Entry 4

Nature can be used as a model for our own designs, for example, Janine Benyus who did a Ted Talk about Biomimicry talked about the skin of a shark repelling bacteria. She talked about how the shape/architecture of the cells keep bacteria from landing on the surface of the sharks skin. Nowadays this type of architecture is being used to design surfaces in hospitals. Learning from nature we are now able to create surfaces that are resistant to bacteria that does not include dowsing the surface in antibacterial chemicals that could ultimately cause a greater issue (bacteria resistance). Learning about this architecture I have learned that there are ways to solve chemical problems without using a chemical solution. Figuring out what these ways are might take a little longer but it will be worth it in the long run. Another example of a product being based off nature that is a little bit more basic, is the design of racing swimsuits. From fish, sharks, dolphins (excetera) and birds we have learned how having a streamline body/coating one can travel much faster and with ease through water. From this information designers have created swimsuits/speedos that are completely skin tight in order to allow for a more streamlined effect in the water, compared to board shorts. Our sickle cell research project is trying to design a test strip that is not the general, one flow strip design, instead we are looking to do more of a tee shape design. Learning how things flow naturally in nature might be worth looking into and we could possibly apply that information to our project. It might streamline/solve issues for our flow device. One final example is how a leaf stores and absorbs energy from the sun. If we could harness a leafs solar system like cell we could learn how to power machines more efficiently and improve devices that already use this technology, solar panels. Solar panels are generally very large and need to be very large in order to power anything. If we get a better grasp on this technology we could possibly use this technology to power smaller devices that could be used in developing countries that don’t necessarily have reliable power sources.

The Life Principle that stood out to me the most was resilience. I believe we start to learn about resilience at a young age. While the situations we face as a child might not be as serious we learn how to handle adversity and adjust from those small moments. How one responds to a tough situation can really show how resilient a person is and being able to bounce back is a very important skill in any field and in life in general. As a student I feel like my resilience is always being tested. It is very easy to give up in a class and believe you will never be able to understand the material but you have to push yourself to work harder to overcome those thoughts/ideas. Having resilience when it comes to research is also very important. I have only been working in the lab a few weeks and it is already very hard to stay motivated when all your tests have been failing. One has to be incredibly resilient but also motivated to do work like this and I am learning a lot about myself being exposed to this type of research. As of right now I don’t really know where I stand with considering research as a career path but I’m really trying to give this research my all and I am being driven by the fact that our research might be able to help someone in the future.

The Cradle to Cradle Design concept takes into account the entire life cycle of the product. For example, take into consideration a plastic child’s toy. The toy will give a child joy for a little bit of that kids life, then maybe the toy gets passed down to their sibling or donated. If the toy keeps getting passed down and down it is still fulfilling its purpose, however, what if this toy starts to release toxic chemicals from the plastic wearing down and causes cancer later on in life for the kids who use the toy after it’s 5th year. On the other hand, what  if the toy takes another direction and instead of being past down gets dumped in a landfill where it will take years to disintegrate. I have completely made up this example but those are all things one has to think about when designing a product; what will this product amount to in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? The device my research group is trying to design is meant to be a one time usage type product. Taking that into consideration we need to figure out ways our device can be disposed of safely and if it is possible to reuse and recycle any part of the project. The one part of the project I can imagine being recycled is the casing the strip will be held in. If we are able to resanitize the casing I believe it could be reused.

When I was growing up I was never exposed to Judaism. I knew the basic beliefs of the religion but nothing else. I didn’t know what Jewish services were like or the true meaning behind a bar mitzvah. About a year and a half ago, I met a friend who is Jewish and grew up in a predominantly Jewish town. I learned about synagogues, their services and the cultural aspects of the religion. I grew up in a place that was prodominatly Muslim and Christain and meeting my friend who was Jewish I learned a lot about how all the religions are very similar and how Judaism wasn’t as different as I thought.

I grew up overseas and attended private schools for most of my life. I had never attended an American public school nor had I ever visited one. Most of my friends here at Lehigh went to public school and a few attend public schools in the inner city. I understand that not all public schools are the same but they told me stories about how people would treat teachers and each other and I was shocked. I learned about how some public schools have metal detectors and how people would fight in the hallway. Hearing these stories I didn’t really know how to respond because those events would never happen at the school I grew up at. I feel like I learned a lot about my friends lives and their stories opened my eyes up to school in the US.

The last thing I’ve learned a lot about through my friends in the past year and a half here at Lehigh is, mental health. I grew up in a relatively small community and while it was a very open, respecting community, mental health was not a topic that was often discussed. I have met people here that are very open about their mental health issues and have no problem answering questions about mental health in general. The organizations here on campus about getting the help you need were also all new concepts to me before coming to Lehigh. It is really nice to know that if I do need the help there are facilities and people who will be there for me.


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