Differences: Temperature, experience and me

Hello again!
I hope I can survive this strong cold weather….. When I came back from Japan (winter vacation) I enjoyed the 60 degrees differences in temperature.
Anyway, I am glad that my research does not involves outside work. It is only about sitting in front of my computer and looking at the data to find the trend. I am currently slightly behind the timeline, but I am still waiting for our demographic data to come out. In addition, we already have a clear goal on what to do, so it should not be a problem. I cannot wait to get a new result to present for URAD!
The major road blocks that I ran into was the amount of data. Since I do not have abundant students who are taking TLC class, it is difficult to compare the TLC year by year with a statistically significant data. However, this will be solved by the time, and as I accumulate my work, it will be more statistically significant result. It is always fun to look at the data. Every single time we look at the data, we find the new result, analysis, and ideas. I am feeling the need to improve my note taking skill during our discussion because I am too focused on talking instead of taking notes.
I still remember how fortunate I was during the first year Research Rookies. I had great peer leader who helped me revise my proposal and give advice to overcome the difficulty. I have amazing mentor who provided feasible project that I can complete in a year and expand later on. And I remember OSEEL staff who always give positive atmosphere during the monthly meeting. Because of them, I can still do my research and enjoy the process. Therefore, if you are a first year students, gratitude the people who supports you, and think about three good things happened you everyday. Then, you will be an optimistic person!
Thank you for reading!
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Research Rookies Reception: Public Speaking, Name Tag, and Pictures


Thank you for coming back!

Reception is always the fun time. I am not good at public speaking, but I like to speak in front of people. Yes, I do get nervous, but at the same time, I get excited. If I am doing speech, I cannot stop smiling and moving, especially when I talking about physics or my experience in the past. This year, I was amazed with the quality of the elevator pitch! I felt everybody did great job in the speech, and makes me feel like I need to work harder and harder. I am very happy when I hear my peer mentee’s speech, and when they  performed nicely. I  sometimes simply would like to scream out “Hey! That is my mentee! Aren’t they amazing?” Not saying that other Research Rookies are not amazing, but I think my mentees are great mentee. Oh, my speech? I think I did alright. I would give B+, because there is still need for the improvement, such as voice level, how to use microphone, and smoothness.

My favorite part about reception was speech by the previous research rookies and picture time. Speeches were simply sophisticated and showed me the example of public speech. It was clean, organized, well-practiced, and inspiring. In addition, my previous peer mentor from last year Research Rookies was there, which made me excited. One day, I hope to stand in front of Research Rookies and give public speech! At the end of the reception, I gathered my mentees and took pictures. I like that when I do silly posture, my mentees also do silly postures too. The sense of uniformity is my favorite. Also, one of the students put name tag on my back, which I did not realize. But, when I found out, I simply started gathering the name tag. Why? Well, there is no reason. I even asked Dr. Baker and Dr. Stover for their name tag. After collecting over 20 name tags, I felt sense of accomplishment. I think I am the only students in the past who collected name tag and sticked them on his back. I am famous now, in a bad way.

I am super excited for the next semester, because I am taking more physics and math! This semester, I could not focus on studying, and I earned ok grade but the quality of learning was not in the satisfactory level. Especially for physics and math, if I learn, I would like to know everything about physics and math. Also, I will be still involved in most of the organizations (Foreign Language Residency Program, CLAS Student Council, McKearn Fellows, Physics club, and of course, Research Rookies) and I feel like this is enough, so I will stay involved and study more! I am really excited to see what will happen next semester, because I enjoyed this semester a lot by meeting many different people and received inspiration for them. My goal for next semester is being able to catch up with current event, because I have a tendency not to read the news, so I would use my time to look at physics video to read news. Hopefully I become more knowledgeful about politic and economy, which I have no clue.

Thank you for reading, and have a great Christmas and New Year!!



Picture of me and two other McKearn Fellows (Jayson & Katie)

Thanks to their generosity for taking picture with this weirdo.

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Research Proposal? Comparison between past me and current me.

Hello everyone, thank you for coming back!

The weather is getting cold and I hesitate to walk outside from my residence hall.

However, it is nice that my research does not involve any outside work, and the only action that I need to take is sit down in front of the computer and stare at the excel spreasheet. My research progress is behind compare to our first plan, but we have decided to spend time on revising proposal, to make sure we have accurate direction. In addition, both my mentor and I will have more time that we can spend next semester, so we are planning to have more progress in our research. The path that we took this semester is indeed similar to last semester. The only difference is whether I know how to write proposal or not. I can still remember I was panicking to write the proposal last year, begging my mentor to revise it even though he was busy, and thanking him for giving me such a detailed feedback. Without him, I won’t be able to complete my research, even my proposal. This year, it is much different. I write proposal, and my mentor go over and confirm if I have right material.

Because of my past memory, when I hear some sentence from my mentee, such as “I have to read THIS MUCH paper Wataru….” or “I don’t know how much source I can put in” or “This proposal, I have no idea.” I feel nostalgic and reminds me, but my mentee are surprisingly calm and making great progress. I sometimes even feel, “so, do you guys need me?” But it is better than they have no idea what do, because they thrive by themselves, and find out the solution. My job is to listen to their struggle, talk about my struggle, and laugh together. Only information I am confident about is that they will be able to manage it. It is not because I did something, but because they are proving me that they can do this research based on their action. It is really fun and enjoying to see them struggle (oops) and progress. Since our group is extremely diverse, I cannot wait to hear their research and poster presentation.
Thank you for reading!

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Slow progress research, fast passing semester, amazing mentee

Hello everyone!
The semester is moving fast like a bullet train and my research is progressing like a turtle. The challenge that I am facing this semester is narrowing my research and time management. Since I already completed research for a year, we have many data to look and directions to approach, which make our research difficult to narrow. However, since my mentor is extremely patient to go over the type of research we can do, and discuss if the research is feasible or not, I am able to manage the disorganized mass ideas into simple and doable proposal.

Being a peer mentor is extremely fun and interesting. It is true that the role become challenging sometimes, such as being responsible for my mentee, organizing the meeting time and checking their progress. However, when I hear the story and research from them, the tiredness and fatigue go away from my mind immediately. Also, my mentee are simply brilliant, in terms of communication, knowledge, set goals, and positive behavior. Sometimes I even ask them to be my mentor for life, and I will be their mentor for research. I am still 20 years old, and there’s so many things that I can still learn, which makes my life interesting and joyful.

Thank you for reading!

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New Year of Research Rookies: I am back!

Hello everyone!

Yes, I am back! Fortunately, I survived my first year at NIU and I am starting my first semester as a Sophomore.

This year, I am still working with Dr. Michael Eads from the physics department. Since I am getting used to the research compared to last year, I am little more confident about writing proposal and performing my research. In addition, my research is continuous from the last year, so the majority of the component in my proposal is similar to last year proposal. And, I am very interested to see my peer mentee’s research, because my group have such a diverse area of interests! Physics education, elementary education, geology, geography, english education, environmental study. I cannot even imagine what kind of research is going on in these field, and I am excited to have discussions with my group about their research! It might be a little challenging to manage the time and work among different programs and mentoring, but I already know that many people are supporting me such as my friends, Research Rookies team, mentor, and even my mentee, so I can thrive this semester too!

In terms of research, we are having slow and steady start. This semester is slightly busier than the last semester, and the first few weeks is simply waiting for the data to come up, so our main focus is to narrowing the research idea for this semester to create approachable and feasible goal. However, our research will also focus on the calculus section of the TLC, which makes me interesting to see the students’ performance not only in the physics, but also in the calculus field. Moreover, this year’s General Physics I class have larger number of the students compare to last year, which will increase the statistical significance of my data. Also also, we are focusing on individual Force Concept Inventory response to gain more specific data that we can share with the physics department to improve the physics education at NIU. I hope that one day, physics become approachable and interesting subject rather than plugging in the number and solving the problem. It is important to solve the physics problem, but students, including me, have to aim higher and understand the deeper concept of the physics that cannot be understood simply solving the physics problems.

Thank you for reading!

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The program that changed me to a different person


It is a last week for McKearn Fellows Program summer. There were many obstacles and difficulties that made me struggle during this summer. Before going into the challenging experiences, I would like to thank many people. Dr. Lisa Freeman, thank you for providing the powerpoint workshop and giving the clear advice for the presentation. In addition, thank you for coordinating the McKearn Fellows program and supporting us. Dr. Anne Birberick, thank you for letting us have an opportunity to discuss about the interesting story, French Fairy tale during this summer. Moreover, thank you for organizing the McKearn Fellows program and providing various opportunities and events during the week. Dr. J.D. Bowers, thank you for assisting the McKearn Fellows as a program coordinator. I will never forget your humor, the 7am meeting, and the smile.

Mr. Jason Goode, thank you for your hard work during this summer. Despite the change in McKearn Team and busy schedule, your work was always perfect and helpful for me. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to organize the McKearn Fellows program, but your high quality performance led us to the end without any major issues. Ms. Stephanie Zobac, thank you for providing humorous and cheerful environment during the 7 am meeting. When you say the word, it becomes funny, and when you say the sentence, it becomes hilarious. You always made the environment positive and welcoming. Ms. Brittany Warner, thank you for taking your time and helping McKearn Fellows during this summer. Despite the busy schedule you have, you have never complained about the tight schedule. Your help was always amazing and impressive: conducting weekly meeting, sending email reminder, correcting poster, and revising final report.

And, I would like to say a special thank you to Mr. and Mrs. McKearn for providing the various opportunities, funding the program, and allowing us to have a chance to become better person. I will not be able to have such a immeasurable experience at Northern Illinois University. Since I am an international student without an permanent residency or U.S. citizenship, it is difficult to join the program outside of NIU. Therefore, McKearn Fellows program was the one of the only program I could apply, and the only program that gives me such a high quality experience. Without your generous idea and support.

Through the McKearn Fellows summer research, I learned a various skills and knowledge. I learned how to communicate with people not only in the public area, but also in the private place. It was always difficult for me to join the conversation among other native speakers, but because of other cohorts patients and kind attitudes, I was able to learn how to be myself without any hesitation or consideration.

The organization and time management skill is the also a huge factor. Since the research is based on the flexible time, it was difficult to stay focused. However, there are many useful apps, such as google calendar, and reminder, which keep me organized and on-task. In addition, the fact that every other nine cohorts are in the same situation, or even more difficult, gave me motivation and enthusiasm to complete the project.

The networking skill is a precious skill I learned during the St. Louis trip. First, I need to say “hello!” with clear and appropriate volume. Then, ask question, let the person talk to me, and the conversation will go on. It sounds simple, and it is simple, but I was not able to do the simple conversation. I was afraid about if I am saying the sentence correctly, if I am making the conversation interesting enough, or if I am simply speaking in an appropriate manner. Despite the concerns, since the Alumni people in the St. Louis were friendly and generous, I was able to form fun and interesting conversation, and became confident about my speaking skills.

The most surprising and useful knowledge I gained was the other cohorts’ characters. I already knew that they were smart, talented and kind people, but this summer experience helped me learn more about them, and improve my behavior and character. Playing board game and discussing the interesting facts about language with Tripp Weiner helped me to breakthrough my shell to talk louder and speak comfortably, and taught me we had a similar favorite games and interest.  Joining various activities, such as Chinese game night and Zombie apocalypse with Jessica Cox was fun and enjoyable, and also taught me that we enjoy fun events, and make it even more fun by doing it seriously. Discussing three different countries: Indonesia, Japan and America with Andrew Waite not only gave me the prospective and history of other countries, but also create the connection between us and helped me changing the sentence in my mind from “I am inferior” to “I am different.” Living as a roommate of Jake Swick, I found out that he was extremely polite and careful about sharing the bathroom and bath sink, such as asking “Is it okay to put shampoo right here?” which always makes me feel comfortable because of the politeness. Talking about the various problems that both Japan and U.S.A. with Katie Denius provided the information that she is more friendly than I thought, and knowledgeful than I realized. Listening at the schedule and the project, I found out that Maggie Miller’s project is difficult and she is extremely busy. However, I also found out that despite the amount of project, she has a talent and hard working mind to complete the project at the end. By providing me food and reminding us what to do, it was not so long for Christine Wang to have a mom position in the cluster. Her caring attitude toward others and humorous and cheerful behaviour help the cluster to have positive mind and environment. Joking around with Jack Sauter helped me learn that he is an extremely nice guy, and has great communication skill. When I say joke to him, he reply with the sentence that is funny, easy to understand and caring at the same time. My nickname for him is “communication master” due to the fact that he say “hi” to anybody with smile and shake hands. Playing badminton, table tennis and tennis with Jayson Shiau made me realize that he was not only an intelligent person, but also an athletic man. It was always a stress reliever to play sports after the research, and made the motivation to enjoy more research on the next day. These nine other cohorts were scary at the first time for me due to their talent and knowledge, but turned out to be an amazing group of people.

After the summer, I became a new person. I can join the conversation immediately, ask question more often and enjoying life much more. I am not the person who stay on the chair and simply listen the conversation for the whole time. I am not the guy who think he understand everything but he do not. I am not the boy who is in the small world and only accepting the event happening in his world. It was not my skill that I gained by myself, but it is other intelligent and talented people’s skill I met during the summer, which helped me to destroy the old skill and reformulate the new character. I cannot say how much gratitude to every body who helped me, but I would like to say it one more time. Thank you, for supporting my life and helping me to become successful.

Thank you for reading!

Posted in McKearn Summer 2015 | Leave a comment

Trip to St. Louis: First Day Listen, Second Day Learn, In the Future, Lead

In the morning, we headed to the parking area where Mr. Goode and Dr. Berbrick are waiting with two vans. Inside the van, I hummed along with music from the radio, discussed about the corn field and their production in America with Jake Swick, my roommates, and chated with other cohorts. It was a long five hours drive with an hour break at the Calver’s, I am so pleased have two awesome drivers, who drove for long hours. Since they drove for us, I was able to enjoy the scenic of St. Louis. Thank you Mr. Goode and Dr. Berbrick for driving.

As soon as I enter the hotel, I was amazed by the size of the room. There were huge two queen beds and a nice size table with a comfortable chair and couches. Other cohorts are living in the same floor with close numbers, which allowed us to hang out and visit other cohorts rooms. I was already amazed by this St. Louis trip, because the traveling is paid, and hotel is paid too. Everything is paid, and we can have great opportunities to network with Alumni, visit science centers, and meet Mr. and Mrs. McKearn.

After enjoying the hotel’s comfortable couches and beds, we departed to join the dinner at Mr. and Mrs. McKearn house. On the way to their house, I saw that the size of the house in the street was increasing spontaneously. Then, here comes their house that was huge in size, but not overwhelmingly huge. Instead, their house was huge and sophisticated at the same time. I was nervous to walk in, and checked my tie and suits. Somebody rang the bell and we went into the house with Mr and Mrs. McKearn’s welcoming face.

Not only the outside, but also the inside of the house was amazing. They had comfortable couches and chairs to relax, tasty cheese and salami to start outs, and interesting jokes and stories to tell us. Since a lot of previous McKearn Fellows were saying how nice they were, I raised my expectations pretty high, but they jumped over my expectation  nicely and casually. After their talk, it was our turn to explain the research and who we are.

I was little nervous when we introduced ourselves and performed the elevator speech, but thanks to the practice and we made it. I feel like overwhelming amount of practice is the right practice, because my mind was blank and hollow during the pitch, but my mouth moved automatically and created the sentences as usual. I think everybody did great job in the pitch.

It was really interesting to talk with Mr. and Mrs. McKearn Fellows, and I am so greatful to join this program. Due to the fact that I am international students with no permanent residency, it is such a difficult procedure to join the organizations outside of NIU, which usually require citizenship and permanent residency. Therefore, McKearn Program is the one of the few programs that I can join, and this program provides valuable experiences and opportunities. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. McKearn.

On the second day of St. Louis trip, we were wearing black suits and slacks/skirts under the shiny sun with temperature of 87 degrees. It was hot and humid, but surprisingly, I got used to the temperature after few minutes of walk. In contrast to the outside heat, the cool air welcomed us in the Danforth Plant Science Center, as if the air conditioning was saying “you need to cool down, come down, and be ready for this invaluable tour and talk.”

The Science Center was simply interesting. It is difficult understand the technical term and experts’ instrument, but the presenter and scientist break those down into pieces, which made it easier to understand. My favorite machine was the microscopy that shows the 3D model of the plant by electronically cutting the plant and formulate the model like MRI. Unlike textbook, the model shape was similar to the spider web, but instead of plain web, it was spherical. Thank you so much for the scientists who took time for us and explained what they are doing.

During the tour and presentation about plants by Ms. Bernds, the public relation manager, I faced a single problem. I cannot ask any question about plants. I was able to ask question during the explanation of machine, because it was interesting for me due to my major, physics. Even though plants are interesting, I was not sure if the question came into my head is appropriate or if the question has already been said.

However, when I was talking with Mr. Joseph Matty, the associate vice presidents of NIU Alumni Association, he advised me, which opened up my eyes. He said “do not ask a question if you do not have a question. You should not come up with the question. It should naturally come into your mind, from your curiosity.” It was amazing and shocking phrase for me. I always try to formulate great questions to ask, but I was not paying attention to the curiousness of the topic.

For me, physics is interesting, teaching is fun, and public speaking is enjoyable. But I do not pay enough attention to other perspectives, which forced me to formulate the question from my head not my mind. Also, during the presentation by Ms. Bernds, Dr. John McKearn said “It is great that you follow your passion. But, also pay attention to the outside of your passion.” His quote made my goal. It is important to pay attention and become interested in other subjects even if it is out of the person’s interest. And it does fit for me, because the most important factor to learn physics is the curiosity. Without curiosity, you can’t ask great question.

Since my brain was spinning around and steaming up with the hot temperature and hot topics, I was already little exhausted when we arrived to Biogenerator. However, when vice president of Biogenerator, Mr. Bolten begins speaking, the fatigue was blown away. If I would naively summarize what he has done to reach a prestige position, I would say “He worked hard.” Mr. Bolten was working hard and is working hard for his entire life. He ask questions until he understand the concepts, he say “I don’t understand” when he doesn’t understand, and he always study many different subjects because it is interesting. They are the fundamental steps to take to become successful, and they are simple and easy. But, it is difficult to continually do.

I might ask question, but only one or two. Mr. Bolten asked questions for an hour. I might afraid to say “I don’t know this.” He say it every day. I might become interested in the topic, but does not last so long. He finishes the book. It was very apparent that what I should do, what I could’ve done, and what I wasn’t doing right. I was doing the right thing, but not with the right amount. Mr. Bolten’s phrases expanded my tiny world, and pushed me into the next step.

Through the trip, I learned not only the scientific facts and truth, but also the knowledge to be successful in the life. Be curious about anything around me, ask questions and work hard. Although I am still in the progress to become a leader, I am getting ready by meeting many successful leaders and hearing the story from them.

Posted in McKearn Summer 2015 | Leave a comment