A Day in the Life of Kara DiNatale ’14 from Mississippi

Greetings from the South!

Hello, my name is Kara DiNatale and I am a rising junior in the Honors Program. I am majoring in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Materials Engineering and I am participating in a 10 week National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) at the University of Southern Mississippi School of Polymers and High Performance Materials in Hattiesburg, MS. Part of why I choose to do a program like this was because I’m not sure if I want to go to grad school or not (and REU programs are good for helping the uncertain get a better idea) and to see other parts of the country- and so far this summer has exceeded expectations!

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve gotten to do some pretty cool science stuff too! My project during my 10 week stay here at USM is researching the effects of nanofillers (such as clay and carbon nanotubes) on the properties of polymers (mainly rubbers), under the direction of Prof. Sarah Morgan. I start my days by getting up at about 8:30- I get up, grab a bagel from the dining hall or a bag of dry cereal from my room, and report the Polymer Science building at 9:00. The first 2 weeks we (the REU students, aka “REUs”) had classes in the morning but now I just go straight to my lab. I usually do work (mixing rubber-filler nanocomposites, running tests, reading papers, analyzing results…) until noon when I grab lunch and hang out with the other REUs for an hour or so. Then I go back to work until 5:00 or 6:00 depending on what I need to get done. Once a week the daily routine gets broken up by a group meeting where all of us in Dr. Morgan’s research group update each other on what we’ve done, which is cool since I get to hear other people’s research. Some weeks there’s also a seminar one afternoon where a grad student is either defending their thesis or presenting their prospectus (a proposal for their thesis research). I know this sounds pretty boring and like really long days, but it’s actually a ton of fun- I’ve learned so much and met so many people!

In my free time (aka: after work and on the weekends) I go to the gym, practice lacrosse, watch TV, and hang out with the other REUs as well as the grad students we work with. We have movie nights, Wal-Mart adventures, bowling trips, watched dirt track car races, and have gone on some pretty awesome day trips- Blueberry picking, canoeing, floating down river on inner tubes, the beach, and my favorite trip-New Orleans! I honestly think that my favorite part of this summer (in addition to all the cool science stuff) is the people I’ve met and the fun we’ve had together!

Some of my friends and me in New Orleans with a jazz band we saw performing.



A Day in the Life of Erika Chin ’14

ImageHello, my name is Erika Chin and I am a rising junior in the Honors Program. I am double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Engineering and Management. This summer I am researching the degradation process of harmful chemicals with ultrasound technology under Professor Thagard in the Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering Department. During the week, I am in the lab anywhere from 3-7 hours a day running experiments. Each week our lab meets to present our results to each other, which is a great opportunity to see more than just my own research.

Every day is a little different, but in general I wake up, grab a breakfast bar, and go into the lab to run experiments starting at 8am, 11, 12, or 2pm (there are 3 people working in the same lab as me, so we rotate who goes in at what time) and then I eat lunch and read journal articles. Afterwards, I go to the gym and practice volleyball, and play racquetball or basketball. In the evenings, I eat dinner and hang out with my friends. The best thing about living on campus is everyone is right close by. If you want to do something or hang out with a group of people, all you have to do is go next door and knock. There’s plenty to do in summer. In these past weeks, I have been canoeing, swimming at the local beach, played beach volleyball and gone bowling. On the weekends, I have gone camping, played Ultimate Frisbee, wiffle ball, and kickball. I also did research at Clarkson last summer. I went hiking at Azure, cliff jumping into a river, played capture the flag, and ate food at potlucks and ice cream socials. All of these are no more than 20 minutes away. For down time, I watch TV and movies, and play cards, video games and board games. Thanks for reading. 


A Day in the Life of Charlie McGuffey ’15

Hello, everyone.  My name is Charlie McGuffey.  I am a rising sophomore in the Clarkson Honors Program.  I am working on a double major in Computer Engineering and Computer Science.  I just recently added the Computer Science major, and I decided to stay up at Clarkson this summer to do research so that I could get a better understanding of the applications of the major.  I hope to learn about what sort of research goes on in the field of computer science and make sure that Computer Science is the right choice for me.

My research project for the summer is to implement and test a new logical search algorithm that my faculty mentor, Professor Christopher Lynch, discovered.  I am developing this algorithm using a programming language called Maude, and will be doing the majority of the testing of the algorithm on problems in my mentor’s field of study.  Approximately the first week and a half of my research involved learning and experimenting with Maude, and I have been working on the implementation of the algorithm since then.  My first accomplishment for the summer was the completion of an initial version of the algorithm that works with terms that have the same variable names, and I am currently working on adding additional functionality to the code.  After my first three weeks of research, I have learned a lot and am very happy with how my research has gone.

Of course, there’s more to life at Clarkson during the summer than research.  Summer is a great (if somewhat short) time up here in Potsdam, and there is plenty to do.  On campus, Frisbee, wiffleball, kayaking or canoeing on the Raquette River, and other outdoor activities are common.  Off campus, there are great opportunities for hiking or camping in the Adirondacks, going to the beach, taking a trip to Canada, or just spending time in Potsdam.

My average day starts when I wake up around 7:30.  I go downstairs and grab breakfast before firing up my computer.  I generally start work on my research between 8 and 8:30.  My professor doesn’t have a lab that I’m supposed to work in, so I can get my hours in whenever and wherever, but I usually try to stick to a regular schedule.  On some days, usually twice a week, I’ll have a meeting with my professor at 10:00 so that I can update him on my progress and he can give me any information I need or help me with any issues I’m having.  I generally take my lunch hour from 11:45 to 12:45, and usually have time to visit my friends before I have to go back to work.  Since we are all living in the townhouses, it is really convenient to go see each other and plan the group activities I mentioned earlier.  After I finish my afternoon of work around 4:30, I have an hour or two of free time before I make myself dinner.  After dinner, my friends and I have several hours of free time to play Frisbee or volleyball, go to the beach, or watch a movie before we go to bed and to start the next day.

If you have any questions about summer research, my project, the Honors Program, or Clarkson in general, feel free to send me an email at mcguffcj@clarkson.edu .  Have a great day and thanks for reading!

A Day in the Life of Rose Kennedy ’14

Hi my name is Rose Kennedy and I am a rising junior in the Honors Program.  I am spending part of my summer here at Clarkson University doing research with Wireless Underground Sensor Networks.  During the week I have been spending my time reading articles related to Wireless Sensor Networks and trying to contact different wireless sensor companies to get quotes to buy some sensors for my research.  Though this is only when I am working, which does take up a fair bit of the time, but when I am not working there is plenty to do.  On week days, mostly in the evening, I have gone kayaking/canoeing on the river and walking around on the trails in the back of the campus.  Also during some evenings I will play cards or watch movies with various groups of friends.  I love cooking and experimenting with different foods for dinner, whether I am cooking for myself or for others, which is why it is great that we live in the Townhouses which have kitchens.

The real fun is on weekends though.  I have already attempted to go hiking twice.  The first weekend we went on a great hike to Round Lake, about an hour drive, which was an 8.6 mile hike.  The second weekend I was going to go for a hiking/camping trip to Whiteface, but due to sickness, we had to abandon it.  This coming weekend, though, we will be attempting another camping trip to Marcy Dam, which has many hikes (at different levels) for everyone coming to enjoy.  We also have plans to go rock climbing eventually this summer.

A Day in the Life of Daniel J. Horn ‘15

Warmest regards and salutations, dear readers! My name is Daniel J. Horn and I am a rising Sophomore Chemical Engineering Major here at Clarkson.  As a member of the Clarkson Honors program, I have the privilege to share with you a glimpse into the crazy, hectic, and exciting life I lead. You may be wondering, why is he writing about his time during the summer, shouldn’t he be focusing on summertime fun and activities instead of school, and you’re certainly correct! But as I mentioned, I am a member of the Honors Program and I have the opportunity to participate in summer research right here at Clarkson! You’d have to be a fool to turn down summer research; I mean who doesn’t love free room and board in exchange for developing research skills and getting to see the campus in a more relaxed environment. Well, enough about why I’m here, let’s find out what my typical day looks like…

I generally roll out of bed at around 7:30 (8:00) each morning and begin my day by brushing my teeth, putting in my contacts, and showering. Once I’m dressed and my backpack is packed, I head downstairs to the kitchen to make breakfast; during the summer we are housed in the Townhouse Apartments which are luxurious compared to the regular residence halls. Breakfast usually consists of a fresh fruit smoothie, eggs and coffee. After the dishes are washed and the kitchen is cleaned I zip off to CAMP (that’s the Center for Advanced Materials Processing) to go into the lab. I’m working with the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department this summer and my research involves filtration membranes and differently shaped nanoparticles. I’m usually the first one to arrive since the graduate students like to sleep in, so I unlock the door and set up my computer on my desk. While my computer is waking up, (often it seems that I wake up faster) I go across the hall to the ChemE department office and catch up on the gossip with Carrie and Jean who are the department secretaries. After I’m caught up, I head back to the lab and my computer has started, so I take the chance to check my e-mail so that I’m aware of what’s going on in the world. Finally at around 9:30, Raju comes in and we begin research for the day. The morning is spent preparing silica solutions, analyzing their concentrations, and lately it has included trips to different areas of campus, namely the Chemistry stockroom and the CAMP machine shop to acquire supplies. At around noon, I head back to the Townhouse and have lunch. My roommate and I spend the lunch hour watching Millionaire until I head back to the lab. The afternoon is very similar to the morning, but often includes a visit with Dr. Baltus, my advisor, so that she stays in the loop of our “discoveries.” I usually leave for the day around 4:00, but that time varies depending on the workload.

After I get back from the lab, I change quickly and head to the Fitness Center across campus, usually work out for an hour or so and then head back. By now, it’s dinnertime! Since I have a kitchen, I enjoy showing off and honing my culinary abilities my making gourmet dishes and posting pictures to Facebook and Twitter via Instagram. Once the kitchen is tidy and the dishes have been put away I usually go socialize with friends or read. Most days I am able to get to bed by midnight which is a nice change from the later bedtimes I maintain during the academic session. My summer days are much less hectic and crazy than they are during the academic year, so I’ve started taking some time to indulge in some wonderful books as well as starting to prepare for next semester as an RA, CUSA Senator, and CUSA Committee Chair.

Well, that just about sums up a typical weekday for me, don’t worry, I do tend to have more fun and relax on the weekends, but as we know, the workweek should consist of work! Thanks for spending a day with me and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me!


Break in posts until Summer Research

Today starts the last week of classes before a week of final exams.  We are going to suspend new posts until Summer Research begins toward the end of May.  

A Day in the Life of Andrew Wegner ’15

Hello everyone!  My name is Andrew Wegner and I am currently a freshman honors student majoring in Finance and Accounting and minoring in Mathematics and Statistics.  Just about every weekday for me is very busy and I look forward to my weekends to relax and catch up on sleep.

A typical Monday for me consists of waking up around 7:45 am and leaving for Robro Dining Hall to eat breakfast before my 9am class.  From there I attend my Applied Statistics I lecture at 9 am, where I sit and listen to my professor reiterate the text book and then at the end of lecture he will ask “Did you get all of that?”  While pretty much everyone in the class will stare at him with a blank face as they have just woken up from sleeping during his lecture.  Luckily after Statistics I enjoy an hour break where I will do some homework or go into town to run some errands.

At 11am I have my Introduction to Information Systems class.  This class is actually pretty interesting.  You learn a lot about how to use SAP software that is used to expedite tasks in large corporations.  At times the class may seem monotonous, but I enjoy it.  I also enjoy the fact that the class has never lasted longer than forty-five minutes and it is suppose to be an hour and fifteen minute class.

From there I will get my lunch to-go from the Student Center Servery, usually a salad or stir-fry.  Then I will work on more homework while I eat lunch and until I have my Innovation and Entrepreneurship course at 1pm.  This is probably one of my favorite classes I have taken thus far as a freshman business student.  This class is a lot less reading and writing that is common in my other classes.  Instead it is more “hands-on,” and learning by doing type of class.  In this class I was also given the opportunity to start a company with four other freshman business students that we have recently formally filed for as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) with New York State.  We are all very excited by this!

After that class, usually I will then head to Calculus III at 2pm (sometimes I attend the 3pm lecture instead).  During this class I usually play on my phone and pretend to understand what the professor is saying.  I learn more through visual examples and “doing” rather than sitting and listening.  So don’t worry, I brush up on both my Calculus and Statistics while doing homework and through examples that I may practice in the book later in the day after lecture.  I do thoroughly enjoy my mathematics and statistics courses.  After Calculus III I usually head to the gym around 3:15pm to de-stress and take a mental break from school.  I usually return back to my room around 4:30pm.

From this point in the day onward until I go to bed at 11pm or midnight, my day may vary.  Sometimes I will have club meetings to go to, such as Clarkson Strategic Investment Club (CSIG), CEO Club, or Math Club.  I will fit in time to finish my homework for the day and also I usually meet with the four other members of our company for about one to two hours everyday to get some work done and discuss our strategy and goals.  I really do enjoy the fulfillment of starting and running a company with four other freshmen, even though we are still in the early stages.

If I am lucky, when I am finished with the day’s activities and homework, I like to read the latest autobiography or book.  Currently I am reading the autobiography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

Well that is about it!  My course load is definitely heavier compared to the average business student.  Reasons for this are that I have a double minor and the classes do not overlap per se with my major, however, I enjoy the challenge and the fact that it keeps me busy!  If you have any comments or questions for me I would be more than happy to answer them or just talk about my many experiences I have encountered thus far at Clarkson University!