#ERAUColton Dives Into the Spring Semester!

Want to know what life is like on campus and in Prescott from a student’s perspective? Join Aeronautical Engineering (AE) student Colton Campbell every Tuesday as he takes us through his spring semester! You can also follow his adventures at #ERAUColton

Forensic Biology Student Internship at Prescott Animal Hospital

As an undergraduate student, finding internships in the medical field can be tough; most medical facilities are unable to grant undergraduate students an internship because they already have contracts with medical schools. Knowing this, I approached my biology professor, Dr. Eaton, to see if she had any creative ideas for an internship. I was pleased to hear that she had several and the one that popped out to me most was an internship at an animal hospital. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the office of the office manager at Prescott Animal Hospital discussing internship timelines and objectives.

My Embry-Riddle Forensic Biology internship at the Prescott Animal Hospital

The way we decided to design my internship experience was to start with simpler tasks and work my way up. This gave me ample opportunity to get to know the hospital and to really get the most out of my experience. I spent time in patient rooms, lab, radiology, dental, and finally worked my way up to the surgical suite.

Each area was exciting for me and I learned something new every day– whether it was something medical or about the equipment or myself or individual patients. Although I enjoyed each aspect of my internship, my favorite part was the surgical suite. Dr. Skinner was the surgeon I followed almost exclusively and he made the surgical experience exciting and loaded with information to learn. Dr. Skinner took the time to explain each task he performed whether it was which suture he used or the direction in which he cut the surgical site. I couldn’t be more thankful for the time I spent in surgery with Dr. Skinner; he was a wealth of information and experience. One of my favorite parts of surgery was that even when everything was planned and carefully thought out, if the body (after being opened up) showed that it required a different plan of action Dr. Skinner and his colleagues were able to assess the situation and revise any techniques. This took constant vigilance and it was amazing to see the gears in the doctors’ head turning in order to figure out a solution.

After the summer of working at the animal hospital and confirming my love for surgical medicine, I was thankful for all the experiences ERAU gave me to prepare me for my time at the hospital. Because of the classes I took at Riddle, I was able to be a part of the conversation and understand the terminology being used. I am so grateful for all I learned and hope other students are able to experience something so wonderful as my time spent at Prescott Animal Hospital!

Morocco Study Abroad Pt. 2: Sahara Desert

Morocco has abundance of diverse landscapes; from the crashing waves of the coast, jagged mountains in its center, to the mysteries of the desert in the east. Two other AMIDEAST students and I decided to check visiting the Sahara Desert off the bucket list and took a two hour train ride followed by a ten hour overnight bus to the far east town of Merzouga. Upon arrival, we were greeted by our host at the local Riad (a Moroccan styled hotel) where we rested before going on our two day camel trek.  Our guide, Youssef, greeted us in a bright, sapphire colored gown and dark headscarf.  Each of us took turns getting on our seated camel, and holding on for dear life as not to get flung off when it stood up. We departing in the early evening as the beating sun set and the temperature cooled.  After riding our camels for an hour and a half, we arrived to an abandoned nomad village.  Under a fire and the light of a small solar lamp, our guide made fresh Tajine, a vegetable and meat stew.  After the meal, we arranged blankets outside one of the crumbling clay houses and slept under the stars.  The silence of the desert and brightness of the stars was unlike any other. The land and the sky harmonized and formed a feeling of peace.

In the morning, we trekked to a nomad’s house in the black desert, a part of the Sahara characterized by coal colored rocks and sand. As we continued our journey, we could see the plateaued mountains of Algeria along the horizon.   We arrived at our lunch spot where we would spend majority of the day under a collection of trees to wait out the heat before continuing our journey. We were served a fresh salad and a nomad prepared “Pizza.” He stretched out the dough, placed a mixture of vegetables and spice, rolled it into a calzone. He then put out a brush fire he lit previously, and underneath revealed a mosaic of black rocks that were heated from the flame. He placed the pizza on top of the rocks and covered it with a metal tin, and let it cook for 30 minutes.  The other students and I paid close attention to the traditional cooking techniques, joking how it would be our new party trick at the next barbeque we attend back home. As the sunlight became dim, we trekked another hour to our final destination in the desert, a collection of caravan tents. We met several groups of people taking part in a similar excursion as us, and we all shared a delicious meal together. After dinner, all the guides collected together with drums and began to play while humming and chanting in Tamazight, the language of the Amazigh (or Berber) people. The Amazigh are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa and they have a large presence in Morocco. Their language differs from Arabic in letters and over thirty variations can be heard spoken in the MENA region.  After the music and late night sand boarding, we returned the caravan where we once again set our beds under the stars. The night consisted shooting stars and the brisk bites of the freshly cooled air.

We woke up at the break of dawn and completed our trek back to Merzouga on the richly pigmented sands with the sunrise behind us. The journey to the Sahara was and will be one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.  It was incredible to spend a few days in the desolate and peaceful land and also learn more about the culture of the Amazigh people that inhabit the region.

Morocco Study Abroad Pt. 1: The Beginning

Since the moment I landed in Morocco, this study abroad experience has been nothing short of an adventure. Taxiing over to Rabat, I quickly blended into the hive of 26 other confused Americans, all sharing their university and degrees, while desperately trying to recall the others’ names. When I share my background of aviation with Embry-Riddle, I get the usual squinty, confused face followed by questions such as “How many planes crash on average?” and “Are airplanes really safe?”

We spent orientation at the Oumlil Hotel, a 4 start hotel in the neighborhood Adgal. I like to think of “4 stars” as where a maximum of 4 out of 5 of the basic necessities will be available at any given moment: lights, air conditioning, wi fi, plumbing, and locks. The service received, however, was unlike any other with warm genuine greetings from everyone coupled with quick assistance to address any of our concerns.

During the first week, we dove right into the nitty gritty of everything we will love about being abroad, as well as the challenges we will endure. This included topics such as culture shock, or adjusting food and water; I have yet to get sick, Allhamdulila. Included in our orientation was a day dedicated to sightseeing the major sites of Rabat, where we toured through the fascinating Roman ruins of Chellah, saw the tombs of the previous King in the elaborate architecture of the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and concluded with venturing through Kasbah de Oudaias, a 12th century gateway that leads into a charming neighborhood of white and blue houses overlooking the Atlantic.

After a few days into orientation, we were paired off and greeted by our host parents. We taxied over to the neighborhood L’Ocean, a quiet mosaic of tall apartments near the water.  I was thrilled to meet my host family, and equally “thrilled” to learn they did not speak a word of English.  This is the case with most host families that work with AMIDEAST, the program I am studying abroad through. This immersion technique has demonstrated improvement of a student’s language abilities, or in my case, skills in Charades.

Three weeks in, we have been saturated with information and the pace has stayed the same since orientation with the start of classes and participation in out-of-class cultural learning activities. As the dust settles and routine kicks in, I look forward to the learning this study abroad experience continues to hold. I plan to be abroad for the academic year to get a prolonged immersion experience, and this whirlwind of a start is only the beginning.

My Internship at the BioMechanics Physical Therapy Clinic

At the Physical Therapy Clinic

At the Physical Therapy Clinic

My internship at The BioMechanics Physical Therapy clinic was filled with learning opportunities and I was able to expand my experience in many different tasks. Through this opportunity I began to develop my skills in patient treatment, bedside manner, and the fundamentals of physical therapy, as a whole.

My official title was a technician for the physical therapists and my job consisted of checking on patients, moving patients from one exercise to the next, teaching how certain equipment and exercises should be used or performed, and setting them up for modalities and/or heat or ice at the end of their session. As a tech, I was always on the floor making sure everything was running smoothly between the patients, as well as double checking that the therapists were not getting backed up with patients or extra work that the technicians could have been working on.

My studies and previous classes within my program for a Forensic Biology degree, prepared me for this internship by providing me with the correct information in regards to general biology and anatomy and physiology, so that I had knowledge of different muscle groups and their mechanics, as well as allowing me to utilize the business demeanor and professional manner that was implemented within several classes. Overall, I am very grateful for my position at The BioMechanics clinic and I have gained valuable experience, skills and knowledge, especially involving patient treatment in physical therapy that I will be able to use regardless of what my future entails.

Playing in the Dirt

Stage One of making a fuse bead on the fusion machine – Heating

I rarely paid much attention to the concrete in my everyday life, except to determine whether or not it would be there to catch me if gravity decided to work. I knew that it came from a mixture of what I thought was dirt and water, and that it was used to build things like skyscrapers, bridges, and sidewalks. Little did I know that this “dirt” was actually cement, and that people’s lives depend on how well it was made.

One of the days I was particularly dirty from mixing cement samples for testing.

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work for a cement plant as a quality control intern, learning the chemical and physical components that goes into making cement. This internship was designed to further my knowledge in my degree program, forensic biology. Though the two seem unrelated, the education I received in my courses, both in the lab and in the classroom, proved invaluable to learning and utilizing the chemistry used to make cement. In return, working at a cement plant provided important lessons that I can apply for the rest of my life.

My first few weeks at the cement plant consisted of training and obtaining my miner’s certification through MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration. I learned the layout of the plant, safety procedures, and how cement was made. This process has many steps, and each of these steps are tested and adjusted to ensure that the cement will be of good quality, as determined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Stage Two – Mixing

Stage Three – Setting Into Molds

The Final Product

There is physical testing, which requires making and testing concrete made from the cement, and chemical testing, which is done to check the actual composition of the cement. I mainly focused on the chemical testing. I learned how to manipulate various reactions to gather information, something I did in my chemistry courses at ERAU. These results were actually recorded and used, so I learned how important thoroughness and accuracy is in real-world applications.

The materials necessary throughout the cement making process

The heating tower viewed from the cement silo

I learned how to work in a professional environment, and how important it is to be able to critically think and solve problems. It was an experience I enjoyed!

My Internship at the Endophyte Service Lab at Oregon State University

My summer at the Endophyte Service Lab at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon has been an enlightening and very knowledgeable experience. This opportunity has provided me with the experience to greatly increase my knowledge and understanding of skills in the areas of chemistry, toxicology, and teamwork, as well as closely relate to my future aspirations of becoming a forensic biologist.

Working with these professionals as well as other students who have common interests with me in achieving their goals has been extremely knowledgeable and eye-opening as to what my future career entails. I have learned many helpful lab skills and techniques that would relate to an actual forensic analyst’s career as well as how to use machines such as Mass Spectrometry and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Fluorescence, as well as extraction techniques and finally how to analyze the data they generate.

My job was to perform extractions of lolitrem B, ergovaline, and ergotamine mycotoxins from various grasses used for feeding livestock. The process for one extraction typically took about 3 hours and involved a lot of micropipetting, centrifugation, and drying of solvents on an N-Vap instrument. Measurements had to be extremely precise to obtain accurate results since it was on a microliter level. One tiny little air bubble could ruin the rest of the process and generate inaccurate results!

If it weren’t for the practice and knowledge I obtained from my courses at Embry-Riddle, such as Foundations of Biology 1 and 2, General Chemistry 1 and 2, Organic Chemistry 1 and 2, Microbiology, and Genetics, I would have never been prepared for the massive amounts of micropipetting I had to perform as well as any of the terminology or basic skills needed to achieve good results at my job. My courses gave me the confidence to be successful at the Endophyte Service Lab, and my experience in the lab gave me the confidence and knowledge to further pursue a forensic biology degree.