SSP—A Diverse, Virtual Family

By Steven D.

July 1st, 2021 was just another ordinarily eventful day at SSP. The Hoosiers’ day consisted of a Class Activity detailing specific activity calculations, in which my breakout room first learned the challenge that unit conversions can pose, lectures about enzyme catalysis and kinetics which was of course challenging yet useful for our research projects, and finally, an Enzyme Kinetics Labster—the seventh and last one for the program.

Looking back on all the Labsters I ever completed and my conversations with my beloved lab assistant, I can say that I will certainly be missing the online lab program. They provided the closest thing to hands on, wet lab experience that was possible in a virtual environment, so it does deserve some credit despite causing my laptop to experience an array of technical difficulties. On behalf of all the participants, WE WILL MISS YOU DR. ONE!

Dr. One, the virtual lab assistant from Labster

However, for Judy, William and I—the resident Canadians at IU, July 1st represented something else: Canada Day. I was proud to be alongside my fellow Canadians, a mere fraction of the campus population, participating in this world-renowned research program alongside participants from other geographical locations. It was so gratifying to have fit seamlessly into SSP culture and tradition despite saying “washroom” instead of “restroom” (or whatever).

In my TA Block, I had fun conversations with my research group about Canadian weather; specifically, how harsh and unforgiving it was. I even showed them pictures of the sweltering sun just one hour before hail fell from the sky and lit up my ears with painfully loud cracks and recounted how my weather app changed its warning from “severe heat” to “severe thunderstorm” in just the period between our Class Activity and TA block. In the end, I was able to convince my teammates that Canada was far more than the icy wonderland brimming with Moose, Igloos, and Maple Syrup in which they had initially believed.

A delicious Canada Day cake my family shared today

Jokes aside, I also realized just how fortunate I was to be able to work real time with SSPers coming from so many diverse backgrounds. Whether from Canada, the US, or New Zealand, all 36 participants felt united, part of a larger family fused together through a passion for science and research, the bond only made stronger through relentless, but fruitful struggle.

Group 10 aka Nightlights scrutinizing our Class Activity Excel Graphs

Now, with SSP just about halfway finished, I would love to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful staff that have made this program and my incredible experience possible—the academic directors, Dr. Martha, Dr. Jessica, and Dr. Jill; the site director, Ms. Latus; and, of course, the ever-entertaining TA’s, Kevin, Rachel, Devin, Saj and Helen. On behalf of all the participants, thank you all so much! I look forward to the next few weeks of SSP!