Friday, July 11, 2014

Blog 19

Monday and Tuesday:

This week is the ninth week of my trip to China, and the beginning of my third month in HeFei. Since I have about a month left in my trip, I decided to write out some attainable goals for my remaining time here. To begin, I had a long conversation with Yuan Shuai about my short term and long term goals, and how I can achieve them.

A long term release profile study cannot be completed with the short time I have left, so instead, I will be doing a release study lasting slightly less than a month. Completing this will allow me to understand the experiment so I can complete a longer term release study when I am back in America. Yuan Shuai and I outlined the specific goals for each day this week so that the release study will be underway by the end of the week.
On Monday, I was able to practice my first coaxial electrospray experiment using curcurmin. Below is a photo of the Taylor cone I formed. It was very stable and produced a lot of microcapsules that Yuan Shuai collected for his experiment. The inner and outer solutions both contain acetone that must evaporate to create stable microcapsules. While collecting them, Yuan Shuai was saying “they’re all trash” as he placed them in a small container. I was confused by this because he was keeping all the microcapsules that he described as trash. I later realized that he was trying to describe the microbubbles as “ash” because they were all dry and would easily blow away. Microbubbles that behave as ash are ideal, and are not to be confused with trash. Below are two photos of me in the lab. For one experiment I had to wear a heavy mask that can be seen below.

On Tuesday morning I had another practice for the dragon boat rowing team. This was another exhausting practice, but it was nice to have a better understanding of the distances we would travel. Last practice I would see every check point and hope that we might take a break there. Now I understand that we generally row for about 2000 meters at a time. Knowing this has made the practice seem less difficult, even if we row farther distances. It was difficult for me to get a good photo because it was pouring rain all morning, but I did take a photo of the lake as we were leaving.
It is difficult to get back into the lab after a tough practice, but now I have a schedule for myself that I am trying to stick to. In the afternoon I tried to encapsulate rhodamine in a PLGA shell, but rhodamine is only slightly soluble in acetone. Acetone is the ideal solvent because it evaporates quickly and is good for forming stable microcapsules. We tried to encapsulate 2 different concentrations of rhodamine, but in both solutions, there was rhodamine sediment that would not completely dissolve and therefore caused the Taylor cone to be unstable.
Wednesday and Thursday:
Wednesday I began reading 2 papers that Dr. Si sent to the whole lab about modeling the interaction of microbubbles and the affect a shear boundary layer has on the stability of a capillary jet. Later in the afternoon I shadowed Yuan Shuai for his triaxial electrospray experiment. He had a lot of success collecting the microcapsules. The photo below shows how the dry microbubbles collect on the electrode and have the consistency of ash.
Thursday morning we had our usual meeting that lasted up until lunch. In the afternoon I worked with Yuan Shuai to create the rhodamine encapsulated microbubbles. Our first experiment did not go well because we were unable to form a stable Taylor cone for a long period of time. When we did finally form a stable cone, it would not collect any microcapsules. To determine the problem with the experiment Yuan Shaui did his experiment encapsulating curcurmin. He was able to form the Taylor cone easily, so we determined that something may be wrong with the solutions used. We recreated the experiment and were able to form a more stable Taylor cone as a result.
After I collected these microcapsules, Yuan Shuai and I prepared the solutions for the HPLC experiment. The calibration solution was created by dissolving rhodamine in a solution comprised of acetone and hexane. We also created the mobile phase solution that has a ratio of 75 parts methanol to 25 parts water.
Thursday night we were able to go to eat “toast” with some of the other members of the lab again! Though I really enjoyed this night, I stayed up later than I should have the day before another Dragon Boat practice.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday:
Friday morning was another rainy practice for the team. We traveled another 10,000m before we got our lunch and went back to campus. I had to run straight from the practice to the lab to give my presentation about writing biomedical engineering papers. This week I presented about references and the abstract of a paper. The presentation went well overall, but it was difficult to get participation from the group because most of the examples for these sections were long and dense with scientific terms. Next week will be my last presentation on this book.
After my presentation, Yuan Shuai and I started the release experiment. It was convenient because as I am doing my experiment, Yuan Shuai will also be doing his own experiment.   To begin, I placed 45mg of the microbubbles in one dialysis bag, and 10 grams of pure rhodamine B in another. These bags were filled with phosphate buffered saline and placed in a solution of acetone and hexane. The containers with the dialysis bags were placed in a device that consistently shakes the containers at a temperature of 37° C. I took samples from the surrounding solution at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 24 hours. I will also be taking samples every 24 hours for the next few weeks. Since I started the experiment at about 4:00 p.m., this meant that I would have to take a measurement at 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. I brought snacks and movies to watch for a long night in the lab.

I was very lucky there were two World Cup games on Friday night because some of the other students stayed in the lab all night watching the games. It was nice to have the company. I went back to my room to sleep at about 6:00 in the morning.
Saturday I spent most of my morning catching up on sleep. When I got back into the lab Yuan Shuai informed me of some bad news. It turned out that at some point, the clips holding the bag of the pure rhodamine came off and the rhodamine emptied from the bag. After we discussed the problem, we decided to continue taking samples for the experiment, but I will also begin developing microbubbles using ethanol instead of acetone. If I am successful, this will allow me to encapsulate more rhodamine B in each microbubble and therefore result in a more effective release study.
After I took my sample for the day, I went out to dinner with He Yutong, Lei Fan, and Dr. Tong. We went out to dinner because Dr. Tong will be working at OSU for a year starting this September, and he wanted to practice his English as well as ask some questions about the school. We went to a hot pot restaurant and talked a lot about OSU and what he should expect when he arrives. It was a delicious dinner and nice to meet Dr. Tong. We made plans to have dinner again this coming week!
Right after dinner I went to a swimming practice that the dragon boat team coach asked us to attend. It was nice to be able to swim some laps because the pool is much less crowded at this time. I also attended this practice on Sunday night.
The highlight of my Sunday was meeting 4 other American students that moved in to the guest house. They are from Lehigh and will be in HeFei for about 6 weeks. I am so excited to get to know these people better!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Blog 18

Monday and Tuesday:

Monday I began working on the experiment that Yuan Shuai suggested I do last week. Setting up the experiment is one of the biggest hurdles in this experiment because it can be difficult to find a clear image of the Taylor cone. I kept the flow rate of the PLGA solution at 1.5 mL/h, and the voltage at 2.0 kV. Adjusting the position of the needle was often necessary to ensure that it was in the center of the electrode. I changed the height in small unknown increments because I was unable to precisely measure the height between the needle tip and the electrode when I changed the distance between the two. I was surprised to find that the Taylor cone would still form when the tip of the needle was far below the electrode.

On Tuesday morning I had my first practice with USTC’s dragon boat rowing team. We all met at around 6:45 a.m. to take a bus to a lake that was about an hour away. I didn’t realize until I arrived that this was more like tryouts than a practice. The team will have 6 girls and 14 boys, but about 30 people, mostly boys, showed up to the practice. The final team will be decided sometime next week. I was also surprised by how exhausting this practice was. I imagined that we would be rowing short distances and that rowing would involve leg strength, as it would on a rowing machine in a gym. Instead, the rowing was completely dependent on upper body strength, and was over very long distances. The competition in July will be 10,000 meters long, and I become extremely tired after rowing only 500 meters!
Despite the difficult practice, it was nice to be outside on a lake with mountains surrounding us. I also appreciate the physical challenge and the exciting opportunity being on the team would give me. After practice we all ate lunch at the cafĂ© near the lake. It was nice to eat a big meal after the difficult practice. I don’t have any photos of the day on the lake, but hopefully I will next week! We didn’t arrive back at USTC until about 2:00 in the afternoon.
In the afternoon, Shen Shuwei and I were finally able to get ahold of the individual from the 3D printing company in Shanghai. We will be able to print the model in a black, flexible, rubber-like material, but the material cannot be printed with a thickness smaller than 1.25mm. This is a problem because the thickness of the sclera wall in the model is about 0.4 mm. The options are to make the walls thicker, or to make the scale the model larger.
During the group meeting on Tuesday night, were able to discuss the options I have with my project. After talking to Professor Xu, I will be working more on printing a model at USTC with a hard material so that we can present the options we have for the model to the other members of the group back at OSU. This hard material will allow for more flexibility when making design changes to the model. I will be sketching out a model and conversing with the other members of the group throughout the week to get this model printed as soon as we can.

Wednesday and Thursday:
Wednesday was a great day for me because I was able to learn a lot from the other members of the lab. In the morning I went with Li Yang to create a coaxial needle for myself, and the others in the lab that need them. To construct a coaxial needle, we welded a small piece of thin wire in 6 points around the inner needle. These points ensure that the needle will remain concentric with the outer needle. The welding was done with a powerful laser. Creating these welds was a tedious task because if the wire was not touching the needle or the laser wasn’t correctly aligned, then the weld would not hold. We spent all morning working on this, and finally finished making 5 needles. When we were finished, it was already too late to get lunch on campus, so we went to a small restaurant off campus. The food was incredible! I have realized that some of the most delicious food in China is found in the small restaurants on the streets rather than the expensive restaurants you find in hotels or malls. Below is a photo of the laser we used, and the welded needles.

Wednesday afternoon I was able to go with Yuan Shuai to see his HPLC test. This was beneficial for me because I hope to do some HPLC testing for my release study. HPLC stands for High Performance Liquid Chromatography and is used to separate and detect the components of a mixture. For Yuan Shuai’s work, the HPLC test is used to determine the concentration of curcurmin that has been released from the microcapsules he created. By shadowing Yuan Shuai, I was able to take notes on important aspects of the test. I left after he performed a couple of tests so that I could create my PowerPoint presentation for Thursday’s meeting.
The Thursday morning meeting went well. After showing the other students my work, Yuan Shuai said that he too was surprised by the fact that a stable Taylor cone could be formed far below the electrode. We may work together to further understand this phenomenon. I devoted the rest of my day to creating my presentation on writing biomedical research papers for Friday’s meeting. This week my presentation is on references and the abstract. Since these sections of the paper are relatively short, these chapters were not difficult to read and summarize. After dinner, I went to yoga class!
I found out Friday morning that our meeting for the day was canceled. This is not a problem for me because I will give this presentation next week. With more time in my day, I was able to get a lot of work done on my eye model project. To give the other members of the eye model group a better idea of my plan, I created a SolidWorks drawing of an eye model. I created an inlet and outlet for this model so that fluid can be pumped in and out. This model also contains a patch where real ocular tissue can be mounted, and an optical nerve stump that leaves room for a sensor to run through it. It also features a cap that will hopefully allow for an airtight seal of the flexible contact to the model to represent the cornea. The design and dimensions of this model were created based on the model from the other student at OSU. It is more difficult to make changes to his model, so I created my own to share my ideas. I will be changing this model after I talk to the other members of the group about what features this model should include, and the dimensions of these features.

Friday evening I went to my usual yoga class. I think these classes are relaxing and I really look forward to attending them on Thursdays and Fridays!
Saturday and Sunday:
Overall, this weekend was relaxing. I spent most of my weekend correcting research articles for 2 members of the lab, Lei Fan and Chuansheng Yin. They have a conference coming up in August and need to submit their papers by Tuesday. Not only was it beneficial for me to read and learn about their work, but it was also nice to be able to help the other members of the lab. All day Saturday I corrected Lei Fan’s research article about a liquid driving flow focusing microencapsulation process. For dinner I went to a restaurant called Shan Xi Mian Guan with Lei Fan and 2 of his friends. This is the same restaurant I went to with Lee Kang Qi earlier this summer. It was so nice to go back there because they serve the best food I have eaten here in China!
On Sunday I spent the day correcting Chuansheng Yin’s paper about compound-fluidic electro-flow focusing methods for microencapsulation. Though both Chuansheng Yin and Lei Fan are able to write in English very well, these papers took a long time to correct because the sentence structure was often wrong. At times, it was difficult to understand the main point of a sentence and to convey it properly. After I corrected the papers, we talked about the paper together so that they could further explain the parts that confused me, and I could explain my corrections to them.
On Sunday I went out to lunch with Lei Fan, Chuansheng Yin, and his girlfriend. The restaurant we went to served food from the Sichuan Province. I have learned that this province is known for its good spicy food. It was fun to relax and have a good meal together.
Here is a photo of the 4 of us after lunch.

Blog 17

Monday and Tuesday:

Monday morning we woke up early to explore Fenghuang. We started the day with our tour guide who brought us on a boat ride across Tuojiang River and to a couple of houses where famous people once lived. After a while, Jiaqi and I decided to break away from the group because neither of us knew these famous people, and it was extremely crowded.  We walked around the city looking at all of the souvenirs shops. We tried a lot of new food and took a lot of photos! I was very happy we were able to explore on our own for a bit!

A photo of Tuojiang River
After lunch at the hotel, we got back on the bus for another long ride. We drove for about 6 and a half hours back to Changsha, Hunan.
There was a mall near our hotel that we went to for dinner. The restaurant served the local food, which was delicious. I am lucky I love spicy food as much as I do, because I have eaten a lot of it! We walked around the mall for a little bit and got some groceries for the train ride the next day. Afterwards, we went on a hunt for a special dish that one of the girls wanted to try while she was in Changsha. It was small lobster in a spicy and tangy sauce that was incredible. I wrote down the ingredients so that I can try to make something similar when I am back at home, but with my limited cooking ability I doubt I can create something nearly as tasty.
On Tuesday we woke up early to for our last tour of Hunan University. This school was founded over 1000 years ago during the Song Dynasty as the Yuelu Shuyuan Academy. We were able to see the ancient library and temples of this University.
In the afternoon we caught our train back to HeFei, and then a bus to school. We didn’t arrive back until around 7:00 pm.
I am so happy I was able to go on this trip with Jiaqi! It was an incredible opportunity to learn about some of China’s history and to see some truly remarkable sights.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:
Wednesday I spent the day getting organized and back in a flow in the lab. I posted on BBS about my work to update the other students. I should be doing this every day, but the website is in Chinese and I have trouble navigating it by myself, so I have only been doing it about once a week. I also sent emails and discussed with my eye model group about the project. Right now we are still looking for an appropriate material to print the model. Progress is slow because we are unable to buy a flexible material to print the part. Instead, we will have to send the model out to be printed. From what I understand, this may be due to the flexible 3D printable material being new technology. Hopefully we are able to get this model printed soon! I have contacted a company about printing the model and am waiting to hear their response.
On Thursday we had our usual morning meeting that lasted up until lunch. Later that afternoon I talked to Yuan Shuai about an experiment that I can do that will be beneficial to his work and will help me become more familiar with the electrospray experiment. I will be testing the effect the distance between the needle and the electrode has on the morphology of the stable Taylor cone. To do this, I will be using the same PLGA solution, flow rate, and voltage to find the stable Taylor cone at different distances. Due to the meetings we had the rest of the week I will not be starting this project until Monday. Below is a photo another student took of Yuan Shuai and I. On Thursday evening, I went to yoga with Yuan Shuai’s girlfriend, Wan Yuhong!
Friday I spent my day the way I have for many other weeks. I spent my morning preparing for my presentation that I would give at the meeting after lunch. This week I presented on the discussion section of a journal article and on tables and figures. Overall, the meeting went very well! Other students have begun participating in the meetings, and I have become more comfortable speaking in front of everyone! After dinner I went to another yoga class. Though these classes are difficult, I enjoy the challenge!
Saturday and Sunday:
I anticipated that this weekend I would have a lot of time to relax and read a new book that I have had trouble putting down, but I found that my schedule quickly became packed with things to do!  On Saturday Dr. Shao, another advisor in Professor Xu’s lab, took me and two other students to see some of the sights around HeFei. He drove us to see some of the historic sites, including the grave of famous government officer from the Song Dynasty, Bao Zheng. Below is a photo of wax figures depicting Bao Zheng bringing the husband of the emperor’s daughter to justice.

Above is a photo of the girls in front of Qingfengge tower.

Dr. Shao then drove us to see Swan Lake, which was in the downtown area of HeFei. It was a beautiful lake surrounded by a park and office buildings in the distance. When it started to rain we went to dinner at a hot pot restaurant in mall nearby! Below are some pictures of the rest of our day.

Sunday was another eventful day for me. I went to KTV with 5 other USTC students, including Jiaqi and Lei Fan. I was very excited about this because I heard a lot about KTV from other students. I learned that KTV is similar to karaoke, and that it is what the students do when they need to relax or celebrate an accomplishment. We were having one last celebration with Jiaqi before she left to go back home for the rest of the summer. When we arrived, we went to a small room that was just for our group. We had lots of snacks, and there was a big couch facing a TV screen that would play the music video and song lyrics. We spent about 4 hours singing different songs and eating. I found it funny that in the beginning that everyone was singing sad slow love songs. I decided to try to mix it up a bit by singing “Pop” by N’SYNC. I think the change in pace came as a shock to the others. The other solo song I sang was “Why Wait” by Rascal Flatts. Below is a photo of the group at KTV!

We all got pretty tired of all the singing at around 5 so we got dinner at a restaurant nearby. It was another hot pot restaurant, but this time each person had their own bowl instead of sharing one large one. It was a buffet style restaurant so we were able to choose whatever we wanted to eat! It made me laugh that the workers at the restaurant were very shocked to see me. I was the first American they had visit the restaurant.  
Right after dinner I went with Junyuan Chen to go swimming with other people from USTC. I love to swim so I was excited to go, but I was also very curious about what this would be like. Back home if I go swimming with friends we would generally play games and jump off the diving board at an outdoor pool. This pool was indoors and very crowded. We ended up just swimming laps and stopping frequently to talk. I was happy to find I could keep up well with the other people there! I was even invited to join the dragon boat rowing team for USTC. The team will have a few practices before a big competition in July, and they need both girls and boys on the team. I need to make sure I will be able to do this, but I am very excited about the opportunity!

Blog 16

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday:

This week I began brainstorming ways to attach the cornea, in this case a contact lens, to the eye model. I started drawing up different ways to mechanically fasten the contact lens to the model, but after some thought, I decided that using a hot glue gun may be more effective for an air tight attachment. I believe that creating a notch in the model for the contact to sit will allow for the placement of the contact to be repeatable and stable. I also worked on another BBS post and read a paper that Yuan Shuai gave me. He sent me a few articles about coaxial electrospray so that I have a better understanding of the physics behind how microparticles are created.
On Tuesday morning I received the files from another OSU student containing the drawings for the eye model. He already sent me these files last week, but I had trouble opening them because I have an older version of SolidWorks. I changed one of his drawings so that I there is a notch in the eye model for the contact lens. The next step in this process is to buy the necessary 3D printing materials. Shen Shuwei helped me buy the contact lenses from a store in the university later that day.
After lunch on Tuesday I went to the bank to solve my problems with converting USD to RMB. I have already been to the bank twice with Lei Fan, and most people there speak English well, so I decided to go on my own. I wasn’t sure how to get there, but I was pretty confident that I would find my way. When I left campus the other boys from the lab seemed a little bit confused about what I was doing, but I told them that I would be okay and would be back soon. I was so proud of myself when I found the bank and talked to the woman working the front desk to help me understand what I needed to do. When I turned around to sit down, I saw the boys from the lab outside of the bank. I thought it was hilarious that they had followed me there. They told me that they were letting me find the bank on my own, but wanted to make sure I was okay. Afterwards we went and got some ice cream!
In the meeting on Tuesday night I was able to talk to my advisor, Dr. Dong, and other students about my project. I showed them the SolidWorks drawing of the eye model, and we discussed materials that would be appropriate to use for printing. Dr. Dong suggested that we consult with a company nearby that has a machine that is able to print 2 different materials at one time. One is a hard rubber material, and the other is a soft material. He asked Shen Shuwei to contact the companies for me.
I have been very lucky that most of the people I have met can speak some English, but my inability to speak and read the language has been difficult for me to adjust to. There are times when I would like to be able to find information on my own, but I am unable to do so. I am so grateful that everyone else in the lab has been so willing to help me in these situations, but I still need to work on asking questions when I know I need help.
Wednesday I enjoyed going to the supermarket with Jiaqi and a couple of her friends. We wanted to get some of the supplies that we will need for the trip on Friday. Afterwards we went to dinner in the mall. The mall is very close to the school and has a lot of unique restaurants in it. The food was delicious and we got ice cream after!
In the lab on Wednesday I was able to try making my own taylor cone again without Yuan Shuai’s help. I think that doing this on my own was very beneficial, because I was able to work through many of the problems that I didn’t know I would have. Creating a stable cone can be difficult because there are many different parameters that affect the stability of the cone including: temperature, voltage applied, voltage connection, distance from the needle to the electrode, flow rate, and many others. It takes practice to determine and correct the parameter that inhibits the stability of the cone. I tried for a long time to do this on my own, but every time I applied the voltage, there was an odd buzzing noise. When I asked Yuan Shuai for help he immediately realized that something was affecting the voltage connection. There was an iron object on the table close to the wire. As soon as he pick it up my experiment started working. I practiced forming the cone at flow rates of 0.3, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 mL/hr. Below is a photo of one of the stable cones. This photo is not as clear as the last because Yuan Shuai did not help me find the ideal lighting.

  Above is a photo Lei Fan and I took with Jiaqi in the graduation robe. She will be graduating on June 20th and heading back to Beijing.

Thursday and Friday:
On Thursday I tried to split the sclera of the eye model into layers for it to be 3D printed. I worked on this for a long time, but the model has unique geometrical features that made this very difficult. I eventually decided that I would need to find some help with this after I got back from my trip this weekend. In the afternoon I went to a yoga class and went home early to pack!
I met up with Jiaqi and her two friends early Friday morning to go to the train station where we met the rest of the group. I was very embarrassed because I packed significantly more than everyone else in our group. Most people only brought a backpack, but I brought a rolling carry on sized suitcase and a bag. I don’t know how some people were able to fit everything they would need in their small bags, but I need to learn from them how to pack lightly. When we arrived in Changsha we met our tour guide outside the train station. I was proud of myself for keeping up with the group in the train station because there are so many people around, and huge crowds of people funnel through small gates. It is a very different experience because I am accustomed to standing in lines and giving others a comfortable amount of space.
From the train station, we got on a bus that drove for about an hour before stopping on an island that translated to “Orange Continent”.  This Island is known for its huge statue of Chairman Mao, who was the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. Below are photos from this stop on the island.

We hopped back on the bus for the rest of our 5 hour drive to Zhangjiajie. On the drive we passed a lot of small towns in the rural areas of China. There were stark differences between these areas and the more urban areas. We passed a lot of broken down and empty buildings and small shelters. Some of which were filled with trash. Most of the stores or small shops that were around had no one in or around them.
Saturday and Sunday:                                                                               
Saturday we woke up early to climb Tianzi Mountain. It was refreshing to breathe the fresh cool air. To get to lunch at the top of the mountain, we had to climb up more than 3,700 stairs. By the time I reached the top of the mountain, I was more concerned with my pained legs than the beautiful scenery around me. After lunch we took some more pictures and walked around a nearby park. We also stopped at McDonalds to get some ice cream. I think it is funny that we found a McDonalds on the top of a mountain! To get back down the mountain we took a cable car which gave us a great view of the surrounding mountains! Below are some photos.

These sandstone mountains are famous for being the site of the movie Avatar!
Later in the day we decided to see Huanglong cave. The park around the cave was beautiful and had a lot of interesting statues and scenery. Overall, we had a fantastic and exhausting day! It was nice to eat dinner and relax in the hotel afterward.
Sunday we woke up early to go on another hiking trip. We went to the Huangshi Zhai national forest park to hike and look for monkeys. Below are two photos from our hiking trip!

There were so many monkeys around and they were not afraid to come up to you and grab the food from your hands. Jiaqi had some of her food stolen. After a lot of hiking we got lunch and went on a long bus trip to Fenghuang, Phoenix ancient town. On the way we stopped to visit a village of the Miao people, an ethnic minority in China. We were given a tour of the village, and there was a show at the end that featured dancers and a magician. It was interesting to learn about this group of people! Below is a photo of me with 2 of the Miao people dressed in their traditional clothing.

At one of the stops on this trip, I tried a new food made out of some kind of grass and wrapped in a leaf. Inside the ball were small sweet grains. I was nervous about trying it because it didn’t look very appetizing, but it was actually very good!

We didn’t get to Fenghuang until around 10. The city was on Tuojiang River which caused the air to be very humid and hot. There was a very lively atmosphere with soothing music and lights everywhere. Many people were wearing crowns made of beautiful flowers.  Unfortunately, it started raining after a while so we went back to our hotel to get some sleep. Below is a photo of me in the city at night. I am excited to see more of this city tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blog 15

Saturday and Sunday:

Saturday was a difficult day for me because the air quality was very bad. When I met with Sarah, the other American girl, earlier this trip she told me to get an app called air quality so I could be informed about how clear the air is. Many people will wear masks around outside when the air quality gets bad. On Saturday the pollution in the air was visible. It looked like there is a fog all around. The sky was grey and the sun couldn’t be seen. The app showed that the air pollution was very high in the “very unhealthy” range on this day, and there were not many people walking around outside. I went to the lab for part of my day, but I spent most of my day indoors because I think it is noticeably harder to breathe when the air is this bad. Hopefully the air will improve soon!

Above shows a screen shot of the application on my phone called air quality. Another student in the lab gave me a mask that I can wear if the air quality begins to be a problem for me.
Above is a photo of the weather on Saturday. Though it is difficult to capture in a photo, there is a blanket of fog everywhere and the sky is a greyish color.

On Sunday the air quality started improve a bit! I went into the lab in the afternoon, and met up with Jiaqi there. We went to pizza hut with two of her friends for dinner before seeing a variety show for their graduation. I was nice to see these girls again because they will also be going on the trip to Zhangjiajie on Friday.

Below is a photo of Jiaqi and I at dinner.

The variety show was held in a large auditorium that was packed with people. There were many different dance teams and skits that were performed. It was very fun to see! At the end there was a slide show about the places that the students will go after graduation. It was definitely a special night for the graduating seniors!
Below is a photo of one of the acts from the variety show!

After a great night with Jiaqi and her friends, I realize how sad I will be when she leaves because she has become a great friend and has helped me so much. It has also made me so excited to go on the trip with her later this week!

Blog 14

Thursday and Friday:

Thursday morning we had our usual group meeting that lasted all morning. I got to hear about all the work that the other students in the lab have been doing. Most of the people have PowerPoint slides that are written in English so I am able to understand what they are working on. It is fascinating to see the incredible work the other students are doing, and humbling to be surrounded by such brilliant people. Below is a large group photo with the names of everyone in the lab.

That afternoon I worked on my PowerPoint slides for my presentation on Friday, and I helped Yuan Shuai with his practice for his TOEFL test. He takes this next week, so he has been working hard to prepare for it. All I had to do was tell him when he mispronounced a word, and then read the passages myself. Most of the Chinese students are able to read and write in English very well. The most difficult part of the test is the speaking portion.
On Friday morning I finished my presentation for later that day, and set up a Chinese bank account with Lei Fan’s help. After lunch I found out we wouldn’t be having the weekly Friday meeting anymore because so many people have final exams this week and next and need the time to study. I was happy about this because it gave me the opportunity to try my first experiment on my own. Yuan Shuai was there to make sure I didn’t electrocute myself my first time trying the experiment. I only used one material instead of two so that I could get used to creating the Taylor cone on my own. Below is a photo of the stable Taylor cone that I made!

Next I hope to encapsulate Rhodamine in a PLGA shell!

Blog 13

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:

Monday, June 2nd, was a holiday in China called “Dragon Boat Festival”. Professor Xu explained to me that this holiday commemorates the death of a famous poet named Qu Yuan. This is not a big holiday in China, but the people that live close to the school will go home and everyone else will have a day to relax. Below is a photo of the food that is traditionally eaten on this holiday. It is a mound of rice wrapped in seaweed and filled with meat or jujubes. The wrapping is used to add flavor to the food, but is not eaten.

Most people didn’t go into the lab on Monday. When I got there the only other person in the room was Jiaqi. I worked for a little bit in the morning, and I went on a long walk with He Yutong around campus in the afternoon. Afterwards we got lunch in the faculty cafeteria with the other students from the lab. Professor Xu gave us his faculty lunch card because we were in the lab on the holiday.
On Tuesday morning I worked on developing a new protocol for my experiment. To do this I read articles that performed similar experiments. After lunch I went to the police station with He Yutong, because any foreign visitor to HeFei needs to register with the police if they are staying for over a month. I didn’t know what was being said between He Yutong and the woman working the front desk, but it seemed like there was an unusual amount of conversation going on between the two. After we left, He Yutong told me that I was supposed to register with the police 24 hours after I arrived in Hefei. Instead, I waited about a month! I received a paper with the title “Punishment of Warning”, but He Yutong told me that it should not be a problem.
Later in the afternoon, Yuan Shuai told me that he built me my own experimental set-up! I wish I had been able to help him do this, but I didn’t know he was working on it until he was almost done. It makes me laugh when I work with Yuan Shuai because he works and walks so quickly that it is hard for me to keep up. I am happy that I will be able to start my experiment soon!
On Wednesday morning I worked on my eye model project. Dr. Roberts recently gave a clear outline and goal of this project and established communication for all the people involved in this project. Another student at Ohio State has created a detailed model of the eye. My job in this project is to determine how the model can be 3D printed. Our goal is to initially make a very simple model, and to add levels of complexity as we determine what works.
I spent the afternoon going to the bank with Lei Fan so that I could figure out how to exchange my USD for RMB. I was also very excited on Wednesday because Jiaqi invited me to go with her on a trip to Zhangjiajie. We will be traveling there with the rest of her class as a graduation celebration. We will be leaving on June 13th and arriving back in Hefei on June 17th. This trip is about a 4 hour train ride away from Hefei. The area looks beautiful and I am so excited to have the opportunity to travel there!