Week Nine: Iowa ADHD and Development Lab – Iowa City, IA

July 28th, 2015

Andrew Crow ’16, Carhart Fellow in Clinical Psychology

This week was rather busy, as I have begun brainstorming research designs for what will hopefully be an honors thesis, in addition to the normal routine of data collection, data scoring, and data entry. On Wednesday, Dr. Nikolas and I met to discuss four empirical works. And finally, I had a lab visit on Thursday morning, which went pretty smoothly.

Figure 1. Credit: Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013).

Figure 1. Credit: Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013).

In their paper exploring diffusion modeling of reaction time variability, Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013) intended to examine the relationship between reaction time distributions and response inhibition and working memory in a sample of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Perhaps as a result of ADHD, children and adults with ADHD often prioritize speed of response over accuracy of response, spurring what we know to be errors of commission (i.e. responding when one isn’t supposed to), an index of hyperactivity-impulsivity. Errors of omission (e.g. failing to respond when one is supposed to), on the other hand, are a hallmark of inattention. Despite these rather straightforward concepts, decision-making processes involved in responding (e.g. stimulus coding, motor preparation) confound interpretations of reaction time data. As demonstrated in Figure 1, the diffusion model accounts for this by producing three distinct variables: drift rate (rate of information processing), boundary separation (speed-accuracy trade-offs), and non-decision time (completion of preparatory processes prior to decision-making).

Figure 2. Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013).

Figure 2. Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013).

Figure 3. Credit: Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013).

Figure 3. Credit: Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Karalunas & Huang-Pollock found was such that children with ADHD had slower drift rates and faster non-decision times, yet there were no significant differences in boundary separation. This would indicate an overall slower rate of processing consistent with previous findings, while explaining faster rates of responding. Moreover, children with ADHD and controls performed significantly different on measures of working memory and response inhibition. Figure 2 and 3 extrapolate on findings from mediation analyses between ADHD status and reaction time and working memory.

 

Figure 4. Ex-Guassian distribution of reaction time data. Credit: Ghemlin et al. (2014).

Figure 4. Ex-Guassian distribution of reaction time data. Credit: Ghemlin et al. (2014).

Similar to Karalunas & Huang-Pollock (2013), Ghemlin et al. (2014) examined reaction time data using ex-Gaussian models (Figure 4), which focus more on the variability (or distribution) in reaction time, as opposed to the correlates of information processing and executive functioning. In their study, Ghemlin and colleagues compared mean reaction time (RT), standard deviations of reaction time (SDRT), and exponential functions of reaction time data (indicating extreme slow responses) in adults with ADHD versus controls. What is often found is that adults with ADHD have longer mean reaction times versus children with ADHD, which may suggest adaptive mechanisms or increased variability in response inhibition over development. They predicted that adults with ADHD would have increased frequencies of abnormally slow response comparatively, resulting in differences in variability of responses. When it comes to commission errors, the authors predicted non-significant differences. However, there was a predicted relationship between RT variability and omission errors. Figure 5 describes graphically what Ghemlin and colleagues found.

Figure 5. Differences in distribution of reaction time. Credit: Ghemlin et al. (2014).

Figure 5. Differences in distribution of reaction time. Credit: Ghemlin et al. (2014).

Ghemlin et al. (2014) found that there were group differences in slow responses and non-significant differences in mean reaction time and commission errors. In addition, there was a significant relationship between RT variability and omission errors. These findings may suggest adults with ADHD do not preform significantly worse on response inhibition, though they respond less consistently or not at all at greater frequency. Following this, it may be the increased RT variability is related to the greater number of slow responses, indicating more of an attentional dysfunction within ADHD as opposed to a deficit in response inhibition.

Figure 6. Differences in proportion of SS choices between children with ADHD, their siblings, and controls. Credit: Marco et al. (2009).

Figure 6. Differences in proportion of SS choices between children with ADHD, their siblings, and controls. Credit: Marco et al. (2009).

To investigate the role of delay aversion and impulsive drive for reward, Marco et al. (2009) studied children and adolescents with ADHD and their unaffected siblings and their choices on measures of delay aversion. Considering children with ADHD tend to prefer smaller rewards sooner (SS) over longer rewards later (LL), Marco et al. hypothesized children with ADHD and their siblings would prefer SS over LL compared to controls. As predicted, children with ADHD and their siblings chose SS over LL more frequently than controls with moderate effects (Figure 6). There was an interaction between group and condition, indicating delay aversion and immediate drive for reward may be contributing mutually to children with ADHD and their siblings’ choices of SS over LL.

Wilcutt et al. (2010) exploring etiological and neuropsychological contributions to comorbidity between reading disorder (RD) and ADHD, given there are often shared deficits between RD and ADHD in the areas of processing speed, verbal working memory, response variability, and response inhibition. Wilcutt and colleagues studied performance on a range of neurocognitive tasks within a sample of twin pairs from the Colorado Learning Disabilities Research Center (CLDRC) twin study, and predicted performance would be heritable among twin pairs and processing speed may mediate phenotypic covariance between RD and ADHD. Wilcutt and colleagues found that performance on measures of single-word reading, inattention, and hyperactivity-impulsivity was highly heritable, and shared significant environmental influences with reading difficulty. These findings indicate comorbidity may be due to shared genetic influence among RD and ADHD, where processing speed may be mediating this comorbidity. Figure 7 demonstrates genetic influences upon various constructs, with solid lines indicating significant contributions of one genetic phenotype to a certain construct. Note A1, which contributes to constructs of ADHD, reading difficulty, and processing speed.

Figure 7. Credit: Wilcutt et al. (2010).

Figure 7. Credit: Wilcutt et al. (2010).

 

Ghemlin, D., Fuermaier, A. B. M., Walther, S., Debelak, R., Rentrop, M., Westermann, C. Sharma, A., Tucha, L., Koerts, J., Tucha, O., Weisbrod, M., & Aschenbrenner, S. (2014). Intraindividual variability in inhibitory function in adults with ADHD: An ex-Gaussian approach. PLoS ONE, 9(12), e112298. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112298

Karalunas, S. J. & Huang-Pollock, C. L. (2013). Integrating impairments in reaction time and executive function using a diffusion model framework. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(5), 837-850. doi:10.1007/s10802-013-9715-2

Marco, R., Miranda, A., Schlotz, W., Melia, A., Mulligan, A., Müller, U., Andreou, P., Butler, L., Christiansen, H., Gabriels, I., Medad, S., Albrecht, B., Uebel, H., Asherson, P., Banaschewski, T., Gill, M., Kuntsi, J., Mulas, F., Oades, R., Roeyers, H., Steinhausen, H., Rothenberger, A., Faraone, S. V., & Sonuga-Barke, E. J. S. (2009). Delay and reward choice in ADHD: An experimental test of the role of delay aversion. Neuropsychology, 23(3), 367-380. doi:10.1037/a0014914

Wilcutt, E. G., Betjemann, R. S., McGarth, L. M., Chhabildas, N. A., Olson, R. K., DeFries, J. C., & Pennington, B. F. (2010). Etiology and neuropsychology of comorbidity between RD and ADHD: The case for multiple-deficit models. Cortex, 46(10), 1345-1361. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2010.06

Week Eleven: Barbershop Harmony Society–Nashville, TN

July 28th, 2015

Dan Rohovit ’16, DeVaughan Fellow in Non-Profit Education

We’re in the middle of Harmony University! It’s been an absolute blast so far! Donny and I have been working very well together to make this week happen, and this week more than ever, it feels like we are on the same wavelength about most everything. I’ve made some mistakes and have been able to fix things with relative ease, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from these past two days of Harmony University, it’s the importance of recovery. When these mistakes come up, I’ve instantly gone in to repair mode and done everything in my power to fix the situation.

One of my big worries was our student population and what the reaction to the changes in this event were going to be. I was very pleased to be met with several hundred smiling faces, thank yous, and hand shakes that made me realize how successfully smooth this event is going. Donny Rose has been an incredible asset to the Harmony University team, and he’s only going to make the event better.

We’ve been working a lot on our “what did we learn” list about various things this year. This has taught me that evaluation of an event can happen instantly and doesn’t need to wait to be evaluated. The goals of Harmony University are to provide a music education for barbershoppers, non-barbershoppers, and everyone in between, in an efficient and pleasant way. Most of our members have received that this year, but we’re still hoping to make that “most” into an “all”. I’ve gained a lot of perspective this week on how to really assess your pros and cons. While I didn’t expect to learn so much about Event Planning and Event Management, I feel so much more confident in my leadership skills because of it.

We are still pushing forward with HU, which ends Sunday.

Week Two: The Simmer Law Group, PLLC- Washington, D.C.

July 28th, 2015

Kenny Capesius ’16, Jeffries Fellow in Whistleblower Litigation

Week two at the Simmer Law Group brought with it big developments in the direction my Fellowship will take. Early in the week, I met with my mentors, Mr. Scott Simmer and Mr. Andrew Miller, to determine what projects I would be completing while on my internship. We decided that in my remaining time working at the firm, I would take on two major projects. I will be working on the first with Mr. Simmer. For this project, ultimately I will produce a sample opinion for a case that Mr. Simmer has been working on.

On August 4th, there will be an argument involving a motion to dismiss in a federal district court. One of the grounds on which the defendant is seeking dismissal is the “first-to-file” issue. You can read more about that here. This is the issue I will be writing a sample opinion on. The process to reach that end point will be intensive. I will perform substantial amounts of research prior to attending the argument. Afterwards, I will work with Mr. Simmer to produce first an outline, then a rough draft of the opinion, and then a final draft, which Mr. Simmer will assess and provide feedback. Specifically, the goal of this project is for me to learn the rudiments of legal writing and Harvard Bluebook Style case citation.

Washington Circle Park, which is about a 5 minute walk from the Watergate

Washington Circle Park, which is about a 5 minute walk from the Watergate

The second project I will be working on is a detailed outline with Mr. Miller. The end goal will be to create an outline that can be used by the Simmer Law Group to compare previous cases with cases they will consider taking on. For me, this will be an opportunity to improve my research skills and ability to analyze and succinctly summarize information, as well as learn how to use available legal tools (like LexisNexis).

For the first part of week two I was reading and researching materials related to that “first-to-file” issue. Early in the week I also read and highlighted important parts of complaints from previous cases that Mr. Miller and I believe would be beneficial to compile as part of the outline. Thursday and Friday were devoted solely to working on reading complaints and summarizing the crucial elements in the outline. On Wednesday, I was able to take part in a webinar about social media and its interaction with the law. The webinar covered the restrictions and regulations attorneys must abide by when utilizing technology and social media. It also discussed a variety of methods that attorneys can use to best implement social media and other technologies into their practice.

After the week was over, it was time for some sight-seeing. Although I have not done a lot of sight-seeing during the work week, I have made sure to clear my weekends so that I am able to visit the many places of interest in Washington D. C. The highlight of this weekend was visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. It contains many memorials, notable gravestones, and other deeply meaningful sights. Arlington House, where Robert E. Lee lived, was absolutely spectacular. It was wondrous to stand inside and to learn the history of the house itself, as well as that of the man who made a difficult choice and his reasons for doing so.

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The dining room inside Arlington House

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The view of the capital from Arlington House. From left to right is the Washington Monument, the Capital Building, and the Jefferson Memorial

By far the most incredible thing to view is the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Honestly, words cannot properly capture what it is like to stand in the presence of such an act. It is something you must see for yourself to truly appreciate the beauty it exudes.

Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Sites with particular meaning are the burial plots of the Kennedy family. I am an avid fan of history and politics, and the life and death of John F. Kennedy has always been of great interest to me. But the focus of my interest results from the date of his assassination. John F. Kennedy was killed 30 years to the day before I was born. This has always had particular meaning for me and, in a way, serves as confirmation that I am indeed meant to go into law and politics.

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The burial plots of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy with the eternal flame behind them

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The U.S. Marine Corps Memorial is a sculpture that captures the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima during WWII. For scale, the men are 24 feet tall and the flag pole is 60 feet

View from the north side of Arlington National Cemetery. You can see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capital Building, all in a row along the National Mall

View from the north side of Arlington National Cemetery. In a row on the National Mall are the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capital Building

 

Week Six: Children’s Hospital Colorado–Denver, CO

July 27th, 2015

Maria Goodfellow ’16, Clifford Fellow in Orthopedic Research

Remember last week, when I said I was almost 100% done with data entry? Remember the enthusiasm in that paragraph? Forget about that. Turns out you can be done with data entry, but data entry is never really done with you. After a few yoga classes with Wallace here on campus, I have come to terms with this.

This Wednesday I thought I had tied up all loose ends on my data. The final 6 patients were in, an issue with recording the sensory portion of the exam, which I won’t go into, were all taken care of! Woo! I excitedly emailed my boss, I had done everything but put a bow on the data.  Sadly, I spoke too soon.  As I’ve mentioned before, our study is based on a template used  (or not used) by providers. I entered all instances where this template was used (over 700 patients with anywhere from 4-10 instances of this template, so at least 2800 individual entries, but in reality closer to 6000.) What I did not realize is that we would have to also enter all instances in which the template was not used. This was originally going to be done entirely by a resident who has taken the lead on this project. But, once everything was said and done there were about 750 individual entries that had to be examined. In an effort to expedite the process, and hopefully see some results before I leave, I jumped in to help. So I suppose, in a way, my data entry is done, but looking at the new spreadsheet doesn’t make it feel that way! Hopefully I can report back to you next week that I am truly done with data entry.

Now for this week’s shadowing story! This week I shadowed a Physician’s Assistant (PA) at a remote Children’s Hospital campus. I have been debating between being a PA or a Nurse Practitioner (NP), so I was excited to watch the PA and compare my experience a few weeks ago with a NP, although in the Orthopedics department here they do have similar roles.

At the clinic we saw lots of follow-ups. Some general check ins, cast removals, pin removal (literally pulling out the pin that has been holding the fractured bones together while they heal.) There was one case in particular that stuck out to me, I will discuss it very generally here, to comply with patient privacy laws. A patient came to the clinic with joint pain. The pain went away with Tylenol, but without pain medicine the joint pain would wake the patient up. Waking up in the middle of the night with pain is a huge red flag, especially for pediatrics. This patient was very active and participated in athletic activities very frequently. While I listened to the case I thought ‘Of course you have joint pain! With all that working out, kicking, running, punching, it’s going to happen! Ice it, stretch, and you’ll be fine’, which is exactly why I’m not the one in charge. The PA student I was with had similar feelings, probably just a pain from overuse, but decided to take an x-ray to be sure.

The x-ray came back: Lesion. Or, as it’s more commonly called, a tumor. Could be cancerous, could be completely innocent. We had to send the family to a specialist immediately. I thought this was terrifying. Come in with joint pain, leave with a possible cancer diagnosis?  I saw the same thing in the ER a few weeks ago when a patient came in with headaches and left with a possible brain cancer diagnosis. It’s scary stuff!

Both of these cases show why it is so important for all providers, and especially in family medicine to be careful and prudent, to not allow themselves to fall into routine.  From shadowing the PA I learned that being thorough and conscientious is vital to medicine, at all levels. It’s not that I didn’t think that before but I now I have seen it in action. This patient was not on the schedule, the family came in because they were concerned. It would have been easier on the providers to have turned them away. Or, if they did see the patient, to recommended a heating pad, pain pills and no sports for the week. They could have rushed back to their scheduled patients to get back on track so they could go home on time. But they didn’t, they were patient and thoughtful and may have saved a life because of it.

So, here’s to a week of feeling extra thoughtful! Whether it be shadowing, or my beloved data entry. Maybe this project will change some aspect of treatment here, even just a tiny detail, and makes one child’s life a little better.

Week Nine: Genome Research Laboratory–North Carolina State University

July 27th, 2015

Becca Lensing ’16, Cornell Fellow in Evolution & Molecular Biology

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Storms almost every night this week have led to some pretty spectacular results, especially when it thunderstorms when it’s still sunny! I will never understand Raleigh weather.

This past week was spent putting the finishing touches on my database, now containing approximately 100 immune system genes related to encapsulation found in three species of tephritid fruit flies. These protein and nucleotide alignments will establish a strong foundation for which Anchored Hybrid Enrichment (AHE) probes can be designed. There is still some investigation to be done into the location of introns that may be sporadically dispersed throughout the genes, and which is most likely different for each species. The genome, or the complete set of genetic material present in the nucleus of cells, is largely categorized into two mutually exclusive groups: coding and non-coding regions. Coding regions make up what we think of as genes, pieces of genetic material that are “read” to make proteins. Non-coding regions, therefore, refer to the sections of DNA that are not transcribed or translated into protein. Sometimes these non-coding regions occur in the middle of coding regions, splitting genes into smaller fractions and separating those fractions with molecular distance. These non-coded “inserts” into genes, then, are what’s referred to as introns. They interest us, because if we are going to design a probe that fights like a custom-made puzzle piece onto a very particular section of DNA, we must ensure that our target site isn’t split with an intron, or the metaphorical puzzle piece won’t fit. The task of finding introns isn’t difficult with the experience I have under my belt. Time, rather, would be the limiting factor. Another project for another time, then.

Turning ahead to the phylogenetic spectrum of my summer research, I have expanded my search pool to five more tephritid species—Bactrocera tryoni, Bactrocera oleae, Trupanea jonesi, Eutreta diana, and Tephritis californica. After discussing the issue at length with Dr. Wiegmann, I have come to the time-honored conclusion that “more is better.” Or at least more interesting from a phylogenetic perspective, especially in such an under-researched family of insects. The switch from three to eight did come with other challenges, such as searching for genes in un-annotated genomes. A genome itself, is just a couple million or billion A, T, G, and C’s stung together in a very particular order. A genome become annotated when researches or analysts take the couple million or billion letters and find the genes it contains by finding the correct patterns. This is all just a gross over-simplication of course, but searching an annotated genome for genes becomes a lot easier when prior researchers have already found the gene and all I have to do is pull it from the database. However, when searching for genes in an un-annotated genome, such as I’m currently having to do, the finding part is left to me. This week, Dr. Wiegmann and I met with Dr. Marcé Lorenzen, an Associate Professor here on campus with work in genetic pest management who has taught classes with Dr. Wiegmann in the past. Finding genes in un-annotated genomes or transcriptomes is her specialty, so naturally I got a very insightful lesson on the matter. With the uncertainty and second-guessing wiped away by probing Dr. Lorenzen for clarification, the only thing left to do is to find those genes, make more alignments, and then start building trees, which will yield my final phylogeny.

 

Here are trees for three of the ten or so that I have been able to confidently compete thus far. Each species is represent by the four letters at the beginning of each title. Dmel represents Drosophila melanogaster (the “common” fruit fly), Ccap for Ceratitis capitata, Bcuc for Bactrocera cucurbitae, Bole for B. oleae, Btry for B. tryoni, Bdor for B. dorsalis, Edia for Eutreta diana, Tjon for Trupanea jonesi, and Tcal for Tephritis californica. They tell the same pattern of divergence, but vary in smaller details, such as branch length.

But all this searching takes a RAM power like you wouldn’t believe, so naturally, as is the American way when resources are limited, I expanded my territory. I now occupy all three computers along the west wall of the office I share with the two graduate students, one of which is currently residing in Brazil for the rest of the summer and the other, who is usually out in the field and prefers to work on his laptop anyway, so it’s okay. Dr. Wiegmann facetiously calls it mutiny. I call it manifest destiny.

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What one old computer can’t do, three old computers can!

 

Week Eight: Baylor College of Medicine SMART Program–Houston, TX

July 27th, 2015

Kyra Koehler ’16, Lunt Fellow in Childhood Nutrition and Obesity Prevention

 

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Even if I’m not fond of the city, the buildings do make for gorgeous sunsets! This is one from early this week.

I can’t believe that it has been a week since I wrote my last blog post, it feels like a couple of days! You could say this week flew by :) As I am getting close to the end, everything is speeding up. This week, I sent my text messages back and forth with my mentor making changes based on her suggestions. It amazes me how much I learned while I was doing my research to write those messages. I also asked one of the women on our research team to read them because she fits the target population for them. She read through them, all 412 of them, and made a few small suggestions but nothing major! It was nice to know that I didn’t do too bad of a job, since I had little clue what I was doing while I did it.

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This is a structure on Rice University’s campus. You can actually go inside it, under the hill. It lights up at night (that’s why it’s blue). It just looked gorgeous during my run one night.

This week, I was able to go to a presentation about graduate school applications. Most of it doesn’t apply to me because it was so science directed, so I only stayed for the personal statement section of the talk. There were a few helpful tips. I was proud because I already knew a fair amount of what was said. I practiced my presentation for my research team twice this week. The first time my mentor had TONS of suggestions. The second time (2 days later) she told me I did great. She said  (paraphrasing) “I normally have some sort of suggestion, but I don’t. That was good.” So I was excited about that!! I also finished my storyboard project this week! I also found out on Saturday, via email from my mentor, that my text messages are finished too! This means that this week is completely wrapping up and practicing my presentation!

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It is so hot down here! We were in the upper 90’s lower 100’s all week without the humidity being a factor. Even the squirrels are doing everything they can to stay cool.

 

In addition to my typical work, I had the opportunity to shadow a psychiatrist this week. That is one of the things the SMART program gives you the opportunity to do, shadow doctors. I didn’t know a whole lot of what to expect, but I was looking forward to being there for rounds. I was a little disappointed, because I only saw the doctor interact with 3 patients. The rest of the time was spent in a work room with a whole team discussing each patient and the treatment plan. Even though I was a little disappointed, it was still a great experience. I’m very glad the SMART program gives opportunities like that. I am looking forward to my next set of rounds on Monday in the Children’s Hospital.

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All of the glass here makes for some gorgeous cloud reflections!

Good news! I heard from the child life specialist that I spoke with last week! I will have the opportunity to job shadow a child life specialist sometime next week before I leave. I also figured out what I am going to do with my first block class this year! I was supposed to have a shadowing internship with three different speech pathologists. After realizing that this is not what I want to do, I decided that even though I appreciate them being willing to allow me to shadow, I don’t want to waste their time. So I looked through the classes offered and found one I am excited about! I talked with the professor, switched my schedule, and contacted the speech pathologists!

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We had a scare early this week. The rumor is that someone had some cooking issues. So around 10:30 all of the fire alarms went off.

This week, I also took my final diagnostic test for my GRE. So we had to take one before and after the class, so they know whether the class actually helped. I increased my quantitative reasoning skills to a score I am happy with! However, my verbal reasoning went down a couple of points. I am hoping that happened because I have been focusing so much on the math. I have talked with the instructor of the prep course multiple times about my scores and getting extra practice materials. When she saw that my math score went up, she told me to take a break for a few days in my studying. When I saw her later in the week she said, “You better not be studying!” It was nice to have her acknowledge how much work I was putting in studying. I take my actual GRE the 13th of August, so I have a few weeks to make sure I stay brushed up on everything.

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I laid outside reading in the hammock for a few hours Saturday. I think this guy smelled the remnants of the food I ate when I first got out there. He climbed the tree right next to me and laid like this the entire time I was out there.

Outside of work and school, one of my friends here, Wesley, had a death in his family. Luckily, he was finished with his project here and was able to arrange to get home. So on his last night we went to Torchey’s Tacos. Everyone here raves about how good it is, and we have been talking about going there since we walked by it the first weekend. So we finally went and just hung out. After he left, it got even more real that this experience is almost over. I know I said this last week, and I’m sure I’ll say it next week, but I am so thankful for my experiences this summer! Outside of going out for dinner, we just hung out a lot this week, watching movies and chatting. It was a good, relaxing week.

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Wesley, Olivia, and I at Dr. Slaughter’s Fiesta to celebrate the end of the program

Saturday night, Dr. Slaughter, the SMART program director, had an end of year party at her house. She had a gorgeous house!! She and her husband prepared tacos, tamales, and brisket for us. Sadly, we were waiting for the line to go down before we got food, and there wasn’t much left when we got there. What I did have was very good. It was a fun place to be. She has a wonderful collection of signed pictures of presidents (some of them she’s in the picture). She also has a collection of signatures from important entertainers (Elvis, Michael Phelps, the cast of NCIS,the Beetles, etc.). She also has a room that is safari-themed with all kinds of wild game in it. Since Wesley couldn’t come with us, we printed out a picture of him and took it with us to her house. So we included him in a ton of pictures!

 

 

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This is one of the many pictures we took with Wesley. This was in the Safari themed room.

 

 

Week Nine: Teacher Created Materials–Huntington Beach, CA

July 27th, 2015

Tom Dang ’17, Norton Fellow in Accounting

This week is a big change for me as I spent most of the time preparing and filing sales taxes. We sell our products to individuals, re-sellers, and schools throughout the States, and we have to pay sales tax for selling to individuals but not re-sellers and schools. What makes this task difficult is that each states has different policies about tax rates: some states have a definite sales tax rate, some states have different sales tax rates for different counties and different cities, some states even have different sales tax rates for each small region within a city. And of course, sales tax is required in different periods, which varies monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually. What diversity!

The process of preparing data is basically the same:

  • I use Microsoft Access to pull out the data: every order shipped to a particular state during a particular period of time. For example, every order shipped to Nevada between 4/1/15 to 6/30/15 (2nd quarter).
  • Copy the data into Excel and start preparing data by adding some columns. First I will add Tax Class, which identifies whether the order is for an Individual, a Reseller, or a School. I have the order code which does the identification, yet sometimes I have to classify some orders myself according to what I can see or find. For example, a person made a purchase and the system shows as for Individual, yet the “Ship to Attention” shows a school’s name. Thus that should be an order from a school and should not be charged tax. Some cases are harder to determine. A lot of time I would find an order that is for a large amount but classified as Individual, which is unreasonable; however I cannot find any information that it’s shipped or sold to a school or a reseller. So I look up the person’s account number in the system, find the address, look up the address on Google (thank you, Google), and oftentimes I would find a school’s address. As Jared said to me, we should use our best judgement, be careful and honest with data that we have and date we can find.
  • Then, as I have classified all the transactions, I will classify them as Taxable or Non Taxable. After that I do a quick total up, and create a Pivot Table. Pivot Table is a really powerful tool for filing Sales Tax. Now I’m done preparing the data.
  • After having the data in my hand, I start to specialize the data basing on each state’s requirement. Again, for some states I can simply multiply the taxable amount with the definite tax rate. For some states I have to look up the tax rates table for each county and city, alter the Pivot Table and calculate the total amount basing on each county’s tax rate with its taxable amount.
  • Lastly, I will either file the sales tax form online or mail them out. Phew!

Another big thing I did this week was going through an audit with the whole Accounting department. An audit is necessary to check the accuracy of our database versus what we physically have, our honesty as an organization and our ability to keep track and record activities among the company. One of the activities I did was to do Invoices Shipment auditing, in which the auditor chooses some invoices and requires:

  • Copy of invoices (that you can reprint from the system)
  • Copy of the Purchase Order
  • Copy of the Proof of Delivery
  • Data whether the invoice is paid or not

This part of Auditing is to prove that we do deliver our product properly, in full and in a timely manner. Of all four requirements, Proof of Deliveries (POD) have been the hardest to find. It’s because we use many shipping companies, the amount of orders vary, and sometimes there are international orders that are harder to keep track of (for example, an order from Australia would receive product from the printer from, for example, China, and thus keeping track of the POD is harder). We managed to gather all the information anyway. It’s just hard to know who would have the information, and Jared is excellent in terms of knowing the suitable personnel to contact for the information.

Another part of the audit is inventory count. We have to match our physical inventory with the inventory amount we have in the system. Jared, I and the Auditor spent 2 hours in both warehouses to count either books or boxes of books. Other parts of the audit require information from both A/R and A/P, which Sheila and Vanessa were able to provide easily. I can see the great importance of storing information to keep track of the company’s business and activities, and the way we store the information is vital so that it’s easy to locate.

Weeks Seven and Eight: Teacher Created Materials–Huntington Beach, CA

July 27th, 2015

Christina Rueth ’16, Henderson Fellow in Marketing Communications

This was the last week and a half of my internship at Teacher Created Materials. I can’t believe how fast this experience has come and gone, how much I’ve learned about publishing and marketing, and how much I’ve grown.

As I look back over the course of these seven and a half weeks and all that I envisioned for my time here, I realize now that this experience and what I have learned and achieved has been above and beyond what I could imagine. I have ultimately learned so much about myself as a writer and how my writing is not just that of a creative writer, but a potentially successful marketer. I learned how to refine and spin my writing so I can adapt my voice and writing style to appeal to different audiences (from 1st grade teachers to 5th grade instructors to school administrators). I’ve learned that I can persuasively captivate and appeal to different audiences. Most importantly, I’ve learned to have confidence in my writing, that it needs to be read and edited and given feedback, which is something I’ve always struggled with.

I am also utterly amazed how many projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on, beyond the product descriptions and new website content I thought I would be limited to. But in fact,I’ve gone from working with social media to email campaigns, from editing online presentation scripts to branding PowerPoints and handouts, from photo shoots to Trade Show projects, auditing print catalogs and sales sheets to entering product data online. I have been given a full, well-rounded experience of what it is like to be in the business of publishing and especially marketing. I also realize now how fortunate I was that I had a supervisor and employees who saw me as an equal and trusted me with working on these projects.  They trusted me to do a quality job and offer an expert opinion and thought I was talented enough to have my work published. To all of them, I am so utterly grateful as they have made my experience here hard to forget and hard to top!

This week has been very nostalgic for me as I have been looking back over all that I have accomplished here. Not only this, but it was almost perfect that the Write Time for Kids online spread was finally launched onto the Teacher Created Materials website. This was the product that I worked on only in my second week here as a very quiet and timid intern. I was so incredibly surprised how much of the copy they did not need to fix or alter.

The overview page of the Time for Kids spread!

The intro page when you click on the product from the series tab. The spread with all the components and features are shown once you click on a specific grade level for the product.

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Some more exciting news! The middle of last week, Kerry and I met to discuss a project that I would be working on for the remainder of my time here. She gave me a spreadsheet for 70 (!!) products that still need a website, short, and tweet description for each. I was almost disheartened because this was a project (for the first time) that I felt I would not be able to complete in the allotted time. Yet, here is the surprise: I have been hired on at Teacher Created Materials as a freelance writer for the year! All that I cannot finish here, I will continue to work on when I get home. These products are due August 2nd, my first deadline as a freelancer! Once this job is done, I will then continue to take work from Kerry and potentially other divisions as it comes to me. It may be more product descriptions; it may be more content for the website; it may be writing copy for an email campaign. Who knows! As shocked and nervous as I was by being given this opportunity, I am also now so excited and ready to start my first job that definitely help me reach my career and writing goals.

Also, now that our ILA Trade Show has come and gone (and everything that I helped Jessica prepare got to Saint Louis in time and worked out great regardless of all the stress and hassle), it is time for everyone to start preparing for this year’s Annual Sales Meeting. This is the main reason why my internship is ending this week instead of the last week of July. I have been able to offer some help and I created these Flashcards that contain 15 popular TCM products with descriptions and components on the back. These will be given to our Sales Reps.

Flashcards to be given to our Sales Reps for next weeks annual Sales Meeting

Flashcards for next week’s Annual Sales Meeting

Beyond the work grind, I got to spent my last weekend venturing all the way to Phoenix to visit Rikki Mulloy and Sierra Bisso who are from Cornell! There, I got to see and spend time with four other Cornell alums. It was great finally seeing familiar faces after nearly two months and it was almost an emotional moment for me. I was also pleasantly surprised how gorgeous Phoenix is (along with excessively hot!) and how much I wanted to go back!

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Up until this point in my life I have never had a big life experience that I had to experience and get through completely on my own. I’ve had to be my own best friend, my own caretaker, my own entertainment. I’ve never had to support myself, or travel completely alone, or figure out how to budget for a long term duration of two months. But now, I can happily say that I have and I am much a stronger person for it. I cannot even begin to fathom how thankful I am that Cornell has given me this opportunity to learn more about myself as an independent person, a motivated student, and a career-seeking adult.

Cornell has really helped me to develop and refine my writing that made it possible for me to succeed at Teacher Created Materials and to venture even further with a freelance job which will help me to become competitive in the publishing field after graduation. Even more now, I am confident that publishing is where I want to ultimately end up. However, I am now more open to looking into more things beyond my initial wish to pursue editing. Marketing, I realize, may even be a better fit and a perfect spot to have my writing put to some good use, where it can be used and tailored for a bigger purpose than just personal pleasure.

Above all of this, I can also confidently say that throughout my time here, I got the full California/west coast/Huntington Beach experience!

Claire, the intern from the  Education Division and me on the last Monday of  work!

Claire, the intern from the Education Division and I on the last Monday of work!

My roommate and me on the last night of my stay in Huntington Beach

My roommate and I on the last night of my stay in Huntington Beach

 

Week Five: Children’s Hospital Colorado–Denver, CO

July 27th, 2015

Maria Goodfellow ’16, Clifford Fellow in Orthopedic Research

Something amazing happened this week. I am 99.7% done with data entry. That would have been 100% but I really wanted to make my tacky end of the week aerobics class so I had to leave before entering the last six patients. So close! I am incredibly excited to have the data in so we can start getting down to the analysis and writing the paper!

Like most of my weeks, the majority of my time was spent in front of my computer. Not too exciting, but I do have one adventure to tell you all about.

As part of the internship, the hospital arranged shadowing opportunities. Many programs do not do this. Children’s (what we call the hospital) certainly does not have to offer shadowing, in fact, it can be a liability for them. But they do! And all of us interns are forever grateful. I requested all sorts of cool things to shadow. The one I was most excited for was a spine surgery. But, as it turns out, interns are not allowed to shadow spine surgeries. Any surgery has a risk of an infection. The more people that are coming and going in an operating room (OR), and the more people in the room to begin with, the higher the risk of infection. Now if you get an infection from a minor surgery or procedure, for instance, an infection on your skin from stitches, its relatively treatable. But, a spine infection? Not so much. Spine infections can be deadly. Sadly, for me this meant no spine surgery to observe. Instead, I was scheduled to go the Spine Clinic. Still cool! Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to it, but it’s not surgery.

Do you remember as a kid being jealous of your friends’ vacations? Say, they went to the water park, or Disneyland, and you’d never been? Pure jealously. Well, as all my fellow interns got to go to Disneyland, I mean the operating room, I was getting pretty jealous! They had seen hip surgery, neurosurgery, amputations, reattachments, all sorts of cools stuff! The whole time I was sitting in my office, not wearing comfy scrubs, entering data. In the medical intern world, watching a surgery is like getting to go to the set of your favorite sitcom or upcoming movie. Everyone wants to go!

So, in my jealousy, I placed a very nice call to the woman who organizes all the shadowing and very nicely asked if I could switch my spine clinic for a surgery, any surgery. And low and behold, sure! (Lauryn, if you are reading this: you are an amazing human being.) Turns out the spine clinic was actually under booked the day I was scheduled to shadow and she was considering cancelling it anyway. The very next day, the surgery gods smiled upon me. A surgeon called our department and said he had an open spot for an intern.

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All scrubbed up and ready to go! Fun fact, people are a lot nicer to you when you’re in full surgical gear.

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The Operating Room after a very intensive surgery. I did my best to keep the blood covered floor out of this picture… Surgery is not a graceful process!

I spent almost all of Friday in the O.R. and I had a blast! (Not commonly said after a day in the OR.) I saw two full surgeries. As always, I can only share minimal detail because of patient privacy laws. The first was a hardware removal. The surgeon  removed three 7-9″ screws from a knee that had been broken during a sports practice. The second was a forearm fracture. This one really showed me that surgery is not a delicate process, like you see on TV, at all. To fix this fracture the doctor hammered a long metal rod up the radius. Insert into bone, hammer ten times as hard as possible, x-ray, repeat until rod is fully up arm. I cringed the whole time.

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This is a stock photo of the second surgery I saw. Just keep hammering and hope the bone doesn’t split!

Overall, it was a great, fun week! To keep the fun going and continue to miss out on getting 8 full hours of sleep, I went out with two of my fellow interns on Saturday and met up with a fellow Cornellian on Sunday!

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My fellow interns. Caroline, a graduate of the University of New Mexico and fellow Albuquerque-ian, and Rachel, who will be a senior at Clarkson University in New York this fall.

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Leena Kaye ’15, a Denver native who exposed me to a great local coffee shop.

Week Ten: Barbershop Harmony Society–Nashville, TN

July 27th, 2015

Dan Rohovit ’16, DeVaughan Fellow in Non-Profit Education

It’s been another exciting week in Nashville. This week we are getting ready for Harmony University and it is the main stretch. We are working late nights to get the booklets printed, bags stuffed, and spreadsheets completed. We’ve had several changes in rooms, both for classes and students, that have caused a lot of shifting and changing the agendas as necessary. The changes this week have really made it clear how flexibility can make or break an event. Things are bound to go wrong and the best thing to do is just accept it and keep on moving!

My big task for this week has been to be a communications hub for all things Harmony University. I’ve tapped in to that mind bank again like I did in Pittsburgh, where I knew everything about the events happening, but didn’t know how I had gained that knowledge. It’s been an absolute blast, and I love the work that I’m doing. I’ve had several people tell me this week that Donny and I work so well as a team. Donny and I have a strong communication line going and it’s so great to have a mentor who is as demonstrative as Donny. There are so many points in our day where Donny will expose a learning moment. He is very mindful of how much I can learn from these experiences.

At the office we have a running joke that my name is “Dan the Intern”. We were able to get a nod to that on my nametag. There’s even a Facebook movement by our marketing team with #dantheintern. It’s been a lot of fun to joke about and publicize it all.

My new name badge for Harmony University

My new name badge for Harmony University

I mentioned Freeman Groat a few weeks ago, the barbershopper who has been a  member for 70 years. Last night at the Music City Chorus rehearsal. We presented Freeman with a 5th place medal. It was one of the most endearing and heart-warming presentations I’ve seen. Freeman was honored and humbled, and told us that he felt that he wasn’t deserving, but as many of us held back tears because of how proud and honored we are to work with him, we reassured him that he was the most deserving man in the room. I always look forward to seeing Freeman.

On Sunday we start Harmony University and it will be another whirlwind of fun!

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