Update Three: Second Semester

Hello everyone! It’s officially the Spring semester here at NIU, and that means it’s time to get down to business! Well, research business to be exact. It’s definitely exciting switching focuses – last semester I worked to write my research proposal and spent my time reading articles to familiarize myself with the field. While I certainly am still reading articles this semester, I also now get to have some fun by using the SEM. Dr. Thompson and myself are working to work out some final details with the Geology Department, and then I will be able to begin taking images of the crystals.

Over winter break, I worked to learn how to use AFM imaging software. It has been a rewarding process, as I feel it’s really given me some physical intuition to the crystals. I also feel like I’m understanding how the data itself is recorded and stored. I’m still working to learn how to use all the small tricks of the software, but I think it’s going pretty well.

I think the most challenging part of my experience so far has been trying to budget time for research. My classes are at somewhat awkward times this semester, and I believe it may be difficult to get enough time with the SEM. Reading manuals for SEMs has also been a bit challenging, but it’s certainly been rewarding – I’m certainly excited to get started this semester.