Thursday, July 7, 2016

Two Belgian Wins and a Belfry

Since my last blog post, us IMEC interns have definitely kept busy: working, exploring Leuven, taking day trips, and the occasional grocery store visit have made us more accustomed to living here. Being in Belgium for the summer has been especially exciting thanks to Eurocup! This past week, we saw Belgium win against Sweden and Hungary, which sent the team to quarterfinals. For the Sweden game, we staked out a spot in Oude Markt two hours early, and barely made it in time to find a place to watch one of the large TVs on display in the street. The square was full of thousands of enthusiastic Belgian fans, each dressed in red with a Stella Artois in hand. When Belgium finally scored in the second half, the crowd went wild! It’s hard to describe what happened, but it was crazy and I’m pretty sure none of us had experienced anything like that goal in Oude Markt.

This past weekend we took a day trip to Bruges, a city I’d been hyping up for a long time because I’ve seen a movie that takes place there. I wasn’t disappointed--Bruges ended up being my favorite city so far, with its canals, cobblestone streets, and quaint red buildings. We climbed a 366-step spiral staircase to get to the top of the famous Belfry, which had an amazing view of the city. The “great Belfry weather” (quote by Chris) was perfect for exploring the many historical landmarks and buildings that call Bruges home.

At IMEC I’ve been getting the hang of the lens-free imaging set-up, which once seemed to have a million pieces that each needed adjusting whenever you needed to move the set-up to another place. Luckily there’s not a million pieces, and it’s been a really useful tool to see and quantify heart cell contractions without the use of cell-toxic dyes. Last week I spent some time simulating re-entry loops in cardiac tissue by making holes in the cell monolayer, which can make the action potential of the contraction move in cool-looking patterns.

Lakyn Mayo is a rising junior in Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and an IMEC intern with the Johns Hopkins INBT IRES program. She likes dogs, mountains, and getting lost running in new places.

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