PRIME 2009 Undergrads Write 'Dispatches from the Field'

By Maureen C. Curran

Chitters, Singer and Revelli, Monash
Ramya Chitters (left) and fellow PRIME students, Adi Singer (middle) and Scott Revelli, on the Puffing Billy train.

San Diego, CA, June 21, 2009 — The Calit2-based Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME) summer program is underway, and some of the students doing research related to cyberinfrastructure across the Pacific Rim are serving as 'foreign correspondents' for the wider UC San Diego community. 

Here, four students share their first-person insights after their first weeks abroad, with links to full articles that are part of a "Dispatches from the Field" series in This Week @ UCSD, an e-zine published by the University Communications and Public Affairs Office.

Ramya Chitters
Flexing Her Brains and Touring Australia

Melbourne, Australia - After nearly two weeks of being scared that I wouldn´t be able to go to Australia for the PRIME research program due to visa issues, I finally boarded the plane at San Francisco International Airport on the last day of June (Australian time), trading a hot summer for a cold winter down under. However, after being here for less than a week, I can quite honestly say that Melbourne is a quite welcoming town. Coming in a week later than the others, I definitely was a little flustered about the workings of the place, especially since I was still reeling from the effects of jet lag. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Ramya, a bioengineering: biotechnology major, is mentored by David Abramson (at Monash University) and Anushka Michailova (from UCSD). Her project is to use NIMROD/E to perform parameter sensitive analysis in cardiac electrophysiological models.

Jessica Hsieh
Jessica Hsieh poses in a doorway at Kek Lok Si temple.

Jessica Hsieh
Getting a Taste of Malaysia's Cultural Mix

Penang, Malaysia - After 20 hours of flying and an overnight stay in a transit hotel in Singapore, I have finally arrived in Penang, Malaysia. Saujana means beautiful in Malay, and it´s a name quite fitting for my hostel, due to the view it offers. Every day, I wake and fall asleep to the sunrises and sunsets reflecting across the Strait of Malacca, the water channel between Penang and the mainland. Due to the hot, humid, Malaysian weather, I am covered in sweat by the time I arrive at work, though it is only about a 15-minute walk away. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Jessica, a bioengineering: biotechnology major, is working to improve influenza treatments. Her project is to optimize the design of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) test probes targeting the nucleocapsid protein (NP) in the influenza virus. She is mentored by Habibah Wahab (at Universiti Sains Malaysia) and Wilfred Li (from UCSD).

Isabelle Fanchiu and Jade Kwan
Jade Kwan (right) and fellow PRIME student Isabelle Fanchiu pose in front of an art piece at the Roppongi train station.

Jade Kwan
Navigating Life in Another Country

Toyko, Japan - I´m sure past and present PRIME students can agree that it wasn´t until the very moment they stepped foot in their host countries that it hit them: this summer would be special. Sure, it was easy to share with family and friends that I was going abroad for a summer internship. But with my stuffed backpack and my laptop at my side, I began my experience in Tokyo, Japan, with one word in mind: surreal. The very first obstacle I faced was meeting up with Isabelle, the other PRIME student working at the National Institute for Information and Communications Technology (NICT). [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Jade, a cognitive science/human computer interaction major, is working on a data visualization project, taking scientific datasets to create an artistic 3-dimensional mapping, then scripting these mappings to present on high resolution tiled-display walls. She is mentored by Shinji Shimojo and Taku Morinobu (at NICT) and Jürgen Schulze (from Calit2 at UCSD).

Michael Nekrasov
Michael Nekrasov eats Oajien (a sea food omelet) at a night market in Taichung.

Michael Nekrasov
Discovering Corals, Water Buffaloes and Fried Frog in Taiwan

Kenting, Taiwan - On the morning of June 21, I stepped onto the tarmac and boarded a tiny American Eagle flight that would take me to Los Angeles, then Tokyo, and then eventually Taiwan. That is when my latest adventure began. I am a bit of a globetrotter. I love learning about new cultures, and adjusting to new circumstances. Every chance I get, I come up with new ways of getting myself out of my cozy suburban dwelling and out into the world—cheaply. At first, this summer was looking like a bust. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Michael, a computer engineering major, is helping engineer a system that will allow researchers to study corals in real time. He is mentored by Tony Fan and Fang-Pang Lin (at National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium and National Center for High-performance Computing) and Tony Fountain (from UCSD).

PRIME is a nine week-long international internship program founded in 2004 with funding from the National Science Foundation, with UC San Diego collaborators including Calit2. Other campus partners are the Academic Internship Program (grants one academic unit for the experience) and the International Center (assists students with improving their cultural understanding). The host sites of the PRIME program are key to making the program the success that it has become. Gabriele Wienhausen, UC San Diego division of biology associate dean of education and founding provost of Sixth College, is the principal investigator of this award. For more information, please see links below.

PRIME is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (including supplemental support from NSF's program for India and supplemental NSF funding via PRAGMA for three students), with additional support from the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Bioengineering department of UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, additional partners and the host institutions, including additional support at USM, NiCT and Doshisha University. Five of this year's PRIME students received outside scholarships to participate.

Related Links

PRIME program website

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