Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week 1 for Amy was amazing!!!

Hi all! For those of you who don't know me yet, my name is Amy Hopkins and I am taking part in the Summer Research Program at EPFL. Briefly, I just graduated with my BS in Bio/BME from Tufts and will be continuing my work there as a PhD student in the fall. I am planning to work with Dr. David Kaplan at Tufts on silk as a biomaterial. Here at EPFL, I am characterizing different polymers micelles for drug encapsulation.

Where to start?! This week has been absolutely fabulous for me - how can I complain about copious amounts of sun, water, mountains, chocolate, and cheese? Not to mention the good company . . . (I should let you know that #1 - I am VERY fond of the outdoors; especially hiking/running in the mountains and was very excited to find my labmates eager to get out of doors also; and #2 - I'm quite a biomed/med nerd that could go on and on about my research . . . I apologize in advance!)

Anyway, I will begin by introducing my lab a bit. I am working in the Hubbell lab, which has turned out to be a dream come true. The atmosphere is quite laid back yet everyone is so passionate about their work and contributing their research to science. I have been inspired by the collaboration that takes place - it seems as if people just know when to meet and what to talk about in order to get things done - often over coffee and pastries it seems, which I'm growing quite fond of. Another unique quirk to the Hubbell-Schwartz dyad (their labs are physically right next to each other) is the ubiquity of couples. Not only are the professors married, but so are at least two other pairs in the lab . . . as a career-oriented female with my own familial aspirations, I find it inspiring that scientist couples can find themselves at home at EPFL.

As for my research, I have completed some of my first experiment already and am excited to finish it up this up coming week. I used four different polymers to encapsulate the anti-inflammatory dexamethasone and tested them for their efficiency in uptake and release. The idea is that the PEG-PPS polymers differ only in their hydrophobic side chains that soak up the hydrophic drug. Hopefully, I will find a polymer that has high encapsulation efficiency and slow release profile. I am also experimenting with a couple different encapsulation methods . . . we'll see what this week's results reveal!!

It has been so amazing to get to know everyone participating in SRP at EPFL this summer. There is no other experience like getting to know a group of people from 14 different countries. We are all learning so much about each other and the places we come from that couldn't be learned from a text book or infomercial. I find myself curious about everyone's language . . . school . . . home life . . . hobbies - the world is an amazingly diverse place.

So far, we have all enjoyed social events such as La Festivale de Cite in Lausanne, the Montreaux Jazz Festivale, jogging along Plage de Vidy and Lac Lemon, and hiking to Rochere de Naye. Personally, I have really enjoyed the outdoor activities and can't get enough of the scenery. Below are a few pictures of our outings - enjoy!!

Some of us at the beach on Lake Geneva across from EPFL!! (L) Lake Geneva from Montreaux at the Jazz Festival (R)

Below are concerts at La Festivale de Cite (L) and the Jazz Festival in Montreaux (R)

A silly pic of some of us at the Montreaux Jazz Festival (L) and the vineyards I ran through in Lutry (R)

Me on the hike up to Rochere de Naye (L) and the view from the top of Lake Geneva and the French Alps (R).


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