Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to attend my first scientific conference, the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society, more easily referred to as BMES, in San Antonio, TX. There, I was able to present a poster on my undergraduate research project from the summer, as well as sit in on several panel discussions and presentations to get a sneak peek at unpublished research from universities across the country. Most importantly, however, I was able to network directly with other undergraduate students and PhD candidates alike about their work and experience living in different cities, and if I was fortunate enough, I was able to talk to faculty research advisors, or principal investigators (PIs). This was all possible due to not only the support of my lab and research mentors, but also with support from the Student Travel Award for Research Scholarship (STARS) program organized by Dr. Bansal, which fully funded the travel expenses for me and a handful of other UD BME seniors pursuing graduate school.
The morning sun greets you from its climb in the sky as you exit the train station, backlit by clear blue skies and seagulls circling overhead. You don’t even have to think as the click of your boots on the pavement guide you across the street to a small storefront with an orange awning. As you cross the threshold, an 8-bit rendition of “Für Elise” announces your presence to the display case of croissants, torsades aux pommes, chocolate muffins, and other treasured pastries. And there, before you and your friends can take a half-step further into the bakery, the owner excitedly walks out from the back kitchen exclaiming, Les filles! Bonjour, les filles! and ushering the cashier away so she can select our pastries for us with a grin.
Over the course of the past year or so, I — like many, many other people — tried to find ways to pass the time and distract myself from the stresses and monotony of life at home. Among the more fruitful attempts of passing time, that was not movie marathon-induced naps or zoning out and staring at the ceiling, I had picked up a handful of hobbies and activities that have always piqued my interest. Some of these included yoga, getting some use out of my Nintendo Switch (see: Hades Game), bullet journaling and sketching, crocheting, and (gasp) writing (pretends to be shocked).
I found that despite the initial distress and learning curve that came with virtual learning, it coincided with the stage in my life where I actually needed to start properly developing personal projects and time for myself that wasn’t dictated by my coursework. When the pandemic hit, I had only really experienced one full semester of college and hadn’t quite established a routine for what to do in my spare time besides studying or the occasional swim; in a way, I didn’t get to foster the sense of independence or explore my personality in the way that I had wanted to. This past year, I found that this influx of excess time, bereft of the intensive dual high school / club sports schedule, provided an opportunity to actively make use of that time by incorporating these newfound hobbies and projects. What’s more, it gave me something to structure my life around instead of robotically moving from screen to screen and gave my days a breath of fresh air. Continue reading
By the end of last fall semester, I knew I needed a serious recharge. It started fairly well and carried on as well as semesters can go, but after retrospect (which most realizations are apt to stem from), I had a delayed realization as to why that post-finals, drained feeling was hanging a bit heavier over my shoulders.
After the collective last-minute struggle of abruptly adapting and transitioning to virtual learning last spring, as well as my choice to take a class over the summer, I realized that this past fall was the first fully virtual semester, stacked credits and all. Sure, it may have been a not-so-sharp realization, but knowledge is power, and this definitely had an impact on me. Last fall was neither the hybrid mix of the spring nor a single class over June. It was a set of core courses, heavy with foundational curriculum, and for some of them, the additional rigorous standards and expectations of my Honors sections—all of which were taken while I wrapped myself in a blanket at my desk at home.
So yes, suffice it to say that the build-up of Zoom fatigue from last fall more than definitely garnered some much needed R&R and winter break was a welcome reprieve. However, I knew I shouldn’t stay idle for too long, lest I mentally regress and sink into the Lauren-shaped mold in my couch for the next four weeks. Despite the extremely valid need for rest, I knew I wanted to be productive over winter session, especially considering I didn’t do very much during this time the previous year. (Hindsight at its finest once again.)
Therefore, this past January I was fortunate enough to participate in a virtual international engineering internship, which not only kept me from withdrawing into a weighted blanket-induced hibernation but more significantly helped me gain great work experience in a really unique way. I was placed in a group with other UD engineers and paired off with the medical device company Renerve Ltd. based in Melbourne, Australia. Our task was to design and formulate a surgical implant product that met a desired function and applications and to provide a full-scale proposal for the product rationale, research and development, regulatory pathways, manufacturing, and marketing strategies—all within four weeks. Continue reading
With the current fall semester well underway, it’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed, with days upon weeks upon months since March and summer blending together into one purgatorial blur. I truly could’ve sworn that everyone was exchanging frog bread recipes and sharing other spring quarantine hobbies just the other day. However, staying at home for such an extended period of time can definitely have an impact on your behavior, inducing a monotonous cycle of waking, eating, working, and sleeping, akin to how the carefree, do-nothing quality of summer encourages rejuvenating laziness. What’s more, the adjustment period between the end of summer and the start of the school year is only exacerbated by the dull routines of quarantine, in which the sudden mountain of assignments, exams, and projects creates an abrupt change of pace that can leave just about anyone suffering from the whiplash of it all.
Therefore, as we emerge from this blurred, purgatorial mindset and hit the books to do our best to muscle through this virtual semester, here are (in no particular order) the Seven Deadly Sins of Working from Home you may need to watch out for:
1. Improper Zoom Etiquette: A Lesson in Hubris
Listen, we’ve all been there, but let’s just cut to the chase: please remember to mute yourselves. There’s nothing worse than to be listening in on a lecture only to hear the feedback noise of a classmate talking to their roommate—or in rare cases, cooking in the kitchen—ultimately drowning out the voice of your instructor. What’s worse is when your professor either mishears it to be a potential question and patiently takes the time to wait (only to be greeted with silence) or stresses for everyone to mute themselves, while you are none the wiser. Wow, I can’t believe people still need to be reminded to mute themselves, one may wonder. We’ve been virtual since March, you may think. Pride cometh before the fall.