Does Microsoft really excel? | Salil C.

6:15, 6:20, 6:25 . . .  6:45, 6:50. While this pattern may look like an arithmetic sequence you’d find on the back page of your Pre-Calculus test, it’s actually a list of all the times I snoozed my alarm clock this morning. On a normal Summer’s day, I’d go to bed at around 2 am and wake up close to 10, so starting an event at 7 in the morning would usually set me up for a “rude awakening” (pun fully intended). Simply put, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m allergic to early mornings. But lucky for me, SSP has served as my allergy medication: when I roll out of bed, I find myself energized and excited for a full day of learning. 

We started off the day discussing the work of Nobel Prize winner Jim Allison, who my team will have the honor of introducing as part of our guest lecture series later in the month. His work has mainly centered around the development and application of cancer therapies that prevent cancer cells from evading the immune system’s T-cells, which enable the body to target and destroy cancerous tissue. Many of us were inspired by the way he championed his research despite encountering a great deal of skepticism, and how he acknowledged science as a creative process, rather than just a logical one.

We then started our class activity, which was focused on creating lines of best fit for nonlinear, steady state kinetic assays using one of two programs. What would seem to be a rather trivial decision at first glance would become the day’s greatest controversy: do you prefer to use Google sheets or Microsoft Excel? Unpracticed in both programs, I quietly watched as the two “parties” religiously defended their choice in spreadsheets, desperately attempting to garner the support of the “swing states.” I was ultimately convinced to join “team excel,” aka “the dark side,” according to the Google sheets advocates. Whenever one of us struggled to complete a step in our activity, however, everyone made sure to extend a helping hand, regardless of their “affiliations.” 🙂 It’s this collaborative spirit that makes SSP so special.

After 2 hours of highlighting hundreds of rows and columns, we took some time to decompress during our campus block activities. We were split into breakout rooms and told to guess some of our fellow classmates’ personality types using the four-letter code from an MBTI test (S/O to all the ENFT’s out there). Our room was so dedicated to perfecting our four-letter assessments that we heavily inspected previous blog posts to gain a sense of the writer’s sense of character and combed through the memories of every interaction we had had with the assessed. Next, upon joining the rap and hip hop breakout room, I learned of the diss track that the astrophysics program had written about us biochem participants – unbelievable. A shared Google doc was immediately created, with everyone swiftly writing revenge verses for our clap back rap in response. Though incomplete without everyone else’s surrounding verses and input, here was my contribution:

“You claim to have an idol, Galileo Galilei

But Mendeleev and Darwin could do more in a weekday

While you look for twinkles many light years away

We’re resolving world hunger, more important wouldn’t you say?”

Up next was the early TA block with our teams, a 3-hour time block that was to be dedicated to finishing the class activity from this morning and designing our own steady state kinetic assay for our research projects. My group, the “Triple Bond,” works TIRELESSLY day in and day out without any breaks to ensure we keep up with our schedule… ok that might not be 100% true. While we tend to be pretty well organized (thanks to Noelle’s obsession with planning), we often find ourselves indulging in a few rock, country, and rap songs, engaging in a philosophical conversation, or receiving a Turkish lesson from Ardil (daily word of the day: Teşekkür ederim, which means thank you). Together, we’ve struck the balance between ensuring that this is “the educational experience of a lifetime,” while also ensuring that we “foster friendships that last a lifetime.”