Photo 1: Final Project

I’ve talked a bit on here about my love for both science and art, but at some point I realized I’ve never actually tried to combine my interests.

So for my final project for photo 1 this semester, I decided to try just that.

I got permission from the bio lab on campus to borrow one of their microscopes for a little bit, and ended up with the images below made into a science lab notebook, complete with some messy handwritten notes under each.


The cover of my notebook.





















Here’s the catch: none of the images above were actually taken with a microscope.

When I borrowed the microscope from the lab, the only thing I did with it was pose next to it for the cover photo.

To make this, I spent about a week just carrying my camera everywhere with me and just documenting random textures that I found, and then edited them to have the appearance of being under a microscope.

So much of what we perceive is based on context, so I thought it would be really interesting to try decontextualizing some things we see every day – a brick, a windowsill, a plant, and a bandaid in this case – and see if people would recognize the source in a different context.

The really satisfying thing was, it worked. When I presented the project, my whole class literally gasped when I said that none of the photos were actual microscopic views. One guy called me a wizard. The fact that people were genuinely fooled by this, and then were really interested in how I actually did this was rewarding.

Seeing that I could have a more unusual idea and have it actually work the way I wanted it to work was validating, and proof that this really is something I could possibly successfully pursue.


Fall of Sophomore Year: Wrap Up

This semester I realized a lot of important things.

Probably most importantly is that I don’t really want to pursue a career in scientific research.

This has been my general goal for the last year and half, so it’s taking me some time to adjust.

I still love the concepts of science, but I don’t really want to be involved with the day to day research. It’s not that I want to completely abandon science – I don’t. But, I don’t really want to continue pursuing the path that I have been.

Going forward, I’d like to explore some non-academic STEM related areas where I could use the knowledge I have, but not necessarily be involved in the day to day parts of research. Possibly science communication – I think that could be really interesting.  I’ve also been considering environmental law – I’m not sure I actually want to be a lawyer, but I’d be really interested in exploring more of the policy end of science.

It feels a little uncertain and a little scary to really be changing my focus, but it’s exciting too, and I hope that means that I’m making the right decision here.

My Favorite Assignment

Reflecting on my freshman year, I’m most proud of the work that I completed in my Shakespeare class last spring.

For this assignment, I was supposed to take a scene from one of the six plays we read over the semester and decide how I would stage it to portray a particular theme.

I decided to stage the finale from The Merry Wives of Windsor, where Sir John Falstaff (the bumbling, womanizing lead of the play who sent identical love letters to two best friends) is publicly humiliated for his brash ways. Fenton, the lower class gentleman, is also married to his true love, Anne Page, despite the wishes of her parents for her to marry a richer man.

In this scene, Shakespeare shows a shift in the status quo of marriage as a business transaction to marriage as genuine love and affection. Through the punishment of Falstaff’s brash attitude towards women and Fenton’s successful marriage to Anne Page, Shakespeare shows that the old ways of marriage for the sake of money are declining, and marrying for true love will prevail in the end.

I chose to stage this scene to emphasize the Falstaff’s  humiliation – having him interact with the audience, attempting unsuccessfully to hide behind one of them, etc. For the two merry wives, I chose to cast Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the roles, as both Mistresses Ford and Page, and Fey and Poehler are a pair of witty, comedic, strong women who are also best friends.

Overall, I really loved being able to read through the text in detail to really understand what it is the characters were doing and why, and how I could best portray that. It also reminded me of my love for theatre and the arts, and how I really would love to continue that in some way.  For me, it was really satisfying to be able to use all of my theatre experience and be able to create something new out of it, some new interpretation.

Swanka – The Merry Wives of Windsor-14cd3uo

On Community Service

After my service trip to NYC last spring break (which I talked about here), I decided to make service a more key part of my experience here at OSU. It really inspired me to make service not a special event or occasional thing, but something to continuously engage with and really make an impact.

I’ve been working with Best Food Forward (BFF), a student organization on campus that aims to combat food insecurity by providing access to cheap, healthy foods. BFF organizes bulk buys to purchase produce directly from distributors, usually cutting the overall price at least in half.

In addition to the bulk buys, BFF has some service projects to engage with other similar groups around OSU and Columbus. Last weekend, I went out to the Linden neighborhood of Columbus to help with a group called Food Not Bombs.

Linden has been at the center of the Smart Columbus initiative, which I’ve heard a lot about in the past few weeks. Essentially, the proposal for the Smart Columbus transportation grant was heavily focused on using the money to improve transportation and improve the Linden neighborhood. The community there is mostly comprised of working class families, immigrants, etc., and the area is classified as a food desert, meaning there aren’t very many grocery stores in the area.

What Food Not Bombs does is simple, but effective: they drive around to different markets, bakeries, etc., in Columbus and pick up all the food that’s still perfectly edible, but not pretty enough or not quite fresh enough to actually put on the shelves and sell. We collected two heaping trashbags just full of bread and bagels to pass out. It absolutely blows my mind how much bread is baked, and never sold. So much of it just gets thrown away.

What was really interesting though, was that the people in Linden didn’t want the bread. Of the roughly 80 people who stopped by in the hour we were there, I would say at least a quarter of them specifically said that they weren’t looking for bread, they don’t eat bread; they mostly just wanted fresh produce.

It makes sense, but so often people assume that less affluent people just want bread and sweets all the time, but that just isn’t true.

The other interesting aspect of Food Not Bombs is that they don’t put any limits on what people can take. We only told people, take what you think you can use.

And the amazing part was, no one took an insane amount of food. Every single person who came up to us took a very reasonable amount of produce and baked goods.

A lot of political rhetoric says that if given the chance, poor people will be greedy and take every scrap of handouts that they can get. They’ll take advantage of the system, and so it won’t work.

I’m not going to say that isn’t a genuine concern, but if my experience with Food Not Bombs is any indication, people seem to just take what they honestly think they’ll use. No one took 50 bagels, no one stole an entire crate of apples; everyone was respectful and incredibly kind to us.

The more I volunteer in and around Columbus, the more I know that in some way, I want to continue to be engaged in the community and continue to make a positive impact here.