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Alive and Kicking

September 12, 2012 at 10:13 pm
By Marlena Hartman-Filson, '13

Hello, world!

Yes, I've been absent for a very, very long time. But I can explain - sort of.  I went MIA from the blogging scene around 7th week in the spring because, well, I went MIA at that time. You see, I've always been one for coloring outside of the lines, as they say. When I learned I was accepted into this really awesome summer research program in Madison, WI, I didn't really stop to consider the dates of the program. For the record, the start date was approximately 3 weeks before the end of our spring term. Details, details. So I said "yes, of course I'll be part of your program and work in your lab!" and whenever anyone asked me how that was going to go with school, I replied, "I don't exactly know... It'll work out." And it did! My professors were extremely supportive and accommodating and I was all settled into Mad Town by mid-May. Which meant I was neglecting my blogging duties, for which I am terribly sorry. But you know - real life called.

And so what, you may ask, exactly was compelling enough for me to play hookey the last three weeks of spring term?  Trees. Lots and lots of trees. And huge jugs of exceptionally strong acids and bases. I spent my summer doing chemical ecology in a lab that worked with aspen trees. Basically, we were looking at all these different genotypes of aspen and tried to see if deer preferentially browse on some genotypes over others. I spent about half my time working in the field...

aspen lab

aspen lab 

... and the other half doing chemistry in the lab.

lab team

The program I was enrolled in was also seriously legit. There were 53 of us in the program and all of us were minority students, first generation college students, or students at small liberal arts colleges without many research opportunities. I didn't know this until I got there, but it was also essentially a Ph.D prep program, so I was exposed to a lot of (sort of intimidating but exceptionally useful) information about grad school too. 

All in all, a pretty sweet gig. And Madison is awesome! In part because there was a lab in my building dedicated solely to "Potato Tissue Culture"...

aspen lab

... but for other reasons too. 

 

For example, farmer's markets:

madison

And lakes:

madison

madison

And The Terrace:

madison

And fresh ice cream made from UW-owned cows:

madison

And deep fried cheese curds and beer:

madison

And Concerts on the Square:

madison

And crazy thunderstorms:

madison

And the hooligan friends I made when I was out there:

madison

 

But alas, summer can't last forever. I've been back on campus for about three weeks, pretty much just playing soccer. Classes started on Monday, so expect a full report on school next week!

 

Auf wiedersehen, 

Marlena

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