Welcome to sunny CambridgePosted on June 9th, 2010 No comments
I’m doing an REU at Harvard University this summer, funded by the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) REU Program. I was running a 2-hour simulation, drinking some tea, and reading The Feynman Lectures on Physics when I decided, at Miguel’s suggestion, to give the blog a post.
Let me start with a discussion of general living circumstances. After over three weeks of lazing around Springfield, and also reading some physics articles and researching graduate programs, I jetted over to Boston on Sunday and found my way to my dorm at Harvard in a rather dangerous taxi ride. There was a simple check-in process, and while there was a slight hurdle finding my room that involved some major condescension from a security guard, I eventually found my way to my room to unpack.
The room setup is quite different from any dorm I’ve experienced (this description is essentially superfluous): from the main hallway (where some 60 summer interns in various programs, mostly research-oriented, live), you enter a suite and find a large (perhaps 20′x20′), empty room with a red phone on the ground. Off to the side, there is a narrow staircase, either up or down (mine goes down), which leads to a miniature hallway with several doors: three locked doors marked A, B-D, E-F (or something like that); two doors marked EXIT, one of which actually leads to a bathroom which is shared with the adjacent suite; and a door to a small, empty, triangular room. Inside the E-F door, there is a short hallway with space for hanging clothes and a mirror which connects to two non-lockable doors to individual bedrooms. Having a single room is nice, though it is quite small (perhaps 8.5′x8.5′). The bathroom is efficiently laid out and has two showers, two toilets, and three sinks. Most of the summer residents in research-type programs have gotten to know each other somewhat by hanging out in the common lounge on the first floor, which is fortunate. We’ve gone out to eat a lot, in fragmented groups, which is good for socializing purposes but not sustainable for the whole summer. There’s a kitchen, but I need to get my suite rolling on renting a microfridge, and I need to find a good place to shop (I regretfully feel that a Walmart would be quite convenient right now)–thankfully, there’s a small Trader Joe’s a mile south of where we are, so I’ll check that out soon.
We all met on Monday morning for some orientation sorts of things that lasted through lunch, and on Tuesday morning, we had some safety training that lasted through lunch. Those afternoons, and all day today, I have been hanging out in the lab area being paid to think, which is awesome.
The research I’m doing is strictly speaking in “Applied Physics,” and it is a bit of an engineering challenge.
I can’t do much meaningful experimental work until I have full access to the clean room. There’s a giant, super-high-tech (well, the computers all run Windows XP), absurdly well-stocked lab in there, and my work is sensitive to things like dust. But the graduate student I’m working with has gone through the fabrication techniques with me and also has shown me the focused ion beam (FIB) , and I’ve done plenty of technical reading on the broad subject, so I’m well prepared for when I finish the training for all the equipment I need (hopefully by next week). Additionally, the work I did at the REU at SIUC last summer on nanowires is going to prove quite useful–many of the techniques transfer very nicely.
We’ll see what the future has in store. I don’t know how often I’ll get around to writing on here, but I will try to do better than I did last year. I know this ran rather long, but I don’t exactly have an editor over my shoulder, here. Thanks for checking it out!
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