PRIME Students Send Their Final Dispatches on Their Summers Abroad

By Maureen C. Curran

Learn more about the Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME) program at UCSD's day-long Programs Abroad EXPO:
Monday, October 19, 2009
9:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
booth on Library Walk

San Diego, CA, October 7, 2009 — Just before they began their Fall quarter classes, the five undergrads who have shared their summer adventures abroad with us filed their final reports. The students are part of the Calit2-based Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME) program; they spent their summer working in labs across the Pacific Rim and India.

The five 'foreign correspondents' have kept the wider UC San Diego community up-to-date on what they were doing both scientifically and culturally as part of a series in This Week @ UCSD called "Dispatches from the Field." This Week @ UCSD is an e-zine published by the University Communications and Public Affairs Office.

Here, they share their final observations and stories (with links to full articles and archives).

Jessica Hsieh
Discovering Human and Architectural Treasures in Malaysia

Jessica Hsieh
Jessica Hsieh (in center) with school-children at a Malaysian village, Merbok.

Penang, Malaysia — Still reeling from the effects of jet lag, I begin reminiscing on the past two months. Although I have been home for only a few days, Malaysia now seems to be a place so distant. Yet, it is quite funny to say that home feels out of sync to the lifestyle I have been used to for the last two months. I hop into a car to get anywhere, following the red and green lights along the road. It feels weird that I barely walk to get to places now at home; I have been so used to running across the street after a quick right-left-right check. Going to buy things reminds me how strange it feels not being able to hear numerous dialects and see store signs in multiple languages. Walking under the Californian sun and not breaking out into sweat is a refreshing, yet also a slightly odd, change. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Jessica, a bioengineering: biotechnology major, is working to improve influenza treatments. Her project is to optimize the design of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) test probes targeting the nucleocapsid protein (NP) in the influenza virus. She is mentored by Habibah Wahab (at Universiti Sains Malaysia) and Wilfred Li (from UCSD).  [Link to all of her TW@UCSD dispatches]

Brian McMahon
Panda Handling and Sociological Studies in India, China and Hong Kong

Brian McMahon
Brian McMahon alongside the Li River in Guilin, China. After completing his work in India, Brian traveled with fellow PRIME students through China, including Hong Kong.

Hyderabad, India — Having finally left my home away from home at the University of Hyderabad in India, it feels somewhat strange that my time there has come to an end. As alien as the environment I was in may have seemed at first, by the time I left I had become accustomed to it more completely than I could have realized. I have met up with Michael Nekrasov (another PRIME student and foreign correspondent). [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Brian, a computer science major, is setting up a data streaming system for a sensor network in the Bay of Bengal. This system will be used to allow near real-time access to data for researchers to study, and possibly predict tsunami activity. He is mentored by Arun Agarwal, K.V. Subbarao and Rajeev Wankar (at the University of Hyderabad, India) and Tony Fountain and Sameer Tilak (from UCSD). [Link to all of his TW@UCSD dispatches]

Ramya Chitters
World Shrinks and Appetite for Adventure Grows after Summer in Australia

Ramya Chitters
Ramya Chitters (on right) at a typical lunch break with all the members of the MESsAGe Lab as well as other PRIME students with coffee, iced chocolate and cryptic crosswords.

Melbourne, Australia — I am now an official PRIME alumnus, making the whole experience seem like it was so long ago, even though I just got back a week ago. I miss my daily routine of going to work, hanging out with everyone during lunch, doing crosswords and going in for coffee after (although, I must confess I don’t drink coffee, so it would be going to do daily quizzes with those who like coffee), working again and then heading back all bundled up in our jackets to our hotel. The eight weeks I spent this summer in Melbourne has become one of the most memorable summers not only because I was in Australia (which recently on the Forbes list was one of the top five places to be), but because it was the perfect combination of work and play. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Ramya, a bioengineering: biotechnology major, is mentored by David Abramson (at Monash University) and Anushka Michailova (from UCSD). Her project is to use NIMROD/E to perform parameter sensitive analysis in cardiac electrophysiological models. [Link to all of her TW@UCSD dispatches]

Michael Nekrasov
Contrasting Cultures and Terrains while Trekking in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China

Michael Nekrasov
Michael Nekrasov at the Longji Rice Terraces in Longsheng, China. After completing his work in Taiwan, Michael traveled with fellow PRIME students to Hong Kong, China, and Japan.

Kenting, Taiwan — My time in Taiwan has expired, and now I am on the last of my grand adventure. With my internship over, I am now traveling Hong Kong, China, and Japan. I currently write to you from a quiet hostel in a small village in the rural countryside of mainland China. From the patio, I can see the peaks of steep Karst mountains jutting out of the rice fields. I am surrounded by little baby chickens and the sound of cicadas that seem to follow me whatever country I am in. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Michael, a computer engineering major, is helping engineer a system that will allow researchers to study corals in real time. He is mentored by Tony Fan and Fang-Pang Lin (at National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium and National Center for High-performance Computing) and Tony Fountain (from UCSD). [Link to all of his TW@UCSD dispatches]

Jade Kwan
Research Results and Rural Ramblings in Japan

Jade Kwan
Jade Kwan next to Maneki Neko (Beckoning Cat) in Ise, Mie, Japan.

Tokyo, Japan — Before I knew it, I was pushing my two 22 kg suitcases through Kokubunji, the Tokyo suburb I grew to know so well. I had only been here for two months, but the trip to the airport truly felt like I was leaving home. I knew, however, that I had much to look forward to back in Honolulu reuniting with family and friends. [Link to full story on This Week @ UCSD]

Jade, a cognitive science/human computer interaction major, is working on a data visualization project, taking scientific datasets to create an artistic 3-dimensional mapping, then scripting these mappings to present on high resolution tiled-display walls. She is mentored by Shinji Shimojo and Taku Morinobu (at NICT) and Jürgen Schulze (from Calit2 at UCSD). [Link to all of her TW@UCSD dispatches]

PRIME is a nine week-long international internship program founded in 2004 with funding from the National Science Foundation, with UC San Diego collaborators including Calit2. Other campus partners are the Academic Internship Program (grants one academic unit for the experience) and the International Center (assists students with improving their cultural understanding). The host sites of the PRIME program are key to making the program the success that it has become. Gabriele Wienhausen, UC San Diego division of biology associate dean of education and founding provost of Sixth College, is the principal investigator of this award. For more information, please see links below.

PRIME is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (including supplemental support from NSF's program for India and supplemental NSF funding via PRAGMA for three students), with additional support from the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), the National Biomedical Computation Resource (NBCR), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Bioengineering department of UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, additional partners and the host institutions, including additional support at USM, NiCT and Doshisha University. Five of this year's PRIME students received outside scholarships to participate.

On*Vector Photonics 2006
The mountain landscape in Taroko National Park, Taiwan.

Related Links

PRIME program website

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