, so I ended up using Mr. Callens' own bike. The entire trip was 12 miles long; the first 3 I didn't know how to change gears, the last mile I sprinted Kevin with a tasty Western BBQ Burger in my stomach. The trip led through the Lehigh Valley Trail all the way to URochester and Mt. Hope Cemetery. There, we stopped by Frederick Douglass' and Susan B. Anthony's grave. We ate lunch at Pellegrino's; Mr. Pow paid for everything. At around 1 PM, we made our way back, stopping by a park near the Genesee River for a picture. Once back at RIT, I worked a little bit on the Outreach presentations; however, the sprint exhausted me, so I was unable to accomplish much. It's days like these that really make me appreciate the opportunity of attending this internship.
Today was by far the most interesting day of the week! After a short morning meeting, Mr. Callens showed me around campus to the Color Science Building, so I could help out a graduate student with her experiment. Yesterday late night, Matt sent me the updated and corrected data set, which I ran through successfully. The Light Curves now look like what is expected of them. Today I spent a large amount of time making the program smoother, adding the arguably most difficult component: break lines in the graph. As the dates are divided into two main groups, SAGE and SAGE-VAR with a difference of 1500 days, the plot has a ton of empty space. By adding 60 lines of code, I was able to split the plot into two subplots, a task that took up 3 hours. The next few hours were spent on rearranging the title and the axis labels, as well as further debugging.
For lunch, we listened to a talk by a research professor in the CIS building. He talked about the life of a scientist (the many pros and cons), as well as his experience as a wildfire researcher. His talk greatly influenced my future plans; he said while the path to become a scientist is very tough, the rewards are so much greater. After the talk, I went over to the Color Science Building to help out Nargess with her experiment. I had to identify faint blue dots on differently colored backgrounds. When I came back to the LAMA (Laboratory for Multiwavelength Astrophysics), I continued in debugging my newly written code. While the project isn't completely finished, I am already happy with the progress I've made. Not only did I learn a completely new language (Python), I was able to apply it to a real life project; an incredible feeling.