The following is an excerpt from the blog of Jimmy Huang, one of the recent Lincoln High School graduates who was on the UCSF iGEM team. The blog describes his experiences at the end-of-competition international jamboree held at MIT. Jimmy is currently a freshman at UC Davis.
MIT, Kendall Square, Boston, Massachussetts
So, most of you, if not all, know about my summer internship at UCSF. In one sentence, it was a science project that we present at MIT in competition against teams from all around the world. This was obviously a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I wouldn't want to miss, even though it took all of Senior Year Summer. I missed out on a lot of social events with friends that mean a lot to me, but another part of me is glad that I did go through with this internship because the experience was unbelievable. The competition was on November 3~4, 2007, but we had to get there on the 2nd to practice our presentation.
November 2nd, 2007
So on Friday night, November 2nd, I basically had to rush out of Davis after Chem Lecture which ended at 6pm. During that rush, I forgot to pack my camera... So this journal entry is pretty much.. picture-less... I had to skip the entire Friday; which I have 3 classes, a Chem Discussion, WLD 57, and Chem Lecture. But I guess it's fine, I don't do much in those classes anyways. So I drove back from Davis and got home in SF at 8pm~ish because of traffic. I packed up some more clothes, ate dinner, and drove to SFO at 9:30pm. My flight was at 11:05pm on American Airline. The flight was approximately 5 hours + another 3 hours because of the time zone difference in Boston. So we arrived in Boston at 7:30am. We didn't sleep once we got to the Marriott, but instead, we practiced for the entire day. We went out to eat at some chinese place and had crazy hot pot stickers for dinner, and we went back to the Marriott around 11pm to sleep. The room I was staying with consisted of Alex Ng, and Eric Meltzer. We stayed up talking about the most randomest things and went to sleep at about 2~3am.
UCSF's presentation was at 4:30pm, but we still had to wake up at 8:15am to go over to the Jamboree center to socialize and 'schmooze.' There were quite a few teams there, 54 in total. Teams came from all over the world, lubljana, china, tokyo, korea, russia, england, paris, and more. A few note-worthy names must be entered in this journal to get some 'ooh's and 'ahh's obviously; Harvard, MIT, Brown, Princeton, Paris, UC Berkeley and many other top schools world-wide. There weren't that many people that were interested or asked UCSF many questions pre-presentation during socializing hour. One guy asked us while we were setting up our poster which team we were, and we responded nicely that we're the UCSF team and lo-and-behold, the guy smirkly says, "Oh, nevermind." Then curtly turns around and walks away. I don't even remember which team he was on. What a douche-bag. Each team's presentation would only be alloted 20 minutes in a 30 minute time-frame. And UCSF's presentation slot was at 4:30 ~ 5:00pm. I have to say, I was really, really nervous presenting in front of a whole lecture hall full of people. I didn't have much emotion in my talk, but I didn't slip up or say the wrong thing, so I guess it went fine.
Alex and I stood proudly next to our Poster and we were bombarded with people interested in our project after the presentation. Teams apparently were talking about our 'Synthesome' and were spreading the fact that the UCSF team was composed of Post-High Schoolers. I guess they were mainly interested and drilled us with questions because they wanted to see how well we would measure up without grad schooling, or even undergraduate schooling. I was proud to be acknowledged as a note-worthy contender in a competition filled with graduate students and post-docs from 'name' schools. Alex and I met plenty of people that were really impressed with our project and even tried to get us to go to their graduate schools. I even got interviewed by a press lady. Needless to say, I was very glad I did this project during the summer at this point. Around 7:30pm, poster talk was over, but we still had people flocking to ask questions, so Alex and I basically continued talking and explaining our poster till it was Finalists Announcement time.
At 8:30pm, something shocking happened. Instead of 5 finalists, there were 6! So the Finalists were, in alphabetical order:
- Berkeley UC
- Slovenia (Lujbljana, last years winner)
We beat out almost all of the brand name schools. Well, we did beat out all the 'name' schools in USA. Harvard, MIT, nor Brown made it into the Finalists!
What do you do when you're happy? You go out for Dinner! Or if Dinner isn't a suitable choice, you go out for the best (or most expensive) Ice Cream possible! And so we went to Toscanini's. They had a huuuge assortment of Ice Cream. I'd say it was pretty good, considering it was 3.75$ for 1 scoop. Wendell Lim decided to treat the Lujbljana team. mMmm' The actual plan was to get them drunk, hahaha. jkjk.
So after Ice Cream, the adults, Nili, Wendell, and David went to the Pub while the rest of the actual 'team' went back to the Marriott. I think we slept around 1 or 2am again, but there was that 1hour daylight savings thing, so we gained an extra hour of sleep! Nice!
November 4th, 2007
Today is the day the Finalists re-present their work in front of an even Larger group! The biggest auditorium available at MIT. Yikes! We had to wake up before 8am and walk over there before 8:30am... Ugh. Too Early. But because of the comfortable ass Marriott bed, it actually wasn't that bad. I actually got up! So we went over there, and basically listened to the other 5 finalists present, then present our work, again. I think I did much better than the first time, this time around. At least I got some emotion into it without freezing up. The second time is always easier than the first.
After everyone presented, it was a picture-taking frenzy!! Everyone wanted to take photos with everyone! I even got an interview in. I hope I did pretty well in that, because it was all suspense-filled and I had to talk about how I got interested in iGEM. It only took 1-take instead of a billion. That James Brown guy was pretty nice, he was very jealous of the fact that I was a high school student, basically, young. He was the guy that designed the iGEM logo apparently, so that's quite a feat. in itself!
Peking University won! I am actually content with Peking winning because their team was well-rounded, as well as friendly, and their project was completely completed with all of their intended goals working! They did a HopCounter and one other project that I forget at the moment, but I'm glad they won. Actually, I don't mind if any of the other 5 teams won either. It took a lot to even make it to the Finalists! Congratulations Everyone. It was really great to meet you guys.
I hope to see her again maybe at another iGEM Jamboree if not at a Synthetic Biology meeting of sorts.
Thanks for reading guys. I know there's a lot of text, and more than likely, a lot of mistakes in chronological sense, but if you read through it, I <3 You. =*]
Monday, September 10th, 2007
Subject: More Updates? Time: 8:43 pm. … I have to practice for my preview-presentation tomorrow at UCSF Mission Bay for Sergio and Andrew! Yikes, I still haven't practiced.. That much at least. I can say that I got my script finalized today. It'll probably get some constructive criticism, but I'm fine with that from Sergio and Andrew. They're really cool for 'adults.' Haha, then again, they're not super old for adults either.
I guess, from my summer experience, I can say that I want to go to graduate school. It'll probably be a LONG, LONG, road, but then again, if I enter the industry world of Biotechnology, I'll have a PHd. I've been told that one can not lead a research group without a PHd. It's not impossible, but it's rare, really rare. I'm talented and motivated, or I'd like to say that and have others see that in me, but I can not say that I'm gifted with the art of persuasion nor have the uncanny ability to lead. This, is but once again, tentative to change seeing as that I'm only but 17 and haven't even had my first class at a genuine college. I hope I'll like school as much as to go through another 8, maybe even 10 more years... Haha, dream big Jimmy, for as long as LiveJournal exists, this entry will be here for me to reflect upon as well as for others to read, if they care. …