Week 4: Life in Southern California as a Scientista
Life outside of the lab? Preposterous! Fortunately I have no problem taking a day, or two, or three off from work. And Southern California has a variety of activities for me to choose from when I ditch the lab to go play.
Our lab is located in Pomona, California- one hour from Los Angeles, Newport and Laguna Beach and two hours from San Diego and Santa Barbara. These cities have some of the world’s best beaches but also amazing museums, art galleries, and delicious food.
Almost every highway in Southern California goes to LA. Consequently, I frequently find myself there. Every time I’m in LA, I must go to Westwood, one of the rare walkable towns in LA. It is home to UCLA with academic types abound. The village is a great place to explore and relax with trendy shops and tasty eateries. I like to catch a movie in Westwood, since many movie premiers are held there and attended by celebrities. Westwood is close to the Pacific Palisades, one of the top ten most beautiful places on earth. After watching the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean, with dolphins jumping up from the surf and the Malibu hills framing the scene, I understood why.
LA has other attractions besides celebrity filled university towns and beautiful sunsets. The major art museum, the Getty, has a wonderful collection of circulating art exhibits including a permanent French Renaissance collection and a living outdoor gallery. The LA Natural History Museum has an extensive dinosaur fossil collection with a large female T-rex filling the entry hall. Yet after seeing my umpteenth celebrity and visiting the major art galleries, I was craving substance- a real city.
A friend recommended a weekend trip to San Diego and within two hours I found myself admiring the sophisticated, hip, patriotic city. As home to a major commercial port, a navy base, a major league baseball team, and an odd mixture of improbable neighborhoods, it is a cultural melting pot and always ready to throw a party. Within one day, I learned about Mexico’s US province in old town San Diego, toured WW2 battleships and submarines, saw a major league baseball game (Go Padres!), tasted a flight of Northern Italian Wines, saw one of five remaining white rhinos at the San Diego Safari Park, and enjoyed the world’s best taco.
After San Diego’s action packed weekend, I desired a mellow yet enriching atmosphere. Laguna Beach, located near Newport Beach, offers a sophisticated, high quality artistic environment. Laguna is an artistic community with a large endowment. Its success as an artistic community is due to its uncanny resemblance to Cannes, France. I had spent a summer in the French Riviera to complete my thesis for a minor in international relations and was taken aback by the resemblance between the architecture, geography, and ultimately the quality of the light. But I am not the first to notice the resemblance between Laguna Beach and the French Riviera. American Impressionism thrived here with artists traveling between French artistic communities and Laguna Beach. I spent my day enjoying the area’s natural beauty by exploring several hiking trails and tidal pools. In the evening, many art galleries have viewings and the city holds weekly concerts by the beach.
Although I keep myself busy exploring the surrounding cities, I spend most of my time with friends at home in Claremont. Several of my classmates enjoy cycling, running and hiking, and we routinely spend a morning or evening in the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains. When I’m not in lab, I’m exploring the natural beauty of California.
About the Blogger
Natalie Punt caught the science bug at her grammar school’s science fair . She followed her passion for model biological systems as a microbiology major at UC Davis. Natalie has developed and characterized a mouse model of tumor angiogenesis, engineered a 3-D model of tumor angiogenesis and most recently contributed to the characterization of the epigenetic regulation of Mixed Lineage Leukemia. Her work has earned recognition at numerous science conferences and publications in peer-reviewed journals. This summer Natalie submitted a grant proposal to Merial/Merck and successfully received funding to identify proteins responsible for the anti-cancer phenotype in animals by comparing the cancer associated proteins to similar proteins found in humans. In her free time she enjoys running around the Charles, reading design books and learning to speak Italian.