Monday, June 18, 2012


Today, we commenced classes at Brown. I had no trouble waking up this morning with two alarms set up at different ends of my dorm. Once up and running I was ready and out the door with the wind at my back and sun on my face, eager for my first day of class in college! As I was leaving the dorm, I got a call from David to go walk with him and a few others to class. He had already become acquainted to two of his new classmates, Sai and Avery, much to my envy. After introducing ourselves we began the hike along Thayer St. Even with a few wrong turns we made it with about 15 minutes to 9 AM. Instead of grabbing a quick breakfast, we decided to just head to class to ease the time pressure. The DNA/Biotech and Macroeconomics courses are conveniently located close together. While the Macro students headed to the Smith-Buonanno Hall I found my way to the Bio-Medical Center, literally across the street from each other.

Entering the sophisticated Bio-Med building by myself, I suddenly felt very daunted, weighed down my own racing thoughts. Unlike the Macro kids, I had never met anyone in my class other than Kelly, including the instructor and TA. Given the concepts of biology can be learned on many levels, I was also unsure of how much detail we would be expected to understand. Upon entering, I was greeted by none other than my instructor, Jody Hall. Ms. Hall is Manager of Undergraduate Laboratories in Biology & Medicine at Brown, and she is currently working on her MLA in Molecular Biology/Biotechnology for Harvard University. Ms. Hall gave everyone three handouts: We soon met our TA, Colby Jenkins, who has recently graduated from Brown with a degree in neuroscience. The rest of the class soon arrived and we moved to a small lecture room. I noted that while the first set of seats completely occupied, not a soul tried to hide in the back—everyone wanted to be noticed. For our first lecture, Ms. Hall went over a ‘review’ of the basics of biotechnology and DNA. Even though everything she went over was familiar, I thought it was a nice refresher. In addition to review, she also brushed topics such as epigenetics, the study of how factors other than basic DNA sequence can influence traits.

Through the course today, I was excited to hear that most of our work will tie into gene expression, which appeals to me the most so far in the vast field of biotechnology. Looking at the course itinerary, we’ll also be in the lab for most of the course, in fact starting tomorrow!

I wasn’t very surprised to quickly realize that all of the students in DNA/Biotech are every bit as knowledgeable as me, maybe even more. This program accepts only the brightest from all around the world, and I’m prepared to put in more effort and work harder to stand out.

We concluded today’s session with a pre-test. Everyone trickled out of the classroom as they finished the test one by one. The people still testing continued to work. I was one of the last to finish, because I try to be as sure of my answers to finish. The last two problems about how to prepare solutions for the lab in correct concentrations were eye-openers for me. I haven’t received much lab training so I was shocked, and slightly embarrassed to find that I just didn’t know. After all, it was a pre-test. The TA offered everyone office hours for today, from 7 to 9 PM, which I made a mental note to myself to make good use of.


  1. Welcome to the real world, Ying-An.

    Commenting in no particular order:

    First, we would not have sent you unless we felt comfortable that you had what ti takes for this course. We were VERY stringent in that part of the selection process. That’s why we expanded the interviews to include more applicants that we knew had the stuff.

    And second, I hope you saw on several levels that you need to work on your time management. You thought you woke up with plenty of time to spare but you didn’t have time for breakfast (a BAD choice for a growing student with a full day ahead of him). Even though you arrived at your class 15 minutes ahead of the start time, you were too late to get choice seats (the early bird gets the worm).

    Even though there may not be any “bad” seats in this lecture hall, the instructors definitely take notice of those that are eager enough to sit in the front row. They equally take note of the slackers sitting in the back row ( I always do). It shouldn’t make a difference but it does. Such is the real world.

    When you all arrived at the BART station for the dinner, for the tutorial and even for your departure from ECHS, I took mental notes of who arrived early, who arrived just in time and who arrived last. And I made judgments about them accordingly.

    Once you get into the lab work, see if they have any extra DNAs sitting around and grab me a bunch as a souvenir. :-)

  2. Hi Ying-An. I'm Lenny Eisen's mother and I remember you from way back in elementary school. Are you the only ILC student taking your course at Brown? DNA/Biotech sounds incredibly interesting and challenging. Lenny arrived in NYC yesterday and starts classes next Monday. I look forward to reading about both of you and your adventures on the East Coast. Keep up the good work.

  3. [url=][/url] Sherwani
    You know exactly what you're talking about, exactly where other people are coming from on this issue. I'm glad that I had the fortune to stumble across your blog. It’s definitely