Week 3: Lab time in Germany
At work, I belong to the optics group, working generally with, well optics. Right now the main areas of research in our team are LEDs and nanoparticle photoluminescence. I’m working on the latter, but I’ve dabbed a little in LED making as well. My supervisor, and Ph.D. candidate, Daniel, is perhaps the best supervisor anyone could ask for. Having studied in England, his English is
almost perfect and carries a signature British feel to it. It must be the accent or something, but he has a real knack for teaching lab techniques. Although he is usually busy on a day to day basis, be it preparing for a conference or helping others think of new ways to do their experiments, he somehow always has time for me. After teaching me the basics of the lab, how to use the lasers, and how to analyze data, he was quick to let me run free, and I love it. He gave me all the tools I needed to start doing research, creating experiments, and thinking about the data, but he stepped back to really make me feel like I was in control of the research. I respect him so much for his knowledge, but I respect him even more for his character and patience.
Besides Daniel, the other main caretaker of us interns, is Hans, a master’s student working on LEDs in the optics group. Hans spent a couple of years in the States when he was younger, so he and Daniel have the easiest time explaining things to us, and joking around with us. With Hans, I’ve had the chance to work a little on LED making and learning other lab techniques that I
don’t use on a daily basis including making masks with the U.V etcher. Because I mainly work with one of the lesser used lasers in the lab, I’ve become sort of the go-to person when Daniel is busy and Hans wants to use that laser. (It’s so exciting how much they respect me as an intern). As a master’s student, (graduate levels in Germany is slightly different, but the US master’s is the closest degree to what Hans is working on), he is usually tasked with the job of taking care of the interns, be it explaining how to clean samples or how the higher education
system works in Germany. Luckily for us, he loves to talk, so he loves it when you ask him questions about anything.
Last but not least, is Professor Lorke, who is now on his vacation. I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with him about my progress on my research project here before he left. Professor Lorke is perhaps the nicest professor I’ve ever had the chance to work. His love for helping students learn and grow blows me away. Professor Lorke is one busy guy. He is always bustling around, from teaching class to managing programs and looking after the research in his lab. Somehow though, he always has the time to sit down with you when you need him, and when he talks with you, he really gives you his undivided attention, as if your research were the only thing on his mind at that moment. I was so nervous going into his office a couple of weeks ago to talk to him about my research progress, (Daniel calmed me down by giving me tips on how to explain my research to him), but after several minutes, I felt really at ease. The meeting felt more like a collaborative effort, trying to figure out why my graphs were only linear with a
logarithmic time component. He would give me ideas to do more tests, and we would brainstorm and mess with the data, much in the same way Daniel and I think about the data in our offices.
I am so grateful to be working in such an amazing lab this summer; The Lorke Group optics team has opened my eyes to the joys and frustrations of research as well as the close-knit feeling of a great lab.
Pin-Wen Wang is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard (class of 2014). This summer Pin-WenPin-Wen will be studying light’s affect/effect on Nanoparticles at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. When she's not trying to figure out why there are so many e's in "engineer", Pin-Wen likes to play frisbee, cook, and try new foods from all over the world. Her favorite color is orange, and it's unlikely you'll forget that when you see her walking across Harvard Yard in the winter with her bright orange puffer jacket.