Summer at BMC

Sun-soaked postcards from Bryn Mawr College

August 11, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard From: Lyntana Brougham ’16

Lyntana_Brougham1Name: Lyntana Brougham

Year: 2016

Major: Biology and English (double major)

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! I have had an amazing summer experience! I’ve been working in Dr. Mozdzer’s lab with Phragmites, an invasive reed. We are comparing the growth and success of four different genotypes under elevated levels of CO2 and/or Nitrogen. It has been a lot of hard work and long hours, but it has been a rewarding experience to visually see the differences in the plants and to analyze it in the data. Also, in our spare time I was able to visit and help collect data from 2 different field sites outside of PA. It was a pleasure to gain the experience of data collection in the field in addition to the greenhouse.

How I heard about my internship: I received an email from Dr. Mozdzer, my major adviser and the professor of two classes I had taken, asking if I’d like to do research in his lab over the summer.

Lyntana_Brougham2Why I applied for my internship: I had been looking for an on campus job for over the summer for several weeks when I received the mentioned email. My main goal for this summer was to explore one of my many career-related interests, and ecology was definitely high on that list. Working in Dr. Mozdzer’s lab seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain lab experience and get to know myself and my interests a little bit better.


August 8, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard From: Angie Koo ’15

angie_koo2Name: Angie Koo

Year: 2015

Major: Growth and Structure of Cities

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer I have been hosted by Tsuda College in Tokyo as I research Japan’s energy policies before and after 3.11, especially in regards to nuclear energy and renewable alternatives and the differences that may exist between the national and the local response. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown disasters of 3.11 have made Japanese citizens question their heavy reliance on nuclear energy as well as gathering support for transitioning to non-nuclear energy sources. For more than three years, this has been an ongoing debate within the Japanese government as they juggle issues of energy security, economic efficiency, environmental sustainability, and safety. Most recently, the Fukushima prefecture has committed to becoming 100% renewable energy by 2040 while the national government and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority have decided to allow nuclear plants to restart given that they pass safety checks and have the support of the host community after all of the nation’s nuclear reactors were put offline following 3.11.

angie_koo1With the support of Tsuda College’s staff, students, and professors, I have been exploring recent newspaper, magazine, and article publications written about Japan’s future energy mix and arranging meetings with a variety of individuals and organizations involved in this field. These include an NPO, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy, the Fukushima Prefectural Office, freelance journalists, newspaper staff, and present and former ministry officials. Their opinions and writings indicate that the energy debate is far from over and that while the national government appears to have already committed to resume its former nuclear plant practices, those advocating a non-nuclear route are focusing on initiating change from the bottom up. My meetings with these individuals have also allowed me to travel to the Fukushima area for one day and as I was driven through the disaster-struck areas, it is startling to see de-contamination work still being done near unevaluated houses and how the physical landscape clearly shows which areas were hit by the tsunami and which areas were not. In addition, Xue Jin, another Bryn Mawr student hosted by Tsuda College, and I were given the opportunity to present our preliminary findings to the Tsuda community and hear their feedback.

Thanks to Bryn Mawr College for funding this opportunity and to Tsuda College for hosting my stay; this has been a wonderful summer!

angie_koo3How I heard about my internship: I participated in a 360° course cluster last fall on Perspectives on Sustainability: Disasters and Rebuilding in Japan which not only provided the inspiration for my topic but is also the source of my funding this summer. I developed my research question and proposal under the guidance of Professor Hein who taught one of the three courses in the 360 and through her and Bryn Mawr’s connection to Tsuda College, I was able to realize this opportunity.

Why I applied for my internship: As a Cities major, Environmental Studies minor, and someone interested in Japanese society, I wanted to work on a project that would incorporate all these fields. This was also the initial reason I applied for the 360. The 3.11 disasters were one of the four events we studied in depth in our 360 but as it is still such an ongoing issue, I think there is still a great deal to be studied and understood about its effects and I wanted continue from where our 360 left off. In addition, this is an area of study that I hope to be involved in after I graduate and so this opportunity this work on sometime I am deeply interested in is invaluable.

August 7, 2014
by Miranda Canilang

Miranda Canilang ’17: That’s a wrap #AAIFF14


AAIFF14 staff with Co-writers/Co-stars of Chu & Blossom


My high school friend Sammie Ho & BMC’17 friend Jane Rossman volunteered at AAIFF14 Opening Night Asia Society

After 10 long days and nights of film, music,and  after parties and nearly 2 and a half months of preparation, my internship with Asian Cinevision for the 37th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is sadly coming to a close.

This week is wrap up week, which means staff reflects on what went well and what didn’t go well. For me, the social media manager, that means gathering statistics of the AAIFF Facebook, Twitter, and ConstantContact engagement.  It also means reporting on the teamwork and logistics of the festival.

AAIFF is completely run by unpaid college students and recent graduates. We work 3 days a week from 10:30AM to 5:30PM, many times overtime. AAIFF is actually the oldest Asian/Asian American film festival in the USA, but the Asian/Asian American film festivals out in California do much better than us. I think it has to do with demographics. To start, CAAMFest, San Diego Asian Film Fest, and the LA Asian Pacific Film Fest all have at least 7 year round paid staff. AAIFF only has 1. California is also the hub for Asian America and the film industry. About half of the AAIFF staff team speaks fluent Mandarin. While we are traditionally an Asian American film festival, New York still has a very Asian demographic. Therefore, it was a necessary skill at times when there were ticket buyers who could only speak Mandarin. We also benefitted from the Chinese and Taiwanese press.

While we all have our assigned “positions,” there is lots of overlap in work and I ended up doing other things like spreading posters around New York City and driving to the airport to pick up filmmakers. Our tangible presence via postcards and flyers really matters just as much as our online social media presence.

Our “reward” comes in the form of dinner covered by Asian Cinevision during the festival, a meager travel stipend, and lifelong friends and connections in the Asian American community. It was instant gratification to have my tweet I wrote through the Asian Cinevision Twitter account be retweeted and favorited by Angry Asian Man and other high profile Asian American activists.

Working for any nonprofit, especially an Asian American arts organization, really takes a certain level of dedication and passion that, many times, transcends money incentive. The way Chinese American rapper Awkwafina puts it, “The skinny ones are artists, it’s obvious they starving.”


August 7, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard from: Neha Kamran ’15

neha_kamran1Name: Neha Kamran

Year: 2015

Major: English

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! My internship’s almost over and I can’t believe how fast it went by! I met a lot of great people and learned a lot, and I know that I made the most of it. The connections I made here will hopefully help me a lot in the future, and I learned so many new skills. I now know how to code!

How I heard about my internship: I really wanted to work in advertising, and I’ve loved the D.C. area since I was a kid. Over winter break, I researched the top agencies here and Delucchi Plus caught my eye. It looked like such a wonderful place to work, and it’s proven to be just that.


August 5, 2014
by Joanna Birkner

Joanna Birkner ’16: A crash course in Turkish politics (Your guide to the upcoming Turkish Presidential Election)

joanna_birknerIt was a hot and lazy day in Bursa and I spent the afternoon watching TV and relaxing at home with my host family. For the first time I breached the subject of Turkish politics with them. The conversation was spurred by a nearly two-hour-long televised speech by current Prime Minister and Presidential nominee, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan has served as Prime Minister for more than a decade and he is considered Turkey’s most momentous leader since Ataturk. In the middle of Erdoğan’s impassioned speech, my host dad looked at me and said, “The most powerful man in the world is your president, Obama. Second is Tayyip (Erdoğan). Third is Putin. Remember that.”

I can’t defend my host father’s list, but I can attest to the forcefulness of Erdoğan’s leadership. While I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, living with two different host families on opposing sides of the Turkish political debate has given me valuable insight on the ever-increasing polarization of Turkish politics. This is an exciting and tense time to be in Turkey as the presidential election is just a week away.

What does this election determine?  

August 10 will mark Turkey’s first ever direct presidential election. In the past, parliament was in charge of choosing the president. The position has traditionally been ceremonial, with the president serving more as a figurehead than a leader — but that could change if Erdoğan is elected.  He intends to amend the constitution to give the president more executive authority as well as make more use of the presidential power to appoint judges and veto laws that are passed by parliament.

The winner needs at least 50% of the votes. If none of the candidates claim half the votes on Sunday, then a run-off election is set to be held on August 24. Many analysts believe that Erdoğan will win handily in the first round. The winner will serve a five-year term.

Who’s in the running?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the front runner. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) easily won local elections across Turkey in March. The media strongly favors Erdogan and his face seems to be everywhere—on television commercials and billboards, even minivans that zoom around the city blaring music and recordings of his voice. He is revered by religious conservatives and comes from humble roots in Istanbul. His Islamic agenda has antagonized and alienated the secular elite as well as young middle class liberals and nationalists. Many credit him with Turkey’s economic growth, but after the violent Gezi Park protests in 2013 that left nine dead, and a much-publicized corruption inquiry, Erdoğan is a controversial figure who is held responsible for Turkey’s extremely polarized political landscape.

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu is a former diplomat who represents the Republican People’s Party (CHP, center-left) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP, far-right). He was not well known to the Turkish public before this election but promises to offer a middle ground and seek compromise. If he is elected, Turkey would likely have a more tolerant and open future.

Selahattin Demirtaş, an ethnic Kurd, is the third nominee, representing the far-left People’s Democratic Party (HDP). He champions diversity and if elected would certainly work toward ending the disenfranchisement of minorities living within Turkey.  Although Kurds make up about 18% of Turkey’s population, political pundits estimate that Demirtas would only garner 5-10% of the vote. Sadly, much of the talk on the street about his candidacy is racially offensive because of his Kurdish background.


What is at stake?

This election represents a large cultural drift in modern Turkey. Under the AKP, rights of women will continue to deteriorate.  During a speech in 2010, Erdoğan asserted that he does not believe in gender equality and that men and women simply “compliment” each other. He believes that abortion is murder and has been trying to restrict abortions and other women’s reproductive rights since coming into office. He opposes co-ed college dorms and has repeatedly called on every Turkish woman to have at least three children. Meanwhile nearly 40% of all Turkish women have reported spousal abuse in their lifetimes and domestic violence has claimed the lives of 120 women since January of this year.

To drive home this point, Bülent Arınç, deputy prime minister and co-founder of the Erdoğan’s AKP party, gave a speech in Bursa at the end of July where he said, “[A] woman must not laugh in public … Where are our girls, who blush delicately, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their faces, our symbols of chastity?” Women on the Internet have responded by flooding Twitter with laughing photos and on August 8 there will be a laughing protest in Istanbul. With Erdoğan in power, Turkey will most likely continue down a more religiously-minded, conservative, and alarmingly authoritarian path. But there will be resistance to this path. My only hope is that this resistance comes with laughter instead of violence.

August 4, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard From: Meg Sumner-Moore ’15

meg_sumner_mooreName: Meg Sumner-Moore

Year: 2015

Major: Geology

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer I’m interning at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) under the mentorship of Dr. Brenda Buck in the Geosciences Department. I am analyzing local sources of naturally-occurring asbestos minerals using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with an energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) attachment. The SEM allows me to view very small asbestos fibers and particles, while the EDS analysis tells me how much of which atoms make up the particles. Using this information, I am compiling a database that includes all of the samples’ chemical data and measurements of the particles. The particle’s chemistry and aspect ratio between its length and width help inform about its toxicity to humans and its potential threat to populations nearby. This work is especially important because southern Nevada is very dry and dusty. Particles get into the air very easily and can be carried by wind and dust storms miles away from their original source. Many people also go out into the area on all-terrain vehicles, horses, bicycles, and on foot. This activity disturbs dust and soil causing people to end up with dirt and dust on themselves that they can then track into their cities and neighborhoods.

I have really loved working at UNLV under the advisement of Dr. Buck. I’ve learned not only a great deal about asbestos, but also about conducting controversial scientific research and the experience of being a female scientist in a field dominated by men. Everyone I’ve met and worked with at UNLV has been very helpful, encouraging, and kind. I’ve also enjoyed exploring some of the nearby geology in the state park Valley of Fire, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon. In my last few weeks here I will wrap up my sample analysis and data collection, gathering as much information as I can before leaving. I plan to use this data for my senior thesis and a scientific paper for publication.

How I heard about my internship: As someone majoring in geology and hoping to pursue work within the health field, I was excited to learn from a professor last year about medical geology — a little niche in the field of geology concerning the impact our natural environment has on our health. I began researching more about the subject and came across an interview with my advisor, Dr. Buck, about her work in medical geology. I contacted Dr. Buck to learn more from someone doing this type of research first hand. Dr. Buck was very helpful and gracious enough to answer all of my questions and provide me with more resources about the subject. When I asked what research she would be conducting this summer and if she could use the help of an undergraduate student, she immediately told me about the asbestos project and offered me a position as a Research Assistant for the summer.

Why I applied for my internship: Although I have a great interest in the health field, I wanted an internship that would better support my undergraduate academics in geology. Furthermore, I wanted to gain more experience in geology outside of the classroom to learn how I may be able to fuse together my two interests of health and geology in my future. Most importantly, I felt like I had found someone (Dr. Buck, my advisor for the summer) in a field I’m keenly interested in, who was supportive and inspiring me before I had even met her, and I really wanted to work with and learn from her.

August 1, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard From: Rachel Hager ’15

rachelmethanechambersName: Rachel Hager

Year: 2015

Major: Biology

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! I’m spending the summer doing research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Maryland. Thanks to funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Horizons Research Internship, I was able to continue my research at SERC on the effects of the Phragmites australis invasion on the biogeochemistry of wetlands. The aggressive plant species Phragmites australis, invades native wetland vegetation in North America, changing the biogeochemical processes of carbon, soil organic matter decomposition, and soil and water chemistry.

My current research focuses on the influence of the Phragmites invasion on carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions within the global carbon cycle. Methane, the second most abundant trace greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, is over 20x more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping radiation. I’m using methane fluxes, soil incubations, pore water analysis, and extrapolated models to determine the effect of the Phragmites invasion on the biogeochemical processes of carbon.

rachelsoilcoreFor methane flux measurements, I place transparent stackable chambers on top of collared vegetation plots, then take several gas samples throughout a two hour time-span to calculate the production of methane over time. I also create soil incubations from soil cores in different vegetation zones to examine the effect of belowground bacteria on methane production.

My internship has lead to a wonderful summer full of muddy times in the marsh complemented by cooler times inside the lab learning a lot about how to use a wide array of machines to analyze all of my samples. I’m excited to present my findings from this summer in a presentation at SERC in a few weeks and at the Bryn Mawr Summer Science Poster Session in September!

How I heard about my internship: I initially heard about my internship at SERC two years ago as a undergrad student researcher in Tom Mozdzer’s lab at Bryn Mawr. I was an REU intern at SERC last summer, when I fell in love with investigating the effects of invasive species on the biogeochemistry of marshes. This summer, I returned to SERC as a research intern through funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Horizons Research Internship program.

rachelco2Why I applied for my internship: I worked in Tom Mozdzer’s lab at Bryn Mawr for an academic year before spending last summer as a research intern at SERC. My experience doing research with Tom Mozdzer at Bryn Mawr and at SERC last summer spurred my interest in pursuing research involving the invasion of non-native species on wetlands. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity to return to SERC and spend my summer immersed in the biogeochemistry of marshes!

July 30, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard From: Leqi Liu ’17

Leqi_Liu1Name: Leqi Liu

Year: 2017

Major: Physics and Math (prospective)

What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer, I am doing summer research in Professor Xuemei May Cheng’s group. In our lab, there are five undergraduate students – Alena Klindziuk, Yilun Tang, Ji Yoon Ahn, Zhuyun Xiao and me, and two graduate students Xiao Wang and Xuzhao Chai. A typical day of us is like this: get up at 7 a.m.; prepare our food for lunch; get to our lab at 9 a.m.; start to make samples, do measurements and analyze the data we get. Our lab is located at the basement of Park Science Building. We have one giant clean room with Sputtering system and Photolithography facilities in it, a room for Atomic Force Microscopy(AFM), and a room, shared with Geology Department, for Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM). One main goal for our research is to analyze the magnetic properties of certain nanomaterials. We use our Sputtering system to sputter different films of different thickness, use photolithography to make patterns on the sample. Then we use XRD and AFM t o identify our samples and use VSM to analyze the magnetic properties of the sample. Right now, my group and I are in Argonne National Lab in Chicago. This time, we want to use X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism(XMCD) to verify and have a deeper understanding for the conclusion Professor May Cheng got before! Hope we will get some new interesting results for the characteristic of Pt film on Y3Fe5O12! This summer is my first try of serious science research. The whole research period is much longer than I thought it would be. It takes long time for us to make everything work at the first stage and even longer time to get an ideal sample. Then, when we measure the sample and analyze the data, results could end up being totally unexpected on our way of catching the tail of the truth.

Leqi_Liu2How I heard about my internship: From upperclassmen and the Bryn Mawr website.

Why I applied for my internship: I like the quote from Sleepless in Seattle: “ What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?” I take it as my motto when exploring life. I applied for this summer research because I wanted to give myself a chance to figure out if science research is my true love.


July 29, 2014
by Alyssa Banotai

A Postcard From: Lisa Lin ’15

Lisa_Lin1Name: Lisa Lin

Year: 2015

Major: Psychology

What’s going on? We’d love to hear how your internship is going! This summer, I received a Science Horizons internship to conduct an independent research project at the University of Oxford. Specifically, I am working in the Attention Group at the Oxford Centre of Human Brain Activity ( My project is looking at the neural mechanisms of visual working memory (i.e. our cognitive ability to memorize and manipulate visual images for a few seconds) through the use of EEGs. More specifically, I am studying the involvement of low-frequency oscillations associated with a brain structure called the hippocampus in visual working memory. This project interests me, as the hippocampus is often believed to not be involved in working memory. My project will parallel ongoing research in patients with hippocampal electrodes for monitoring epileptic seizures. The combination of results from a clinical and non-clinical population will contribute to our understanding of the role of the hippocampus in visual working memory.

Lisa_Lin3Currently in my project, I am at the stage where I have finished data collection and am now beginning to analyze the results. So far I have learned how to properly work with EEG equipment and how to process the data using MATLAB. MATLAB is a computer program that features an interactive environment for the use of data visualization and analysis. My next step will be to put my data through some analysis scripts that will allow me determine if my results are significant.

How I heard about my internship: I spent my junior year abroad at the University of Oxford. Research experience was a major component in my decision to attend this university. Oxford is well known as being an esteemed research institution and I found that my research interests coincided with several ongoing projects being done in the Experimental Psychology department. In January, I spoke to my personal tutors here (i.e. similar to Deans who are specialized in your given field) and they advised me to email every lab I was interested in. I had only started sending out hopeful emails when a lab that I was most interested in returned my email and offered me some volunteer work. As a volunteer, I was able to learn how to collect EEG and behavioral data and assisted in data collection on multiple projects. In April, I asked the primary investigator (Mark Stokes) if I could stay over the summer and he suggested I take on an independent project that he had wanted to conduct but hadn ’t the time to yet. I eagerly said yes. Later he offered to sponsor me for the Science Horizons internship.

Lisa_Lin2Why I applied for my internship: After graduating from Bryn Mawr, my goal is to enter a PhD program in Behavioral Neuroscience. To accomplish this goal, I’ve been trying to gain as much research experience as possible in the field of Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience. The Neuroscience graduate program at the University of Oxford is one of my top choices for PhD programs so the opportunity to partake in a Neuroscience project at Oxford this summer was perfect!

July 28, 2014
by Joanna Birkner

Joanna Birkner ’16: Türkiye’den merhabalar!

My CLS advanced Turkish class and Halil Hoca (Teacher)

My CLS advanced Turkish class and Halil Hoca (Teacher)

Hello from Turkey! I am now at the halfway point of my State Department Critical Language Scholarship in Bursa, Turkey. It’s hard to believe that I have been living in Bursa for a month, but as they say in Turkish -zaman su gibi akıp geçiyor– time is passing like water.  While I’m sad to think about leaving this city that has quickly become my home, I am proud of the progress I have made with my Turkish.

I came into the CLS program with good Turkish conversation skills but very little formal grammar training. Now, most of my daily Turkish classes consist of debates and in depth discussions about social issues such as immigration, religion, and politics in Turkey and the United States. It is satisfying to be able to understand the jokes made by my Turkish peers and to pick up on some of the nuances of this beautiful language. But, the most rewarding thing is being able to engage in conversations with Turks on issues I really care about.

Defying gender roles as a lady sultan!

Defying gender roles as a lady sultan!

I’d like to devote the rest of this blog post to discussing the role of women in Turkey. Unfortunately, sexism is a part of daily life in Bursa. I wear long skirts or pants every day, but still get heckled and sometimes touched by men on the street. Even my Turkish grammar book is riddled with examples of sexism (one subjunctive exercise shows a slightly larger woman who says I wish I was thinner so…men would talk to me, I could wear cute clothes, etc.) Last week, our group went to a BursaSpor soccer game that was 98% male. We had to leave at half time because a colossal fight of 40 or 50 men broke out. Why did they fight? Because there were women in the audience and some of the men were yelling derogatory chants our way. Others felt like they needed to defend us and began screaming and shoving. Soon it became a mosh pit of angry Turkish men.

Being abroad can be one of the best ways to find out which identities you hold the dearest. Never have I been more proud of my identity as a Mawrtyr. Life in Turkey is very different from living in the beautiful Bryn Mawr bubble, where our College newspaper calls for Death to the Patriarchy (D TO THE P!) and it is perfectly normal to engage in conversations about gender, inclusion, and equality. That is not so much the case in Turkey.  These sorts of open expressions on gender and sexism are not entirely welcome.  In fact, in the Turkish language, there is no differentiation between the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’. Turkish family culture traditionally tends to be a more patriarchal (the founder of the Republic is Ataturk “father of the Turkish” for goodness sake!).  Men are typically head of the households while women usually perform all domestic duties. Little boys are often treated like princes, while young girls are taught to be quiet, modest and of service. Of course, every family differs and I have been fortunate to live twice with families where females have a high degree of respect—even though they still do all of the household work.  On the plus side, Turkey has a very high rate of female literacy and openly welcomes women in the workforce.

Before the fight broke out at the football match

Before the fight broke out at the football match

I’d like to close this post by observing that of the 14 women CLS participants in Bursa; three are either current students or graduates of a Seven Sisters College. I am proud to be part of this statistic. Living in Bursa has put me more in tune with the challenges that face women all over the world, as well as helped me better appreciate the privileges that growing up in the United States and attending Bryn Mawr have afforded me. ­