Monday, June 29, 2009


In class today I gave my group presentation on the studies done by Henry Harlow on Discovering Love. He tested the relationship between an infant and a mother. He used baby monkeys and two fake mothers, one made of wire that contained food for the infant and one that was made out of cloth to provide comfort. The results to all the studies done under different situations was that the baby monkeys preferred the comfort over a necessity like a milk, food.
My group was one of the first to present so far and I am excited to see what the other groups have got to teach me about their studies.
Also in class we have started to read a new book called Thinking in Pictures which is a book about an autistic women.
So far in class we have learned about different illnesses and challenges people go through. It makes me feel in some way more grateful and lucky to have a life that's not as nearly corrupt.


Today, the unique thing about my day was the homework I had to do. We read articles from the reading packing that we had to buy for the class and I thought it was all very interesting. We had to read two articles; one about cheating and one about consumerism and creativity. Here are my thoughts.

“’What Horace Mann programs you to think is that your purpose in life is getting into an Ivy League school,’ says another former student, who graduated from the school a few years back

It was easy for me to relate to the stories of these kids who faced pressure like no other in their high schools. I don’t come from a rich family and I don’t go to a fancy private school but I do face pressure as these students do. They talk about how they feel the need to cheat, whether it is because they feel like they have to level the playing field or because they feel like they need to get good grades. I face similar pressures and temptations.

In our school, it is not hard to succeed. El Cerrito is not a great school and it comes from a poor school district, meaning that the kids in that school do not care and do not strive to succeed. The competition to do well is not as cutthroat as the competition in these private schools. However, the pressure to get A’s on tests and in the class is very similar. Because it’s not a very good school, I have to succeed or else it must mean I’m worth less than everyone else that does well in harder schools. This is the train of thought that I usually follow during the school year, but now that I think about it closely, that’s not true.

I try hard, I work hard, I strive hard. My effort is worth everyone else’s and I didn’t cheat to get where I am today. That makes me worth it, according to the moral ethics that should be in place today. However... the article is right. People have unfair advantages; people do things to get ahead and usually, it works. Usually, these people get away with it and they get further in life, according to our materialistic ideals. What does this say of our society? What does that mean for those that can’t afford advantages or don’t feel right about cutting corners? What does that mean for humanity? Where is our morality?

“It’s not in the marketers’ best interest for consumers to think too much, too well, or too critically about their products.”

After reading this second article about consumerism and creativity, I thought about the quality of life in the children today. When I was a child, not so long ago, I feel like society was just shifting between good old generalized legos and sets of legos with instructions. I worry about the future generations.

However, this correlates with the other article. If the younger generations now are losing the ability to be creative because of toys available to them and if they’re feeling the pressure now to have the new toys then what does that mean for their future? Won’t they continue in their search for the newest “toys”? Won’t that search for materialistic satisfaction follow them into their adult life? If it does, this will fuel the temptation to cheat and get ahead in life. It makes sense because they feel like they have to do what they have to do in order to get what they need to be satisfied. It’s a cycle; once they get what they need to be satisfied, they’ll get tired of it and they’ll be in the search for the next new thing they need to be satisfied. Once again, people will try to cheat and get a head of the game so that they can feel satisfied again by getting the new object of their desire. Advertisers must be making it big, even in the economy we have today.

I've thought about a lot tonight because of these readings. These are the types of things we learn about in psychology.

Good night.

Cheating Culture

In class we learned many new things in class, our TA Vicky presented a power point on "Your brain on drugs". I was surprised to see that I knew most of the material being presented because In had previously learned it in my physiology class. That I found very ironic because throughout the year my physiology teacher continuously changed, I had about four different teachers that year. That was when I got excited, maybe I did know just as much as anyone else, even throughout all of the struggles to try to learn in my physiology class, I knew material that was being presented by a college student. I guess it was pretty basic stuff, but it made me confident in my education. After Vicky's presentation a few student group presented their project. Team BAMT presented on Feminine, Masculine, or both? I found that some of the character traits that they labeled as a female trait was not entirely true, and you often see this stereotype everywhere in society. Next was Mercedes' group, the orange oranges, their presentation was on discovering love. They showed us how infants are said to be connected to their mother through compassion and love, instead of food necessities.

I especially liked today's homework because it was explaining how people cheat to get the big money in life, which goes back to my title, Cheating Culture. As I was reading I found that most students going to prestigious schools often cheat their way through, and I felt it was unfair to those students who work hard to get somewhere in life. They also went on to say how because most of those students go to private schools, their parents have the money to get them tutors, and have the power to change hings so that things are more advantageous to their kids. They even go as far as getting medical approval that their child has learning disabilities, so that they could have extra time during the SATs. I feel that these kids have all the luck, they get to go to excellent schools and they don't have as many struggles as kids living in poverty. It is so unfair that we have to work extra hard to try to excel, when they can just cheat their way up. I don't think all of them do, but the statistics in the book were pretty high. I feel that maybe that's why it's so hard for students without these advantages to turn their life around, because they see no point. That is basically what I see around my school, they don't care because they believe that they can never compete with students that get to attend private schools. I really connected to this reading because of these reasons, I am one of those students who have to work extra hard to reach for a higher education, but I don't have my parent's money to get me personal tutors and bribe my way up. I do it all on my own, without cheating because I want to know that I did it sincerely without cutting corners.

Thinking In Pictures

Recently, we started reading Thinking In Pictures as a class assignment. After reading The Quiet Room, I figured this would be a good book as well. The first 20 pages were fairly okay and interesting but then after that, I found myself skimming through the pages. You may be wondering why? Well, for numerous reasons.

I am not a text book kind of person. I hate reading text books because it is all information and contains nothing that I can emotionally connect to. This book contains a lot of information about autism but the author, Temple, does not describe her life living with autism. This brings me back to what Ms. Kim told us to do in our college essays, "Show. Don't tell." I find that this will be a really good advice to Temple because what I get from the book is that she is telling, not showing what life is like for her. Not only that but there is quite a lot of information to absorb and I find it overwhelming. This information can be found in text books, and like I said, I am not fond of text books.

Reading The Quiet Room also added more reasons for my dislike for Thinking In Pictures. In The Quiet Room, I felt emotionally attached to the book so it grabbed my attention. It came to the point that I could not even put down the book. The main difference is the personal account of the book. Lori was able to show what she went through which helped the reader comply with her own experiences. In Temple's book, she is just generalizing and teaching the reader what autism is. 

What I found out about myself is that I like it when I can emotionally connect to the experiences in the book, I am more likely to continue reading it. Maybe this is why I despise reading text books. I have learned something about myself. 

First Day Of School

Today was really different. I woke up at about 7:45 which was kind of early since I have been waking up at around 11 these past couple of weeks. At first I went to go eat breakfast in the cafeteria, and I had just realized that I didn't have a course packet. I then went to my class with two of my other floor mates and the media director said, "You must be wrong, there are no classes here". So after going all the way to the 14th floor wondering what we should do. We then saw the RA Ann and we talked to her and went to go get some course packets at the information center. That's when we found out the class was originally at the Sciences Library where we originally came from. Well the class itself was pretty interesting, yet kind of repetitive. Throughout the whole day the asked us to write down our action plan like 5 different times. We got to know our classmates more and learned what they wanted out of this course however. We got to do fun activities and think through scenarios and act like real leaders, and lawyers, and there was a lot of debating. It was pretty lively, and when I got out of the class I felt free! I made new friends and we went to eat and kicked it together all day, it was great. I hope that tomorrow will be even better, and I hope I get more sleep tonight.

What I learned today: Definition of a leader: Someone who is passionate about doing what they think will benefit not only themselves but others as well. A leader is also someone who influences others and whom people like to follow.

The Ice Breaker

Today I started my class which is Leadership & the Civil Rights Movement. I have really great smart and intelligent teachers. There's a funny thing about them, they both live in Oakland. So it shows how its such a small world, I leave my neck of the woods to experience new people and I still end being taught by someone near me. Also one of my teachers Branice teaches at the Oakland School of Arts and my other teacher Kristian teachers at a school in Hayward.

When I leave this summer program, I feel like I'm going to leave with so much more information than I know now. I'm learning the songs that the Civil Rights participants song during the movement. I learned that older African-Americans during that time tried to keep what was happening from the children because they didn't want the children becoming a victim. And keeping secrets kind of hurt some of the children in a certain way.Lastly I learned about who has the power in certain situations. Example children control the economic power because they get their parents to by a lot of different things like an iPod and computers.

I just want to let everyone know that I'm having a great time and thanks for this opportunity to come to Brown.

Next Time....

Ok, next time I will read the other blogs first so I don't title mine the exact same way!!

Nature, Nurture, DNA

For some reason, I can never get more than six or seven hours of sleep. That said, I groggily dragged myself out of bed this morning to meet Dennis and Ali at the Ratty—the cafeteria that just opened this morning.

Then, I went of to my morning lab session. We began the first part of our three day lab in which we will create a recombinant plasmid, grow bacterial cultures containing the recombinant DNA, and then test whether the desired plasmid is actually contained in the cultures.

Today, we did the first step, creating the recombinant plasmid. To do this, we first did a restriction digest of BamhI and HindIII on two separate samples of plasmid DNA, pAMP and pKAN. Next, we incubated this mixture for thirty minutes. Meanwhile, we prepared the agarose gel. When our sample was finished incubating, we added loading dye to the samples, and loaded the samples into the gel. We then ran electrophoresis for about thirty minutes. When the gel was finished running, we took it into the UV photography machine, and captured the DNA's movement through the gel. This was done in order to be certain that the restriction digest had continued to completion. Next, we put the remaining samples of the restriction digest into a sixty five degree heater in order to kill the BamHI and HindIII. Finally, we combined the pKAN and pAMP, and mixed in DNA ligase so that the fragments will combine.

Also, last weeks lab reports were passed back and I received check pluses in both practical applications and theoretical understanding. This was especially pleasing because I've been having a lot of trouble understanding the theory behind DNA manipulation.

In the afternoon session, we went over an article we had been assigned to read which dealt with epigenetics—the link between genes and environment. This was particularly fascinating. Often in science, you hear the debate between nature and nurture. Are some people born more intelligent, more athletic or healthier? Or do environmental factors such as nutrition or a mother's education level determine this? After reading the article, a clear answer resounds—both.

Phenotypic differences between individuals are often caused by differences in the genetic code of individuals. However, genes exist that are not polymorphic—genes that have only one possible arrangement. How does one account for phenotypic differences here? The answer lies in gene regulation. Environmental factors can determine the amount of methylation in genes. For instance, ninety nine percent of non-smokers show partial to complete methylation of the CYP1A1, while only thirty three percent of heavy smokers show methylation. Thus, smoking increases the expression of this gene. Also, drug resistance, which is coded for on MDR1 gene, varies between people. However, there is no polymorphism of this gene. The amount of methylation of this gene determines drug resistance.

Small portions of RNA called micro RNA (miRNA) act as gene regulators. miRNA bonds to mRNA, which carries the information for protein translation, creating dsRNA. However, genes code for the automatic destruction of dsRNA. Thus, by creating small pieces of RNA, the cell is able to stop the production of certain proteins. The amount of miRNA shows a clear correlation with the level of gene expression. Thus, levels drug resistance are also determined by miRNA. Interestingly, miRNA was only discovered in 2007, so the study of this RNA and its regulation is very young. Who knows what discoveries will come next.

Once class was over, I back to my dorm room to catch up on my sleep. Then, it was on to meeting with Ms. Kent, dinner at a different cafeteria that just opened up, and finally studying in the P5 lounge.

Tomorrow, I will be transforming the genetic make-up of E. coli.

Until then,
Joseph Young

Brunch and Wellesley

Wellesley Admission's office


The gang at brunch.

Sunday was just as busy as Saturday, starting with a brunch at the beautiful Maddox Alumni House. We were so honored to have many Brown "stars" attend, from admissions officers to the assistant to Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown. Robin Rose and Karen Sibley, who are longtime supporters and admirers of the program were also there. After brunch, our student, Meuy Chien Saephan gave an interesting presentation about some of thepast illuminaries of Brown and Ms Kronenberg spoke about our connection to Brown. Tehani Collazo, the Director of Education Outreach spoke of her journey to Brown and had the students participate in an activity in which they pondered where they wished their lives to be in 5-10-20 years and then several shared their reflections.

In the mid afternoon a group of us headed off to see Wellesley College, the alma mater of both Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright. The students were interested in seeing not only an all womens college but a small college as Wellesley has a student body of 2000, much smaller than the Boston schools we had just visited. The campus is lush and gorgeous and the architecture splendidly medieval.

Today Ms Kronenberg and I visited Carlas's biology class where she was being certified for CPR and then off to see Mercedes present in her Intro to Psychology class. She and her group did a great job illustrating the work of Henry Harlow who did the research with the rhesus monkeys to determine if infants are attached to their mothers more for nourishment or for comfort. You will have to ask Mercedes for the answer! I met with all the students at 5 and they are back into their routine. Tiffani and Zack had a great first day. Tiffani said "it is so much more than I expected." And Zack said he is "having a blast."

Tomorrow my mission is to find a laundromat in the neighborhood! Keep you posted...

CPR & Megan Dawson

I have to say that taking a CPR class was so much fun! Being certified is also great, now I know that I am prepared in case of an emergency. Apart from taking a CPR class in the morning I got the unique opportunity to meet a Brown Alumnae who is doing a research project here at Brown. Her name is Megan Dawson, she graduated from Brown in 2008 and her concentration(major) was biology. She is currently working in Brainerd Lab which is located in the life science building is working on x-ray reconstruction of moving morphology. Being able to take a tour of the lab in which she works in and seeing the x-ray machines and animations she develops with certain computer programs is unbelievable. Getting this unique opportunity is special to me, and knowing that this is funded by the school is making me like more aspects of Brown that take away from the fact that it is an open campus.

What a busy day!

Today, everyone met at 11 am at the Maddock Alumni Center for a lovely brunch. Not only was there great food (I loved the blueberry french toast! haha), but I was able to talk to a few people who currently go to Brown or have graduated from the university. I liked talking to Marcella, a rising junior, who explained to me why she chose Brown over other schools. She, like several others, told me she liked the open curriculum and the freedom to explore various subjects led her to choose her major of Geophysics. I also plan to go to the admissions office sometime this week to speak to Mercedes Domenech about the medical program here at Brown. After eating, we went to a different room in order to here a couple of speeches. I found it interesting when speaker Tehani Collazo mentioned that she first went to a poor, low-rate school district, her parents took her out and moved her to Brookline. This struck me because I know a few students who left our district to move to one that they thought was better. I wonder if Tehani would have stayed with her school district if it had organizations, such as the Ivy League Connection, which helps students. Although we may not have the best district, I'm glad I am part of one that is slowly improving with programs like ILC.

After the brunch, Gina, Meuy, Carla, and I went to visit Wellesley College with Ms. Kronenberg, Ms. Kent, and Mr. Ramsey. Fortunately, a kind lady, Moira Kelly, was able to give us a tour of the campus. This school is one of the seven sisters (the seven all-women liberal arts colleges located in the northeastern US) with famous graduates like Hilary Clinton and Madeline Albright. My first impression was that the campus was beautiful and huge (600 acres!). There are only 2,000 undergraduates and 30% diversity. I liked how the school has such a strong connection to MIT and allows students to take courses there and has an extensive study abroad program. In the end, I could not see myself going to this school. This tour was helpful because I learned I may be more of a city person. Although it is 5 minutes away from downtown Wellesley and 15 miles away from Boston, I still felt a bit isolated. However, I'm sure I can use the information I received to talk to any students who are considering an all-women college.