O P S I M T O
IS SUE N ° 02
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Andy looks back on the day t h a t h e l e f t E l S a l v a d o r, a n d the day that he got a second lease on life.
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Life is hard, and you should spend it doing what you love. Sometimes, this can be easier said than done.
When the universe won't give you a break, you have to risk everything to give yourself the chance you deserve.
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Rachel has over thirty years of experience in the high tech sof t wa re indust r y.
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Life is hard, and you should spend it doing what you love. Sometimes, this can be easier said than done.
the bridge DJ BUCKETZ We catch Cameron in the heart of Blunite, an Isla Vista festival of celebration and rememberence, and talk about the tough decisions ahead for his career as a DJ and a biochemist.
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Sarah reflects on the judgement and restrictions she has experienced as a woman in STEMâ€”from men and women alike.
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The intrepid photographer reflects on taking the road less traveled and issues a challenge to our readers.
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As election season approaches, Francisco explores the catchy new Radiohead's prescient and forboding message for the EU and the US.
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After the successful third a n n u a l c o m p e t i t i o n, D r. Lu b i n reflects on the importance of finding—and sharing—the beauty of your science.
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The microbiology beauty shares her thrifted Western style and leads us on her jour ney to fa shion f luenc y.
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A reflection on the annual pilgrimage to the Coachella desert and the invigorating spirit of music festivals.
noun | \'risk\ 1) The possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as an injury, failure, or loss) will happen.
n expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
Niels Bohr, who received the 1922 Nobel Prize in Physics
for his model of the atom, was a scientist who was particularly familiar with risk-taking: he challenged both J.J. Thomson’s and Ernest Rutherford’s models of the atom and risked rejection and scrutiny by some of the greatest scientific minds of the time. Though the Bohr model has since been superseded, it remains a very wellknown and convenient description of the atom. Scientific research is focused on this bleeding edge of knowledge: the line between what is known and what is mystery still. Every day, researchers and inventors risk failed experiments, business ventures, proposals—failed careers even—just to expand the frontier of what is known. As the saying goes: high risk may bring high reward. COMPOSITE asked students, scientists, and engineers in all industries, fields, and walks of life to share their risky endeavors. We expected everyone to have a story—but some of the ways risk plays out in our lives may surprise you. Growth can be painful, and many would prefer to avoid it. Be it personal growth or the expansion of what we include in the realm of scientific knowledge, we must test the limits of what we know to be possible. No cutting-edge technology has been developed, no theory has been proposed without the risk of failure or shame. I encourage everyone who reads this issue to really consider what risks are necessary in your field—and which prohibit progress, rather than promote it.
cont tribu tors spri ng
ANDY ROSALES GLEN JUNOR JESSICA WONG RACHEL GOLLUB MODHURA CHAKRAVARTY SARAH CONLEY AUSTIN GRAHAM A. JOHN STAIR FRANCISCO CHIMA-SANCHEZ 5
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COMPUTER SCIENCE University of California, Santa Barbara g l e n
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CHEMISTRY University of California, Irvine j e s s i c a
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CHEMICAL ENGINEERING University of California, Santa Barbara
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V I C E P R E S I D E N T, B E N E F I T T E R I T HealthMarkets, Inc. m o d h u r a
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BIOCHEMISTRY University of California, Santa Barbara
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CHEMICAL ENGINEERING University of California, Santa Barbara
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CHEMICAL ENGINEERING University of California, Santa Barbara f r a n c i s co c h i m a
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MATHEMATICS University of California, Santa Barbara
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PROFESSIONAL DEVLOPMENT PROGRAM MANAGER Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships at the California NanoSystems Institute
COVER BIANCA PEREZ DUNN
L as bendiciones que Dios nos da WORDS ANDY ROSALES
IFE IS FULL OF BIG RISKS AND HARD DECISIONS. Seven years ago, I made the most life-changing decision when I left my country, El Salvador. I lived most of my life in the small town of Cuscatancingo, where my mother, who had the misfortune of suffering domestic violence, raised her two children alone with her low-paying job. Consequently, her job could not support our family, so she had to take out loans that increased daily. At times, we survived for weeks without electricity or water service because she couldn’t cover the bills. These circumstances pushed us to view the opportunity of moving to America as the only escape from our situation. The day that I left El Salvador marked the biggest turning point in my life. Those last moments that I experienced with my family before leaving my country were unforgettable. My hardworking grandfather, who wore his first pair of shoes at the age of 16, always told me to appreciate the value of education. I vividly remember how, with a breaking voice and watery eyes, he told me to take full advantage of “la bendicion que Dios te ha dado” —“the blessing that God has given you." He wished that I would take advantage of what not many people are fortunate enough to obtain in my country: a good education. His words still motivate me to strive for the best and to persevere despite any adverse circumstances.
After settling in the United States, things improved, but not completely. English was my biggest obstacle in America. I was teased regularly at school for not knowing English. “Who has ten questions right?” “Who has five questions right?” “Who has less than two questions right?” I would always be the last person to raise my hand, while my classmates whispered and laughed behind me. I remember the frustration that I felt every day when I came home, feeling like I was useless for not understanding anything in class. Despite feeling lost, I kept going to school never missing a day. I took ELD classes until I attended high school, where I was offered the opportunity to enroll in an honors class. I was apprehensive about taking that leap, as I was unsure and unfamiliar with the idea that I would succeed in a higher level class, but I was tired of being underestimated. My grandfather’s words continued to resonate in my head, and I remembered why I moved here in the first place. I took on another risk. To my surprise, the Honors level was better than I had expected, and I found myself enjoying it more than any of my other regular classes. My English improved rapidly, and in the following years I challenged myself even more with rigorous classes and reached the top 5% of my class Now, when I look back on the day I left my homeland, I recognize that everything good comes with hard work, and that risks are necessary in order to succeed. With hard work, I plan to repay the sacrifices my mother and my family made for me, and fulfill the promise I made to my grandfather seven years ago. When I (hopefully) complete my degree in Computer Science at UCSB, and once I am able to “climb the ladder," I want to help others like me do the same. During my freshman year, I had a taste on what is like to live and work in the Silicon Valley. I visited San Francisco for the first time during spring break through an organization called CODE2040—a San Francisco based non-profit organization that aims to close the diversity gap in tech. We toured 12 companies, including Box, Pandora, AirBnB, and Intel. It was during this weeklong trip that I realized the lack of diversity on the rapidly growing field of tech. I was lucky as a freshman to interview with top tech companies Microsoft and Intel. It was not until my last interview with Intel that I realized how unprepared I was for those types of settings. Though I have worked hard all my life, I am still less prepared than many due to my circumstances. Few underrepresented minorities are lucky enough to have the preparation to compete against their represented counterparts, a result of unequally distributed opportunities, exposure, and training in their upbringing. For the rest of my time at UCSB, I hope to create a network of peers at UCSB that helps minorities succeed in the cut-throat world of technology. Being a CODE2040 Campus Embassador and an officer for the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in science (SACNAS), I believe that I can make this happen, and I am looking forward eagerly to see what the future awaits for me.
Taking the Back Road wor d s
Photo: UC Irvine Athletics
2012, I WAS 21 YEARS OLD and holding my acceptance letter from UC Berkeley for their Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, crying. I barely graduated high school from Alternative, Community, and Correctional Schools and Services (ACCESS), a school for at-risk youth, where I attended after a suicide attempt. The school is designed to place students under intensive surveillance and provide rehabilitative services, education was secondary. My graduating class was six people, and I ditched my graduation. Most of my classmates did not make it far anyways. I worked several years before attending community college, where I eventually applied for transfer to Berkeley.
successful chemist and that I should accept the offer for psychology or decline my admission.
To me, it meant everything to be admitted to one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It validated my humanity. To attend UC Berkeley was to prove to everyone that I was not another drug addict destined to die in the street, another criminal to spend my life in prison. UC Berkeley meant I was fixed. But I was admitted for the wrong major.
I discussed my options with UC Irvine, another school I was admitted for psychology, and they gave me guidance on how to be admitted for chemistry the following year. I returned to community college and took Calculus 1 & 2, Calculus Based Physics: Mechanics, and General Chemistry 1 & 2.
I was a psychology major for my first two years in college. I worked harder at school than I ever had before. I was determined to make a better life than sitting in a hot office cold-calling homes and hoping to make enough sales to avoid being fired at the end of the week. I decided I liked talking to people, so I would be a psychologist, and the best one at that. I worked hard for two years, submitting my application to UC Berkeley with only one semester of general education requirements left. One of these required classes needed a lab; Biology or chemistry, so I chose preparation for general chemistry. I fell in love the first lecture; and after my first titration, I struggled to sleep at night. I could not stop thinking about atoms, molecules, and reactions. Never in my life had I experienced such passion. Then my letter came from Berkeley, and I was admitted— for psychology. I made several frantic calls to their admissions department begging to switch majors. They told me that I would likely never make it as a
I cried over the choice. My validation, my future, my identity was tied up in attending Berkeley. What would happen if they were right and I was not a good enough chemist to be successful? If I declined their offer and failed to become a good chemist, then I would have lost my chance to amount to anything. I would end up another kid in the street. The thoughts were pretty unrealistic, but they sounded convincing in my head. I took the risk. I declined my offer and decided to follow my dream and become a chemist.
I was the top performing student in every class, by wide margins. My excitement continued to grow, despite Berkeley’s prediction to the contrary. I was accepted to UC Irvine the following year for chemistry. I was so excited by the end of General Chemistry 2 that my professor recommended I join a research group the summer before I attend UCI. I was excited but terrified. In the back of my mind, I could not stop worrying I would attend UCI (a 4-year institution!) and suddenly be blown out of the water. Besides, everyone I told about my excitement would remind me, “Just wait until you take O-Chem.” (O-Chem proved not a problem, when I finally took it!) I took another risk. I read the profiles and a few papers of several chemistry professors and finally emailed Professor Matt Law, asking to join his group. He giggled at my excitement for his research on solar energy and solar fuels, and told me I was welcome to join his group. As of May 2016, I have been working with Professor Law for three years. I have had full control
over three different projects of my own. I have trained undergraduate and graduate students. I have traveled to conferences to present my work, written a senior thesis, and even spent a few months at UC San Diego on another research project. I am one month away from graduating UC Irvine as a chemistry major Summa Cum Laude with a 3.97 GPA. I have been given many awards, and spoken to students about science at all levels (from kindergarten to college). I was even accepted to PhD programs in Inorganic chemistry at Caltech, MIT, and UC San Diego! Years ago, I took the risk to start my college career over in pursuit of chemistry, against the advice of one of the most famous schools in the world. Simultaneously, UC Irvine took a risk and admitted me to chemistry while I was still untested, with barely the minimum classes required for admission. The summer before I was even a UCI student, Matt Law looked across his desk at a kid who was untrained and uneducated, but very excited, and decided to give him a shot. I didn’t even know what a volt was, and his lab develops electronics! Did the risks pay off? I was able to synthesize materials for Matt Law’s group that were previously untouchable by the physicists that primarily occupy the lab, opening up promising new parameters for those physicists to study and improve solar energy, as we know it. I found my love for inorganic and organometallic chemistry and developed confidence in my abilities as a chemist. I learned the professors at UC Irvine are world-class
instructors. They have opened up my mind for many creative new ideas, leading to progress in my existing research projects and hopefully my future ones. Also shortly after denying my admission to Berkeley, I met the love of my life, Victoria Hernandez. Our daughter, Tanja, was born December 2, 2015 during my applications to graduate school, and she has brought immeasurable beauty to mine and Victoria’s life. Most of all, I found myself. I no longer need the validating stamp of a “big name school” to know that I am human; to know that I will not die alone in a gutter somewhere. UC Irvine took a risk on me and decided to see what I will become. It has become my passion to look for the promise in others; to find the underdogs and help them become the person they dream of. It was done for me, and I know it can be done for others. Finally, I took another risk. I loved visiting Caltech and MIT, their faculty are world-class, their facilities and collaborations are state-of-theart, and they are the biggest names in science (at least in my mind!). But I felt a special connection with the Inorganic faculty at UC San Deigo, where I have decided to pursue my PhD this fall. Looking back on my 26 short years on earth, I can clearly see that taking risk to follow my heart has always worked out wonderfully. I no longer need to be afraid.
DJ BUCKETZ BIOCHEMISTRY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA ASSOCIATE BIOINFORMATIC SCIENTIST SERIMMUNE
hen someone suggested I feature DJ Bucketz in this issue, I knew the logistics of the shoot would be difficult to iron out. Unlike many self-described DJs in Isla Vista, Cameron plays at several night clubs in downtown Santa Barbara and opens for artists like Thomas Jack and GHASTLY.
COMPOSITE: When DJing?
Fortunately for this underage photographer, Cmaeron had also been hired to play at BLUNITE IV 2016—a community-building event in the month of May featuring blue lights inspired by the work of a UCSB Nobel Prize winner and intended to "illuminate the memories of those who were lost and injured by bringing our communities to create something hopeful, beautiful, and powerful."
Did you have any experience with electronic music before you began DJing?
I had messaged Cameron a couple of times but had never met; my first introduction to him was through the writhing bodies of the crowd surrounding the DJ stage.
Cameron Gable (DJ BUCKETZ): To be honest, I haven’t been DJing that long. I started DJing closer to the beginning to mid-Junior year, but I’ve always been a music fan and I’ve played instruments my whole life.
In college, kids start going to festivals and stuff. I decided to go to EDC 2014 with one of my housemates and a bunch of other people from my floor. I had never even been to a festival—but it’s THE festival. It’s crazy—it’s definitely a lot of lights, it’s an experience if you’ve never been to one before. I remember leaving there with a different appreciation of music in general but specifically electronically produced music. When I went to my second festival, Hard Day of the Dead—I left the second day thinking, I want to be more part of this culture.
You can solve a problem in a hundred different ways. You can make music in a hundred different ways.
It's definitely a very immersive culture. Everyone seems really deeply invested in it. I had friends who were into gloving, but for me it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel like it would immerse me as much as I wanted. I played everything from electric guitar to violin for a little bit, but I decided to give DJing and music production a shot. From there I had my own little intro board and started really researching music, looking at electronically produced mixes on production software, which is totally different from mixing live. That’s actually what got my first gig, I opened for Ghastly downtown. I’d never mixed live—maybe a party or two, but it was like wow, I have a couple of weeks to get my head in this. I took all of my work from producing these production mixes to mixing live, and from there I just started mixing a lot. Have you developed a better feeling for what to play for different crowds? I think it comes down to, if people are coming to watch you or they’re coming to have a good time, with you in the background and you’re not the main event. The club scene is kind of interesting because if you mix for a longer time, a couple of hours, you can see the changes in how people react. You usually start slower, then you pick it up and you see people start to dance. But as a club DJ, it’s not about having the hardest hitting thing at all times, it’s really about varying it because if people are going to be there all night they’re going to get super tired if you’re going to be playing…. But if you’re playing a one hour set, or you’re opening, you can give everything you’ve got because people are there to watch the performance. So where do you see yourself going, now that you're graduating? Right now I hold a job as a bioinformaticist at a startup downtown. I major in biochemistry, but I took some computer science classes as a sophomore and junior and that’s what I really like. So I code for this startup and I’m going to try to keep that job after graduation for hopefully at least a year. I’m going to use that time to really try to start producing a lot more. Santa Barbara is not the place to take off. But it is the place to learn. It’s small enough that you can be the guy quickly, but it’s big enough to have people to learn from. I really do enjoy being a bionformaticist. I was just coding for fun before you got here. And I will keep doing that, I think the company’s going to take off soon. Hopefully we’re getting second tier funding. We’re only five people now but will hopefully grow six times that amount if we get that funding. It’ll be cool not having to worry about school work and start getting to enjoy music more. But I will probably move to either SF or LA—one, there’s a lot of biotech jobs in LA and even more in SF, but they’re also music hubs. I think I’ll end up moving just to a bigger city.
All the work you do is on computers... Have you found any similarities between the work you do? It’s actually a lot of similarities to electronic music production. At it’s surface it’s very structured and mechanical, so you need to know languages and more than anything how to solve problems, algorithm implementation, but really it’s an artform. You can solve a problem in a hundred different ways. You can make music in a hundred different ways. I don’t think I did computer science because I like music or vice versa, but I have noticed the parallels between the two. Being mechanical but also being able to think on the go. What have you found is really necessary for success in the industry? I think the thing about starting out DJing, setting aside music production—I really think DJing is unique in that in order to be proficient, your only requirement is to love music. If you want to be a performance DJ, you wanna scratch, you want to become a well known DJ… Okay, you need some talent. But if you want to do some parties and maybe get some gigs—if you love music enough, you’ll
be able to do it. I’ve found that, sure, talent really does come down to it. Everyone says hard workers beat talent every time. I really think that even just as a hobby, if you love it enough, you’ll get there. I don’t know if it’s enough to become the next Calvin Harris or Madeon, but if you love it enough, the attention and the skill will come. Do you feel like the two sides of you are dueling, and one's going to give? I think the person that I am is an accumulation of both of those things and many other things—I’m a gym rat, for example. I think the person that I am is a conglomeration of all these different pieces that really seem unrelated to be honest. I’m not some computer hermit that comes out and shows his stuff to everyone at the club, but I really do think it’s hard to do all of it. I feel like I have a good balance. At this point it’s all a lot, especially with school. I could probably handle all of it without school, but having all these events and being a biochemistry major, it’s a lot. But I don’t know what I’d give up, you know?
Absolutely... So, I gotta ask. What's the BUCKETZ? I don’t know if it’ll stick around, but I do like it. Its origins stem from another passion—I’ve always tried to do a little bit of everything and music’s the first thing I’ve really tried to go after—I was always a big basketball fan. I played from when I was four to varsity in senior year of high school. I don’t play as much as I used to but I will always be a fan, and I will always play when I go to the gym. There’s a phrase in basketball, “Get Bucketz” and it basically means…score. Win. I think that was where it came from, but I liked that it was kind of silly, and to play off of the cliché environment of a DJ is important to me. There is some comical aspects of this person being worshipped as this rock star, and I think it’s important to just have a laugh and have fun with it.
If you want to immerse yourself in the experience Cameron continually creates, find him on SoundCloud. And keep your eye out for his appearances in Downtown Santa Barbara. Trust us, you wouldn't want to miss the real deal.
vice From their life to yours upperclassmen, graduate students, faculty, and friendsâ€”our guest writers volunteer their experiences to shape yours for the better.
F rom Upper to Under
— The Leap of Faith — INITIALLY, I DIDN’T THINK I’D MAKE IT as an engineer. In fact, one professor told me I’d be much better off in an “easier” major. Multiple people told me I wasn’t cut out to succeed in this major, or in research, or professionally. And I believed them. I didn’t have much, if any, background in science or engineering, and I barely even knew what an engineer was or did. I really didn’t think I’d make it. I then realized the words and opinions of others couldn’t shape me. It was my own actions, my own words, that made me who I was. When I had been listening to others and accepting their opinions, I had been limiting myself. I was the only one responsible to make that change, and it was only up to me to change the game and defy what was expected. There were numerous obstacles set before me. I was constantly facing difficult work and course loads and wanted to pursue my interests in entrepreneurship and research. Many told me to quit while I was ahead or told me to
take a break or focus on one thing at a time, but I knew that if I didn’t try and if I didn’t take the risk, I wouldn’t have any chance of beating the odds and achieving all that I wanted to.In taking these risks, I’ve struggled. I’ve made memories. I’ve enjoyed myself. In taking these risks, I’ve also failed. Multiple times--in research, in classes, (seemingly, in life, haha). But in taking these risks, I’ve also succeeded. (I have presented at national scientific conferences, made strong and impactful professional connections, and helped many others succeed on their own journeys along the way). And in taking these risks, I feel like I’ve succeeded perhaps even more than I would have otherwise. I learned that with great risk comes great reward, and I know now that I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t have accomplished all that I have if I hadn’t decided to take a risk. So, whether it’s in STEM, life, love, or in the æther, I challenge you to find something that makes you take a chance. I took the risk. And I encourage you to, too. wor d s
TOP TEN GO FOR THE SHAKE!
W AY S TO STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN
WHAT WAS THAT?
OPEN YOUR EARS.
If someone catches your eye— professionally or casually—go introduce yourself! A friendly hello will most likely be met in kind. Just like that, a friendship or business relationship is kindled!
Speak UP! Share your thoughts in meetings and in conversations with your boss and coworkers. Do you have an (informed) opinion on the way your project is progressing? Volunteer to give a presentation or technical talk at group meeting! Just remember: don't let anyone talk over you!
HIT SEND. Whether it's a fellowship, internship, or REU that you feel may be too competitive to be worth applying to... Apply anyway! Many others psych themselves out of the application process for the same reasons, and you may find that you're one of few who ever apply. Here's a hint: apply even if you don't meet all the criteria.
GET OUT THERE.
Is that conference across the country? Are there valuable resources in your field overseas? This goes along with #3: apply, and give a good faith effort into making it happen. Sometimes going that extra mile will give you the unique connections and experiences you can find no where else.
Chances are, interesting speakers are coming to venues near you! Keep your eyes out for talks by experts and professionals, and by all means—go hear them speak, even if they're not directly in your field.
FIND YOURSELF FIRST.
Before you can really challenge yourself in a healthy way, it's helpful to understand where your boundaries lie. Honestly delineate your skills and weaknesses, your fears and the things that you're confident in—and then go beyond them. Don't overreach, but take growth step by step, day by day.
THEN FIND SUPPORT. Modern STEM fields thrive on collaboration, and your psyche does too. Build a network of people who can cheer you on when you're down and redirect you when you're going in the wrong directions.
Maybe you've just been feeling like you've hit a dead end, that success is eluding you at every turn. Try your hand at something else for a while—a new project, a new subject, or a new field. Maybe you'll find that this was your true calling... or maybe it was just the sort of break you needed to see what was going wrong with your first endeavor.
ALL IN MODERATION. It can be easy to burn out if you push yourself too hard to accomplish something out of your comfort zone—and some risks and leaps of faith may not be worth taking at all. Weigh the consequences and be realistic in what your boundaries are and where you hope to push them.
BE HONEST. All that being said... Do you really have no time for this? Or are you too afraid of failure to make time for it? We're in STEM, of course we can evaluate risks. But we can still convince ourselves pretty easily to avoid work or avoid whatever it is we may be uncomfortable doing. Force yourself to admit when you're afraid, and then— do it anyway.
Just like scientific progress can't occur without crossing the border between Known and Unknown, you can never grow if you stay in stasis. Color outside the lines, explore the unknown, and don't forget to look back and see how far you've come! RACHEL ALVELAIS
RISK & RETURN IN SILICON VALLEY
GREW UP HEARING ABOUT PEOPLE who started a multi-billion-dollar empire in their garage. In reality, most people who create startups fail, or continue them as lifestyle businesses. Only a few startups grow to be self-sustaining and moderately successful. So how do you make the decision to take the risk? Ask yourself two questions. How much can I afford to risk? Am I willing to accept failure? The first challenges the assumption that you have to risk everything. You don’t, and you shouldn’t. Figure out how much you’re able to lose. Think about money, time, opportunities, and relationships, and make
sure you don’t risk the things you need or love, only what you can do without. Once you’ve calculated that, you have your budget. Your budget may change over time. One common choice is six months with no pay. However, I know someone who mortgaged his house to finance his startup--not a choice most people can reasonably make (but I’m rooting for him!) Other people may choose to work in the evenings and weekends while holding down a paying job. Everyone’s situation is different. The second question challenges another assumption: if you’re not willing to fail, you won’t. It can be easy to convince yourself that you will never fail. Realistically, many startups have to close their doors, it’s important to be honest and accept it as a possible outcome. On the other hand, failure is not something to fear. As many will tell you, “If you’re not failing, you’re not learning.” Every failure can teach you something new, help you succeed the next time. The Lean Startup methodology is based on this idea: test ideas
early and vigorously, so if you fail, you fail fast. A quick failure will leave you resources to move on and try something new. Remember, if your venture isn’t going well do everything within your budget to save it. Don’t give up early, but if you reach the end of your budget, don’t overreach. The point of figuring out what you can lose is to know when to stop. §
HEN I GRADUATED COLLEGE, I was hired as a software engineer. Six months later, they closed the doors, and told us all to go home (with no pay!). Despite failure, I discovered I love working in the fast-paced, agile startup industry. Years later, on maternity leave, I founded my first company. The risks were small: I wrote the software while on disability, and gave myself the length of maternity leave to succeed or fail. It succeeded as a lifestyle business. Over the years, I founded a few more, and each one got further than the last. In each case, I risked only what I could afford, and each failure or partial success gave me more faith in myself. Each one also taught me more about business, and created a new network of people to bring into the next venture.
made it clear there was a real opportunity, and we succeeded. Learning from the past, I knew what to look for, who to work with, and what industry to tackle. We sold our company to a larger one, and are talking about what we’ll do next.
How much can I afford to risk? Am I willing to accept failure? You need to consider what you can afford to risk, and what you could. Take time before accepting an offer or starting a company to figure out what you can lose, and make a plan for recovery. Make sure you don’t panic and pull out before your budget, nor overcommit in the hopes you can recover your losses. Be ready to fail, but plan to succeed. You know how much you can risk, and you can risk it to reach for your dream.
wor d s
A few years ago, I met with an investor who offered to invest a large amount of seed money in a startup I would found. I was worried since the risks were much higher. I was risking both our money, at a time when my kids were growing and expenses were piling up. I decided to go for it. We were incredibly close to succeeding, but a few small mistakes led us in the wrong direction, and it failed. I learned I could take larger risks than I imagined, and still survive. I was in debt, but I had calculated well, and we were able to work out of it pretty quickly. A few months after, I was invited to co-found a startup in the insurance industry. I knew nothing about insurance, but I had faith in my cofounders, and my industry research
great expectations “I KNOW YOU’RE WORRIED NOW, BUT THINGS HAVE A WAY OF WORKING OUT IN THE END.”
There I was, as a junior in high school struggling academically for the first time, Just you wait, Junior Mo, college will kick your ass way more than AP Physics ever did. My friend’s boyfriend was giving me this advice as I was complaining to the both of them. Growing up with a lot of academic pride made hearing these words really difficult. They seemed like a cop-out, like he was saying that even if I messed up things would turn out okay…to which my immediate response was I wouldn’t have to worry about any of that if I just didn’t mess up in the first place. I was pretty resistant to this guy’s advice, but little did I know that those words would come back to echo in my head several times afterward. I’ve definitely been fortunate to grow up with parents that valued academic success so much. This meant always having access to the best schools and several extracurricular opportunities. It also meant a wall of pressure to succeed accordingly. “So many people aren’t as lucky as you are. What’s your excuse?” This is true—I’m absolutely aware of it—but playing the whohas-it-worse game just leaves everyone miserable because it doesn’t help anyone get through their personal hardships. Here’s the Sparknotes version of the story I typically tell people. Once upon a time, as young Mo was in eighth grade, my dad told me I had to do an engineering major along with pre-med or he wouldn’t pay for college. Since I technically didn’t know enough about either career to adequately fight back, I just went with it. Not long after, I started grappling with this path a lot. I never really felt like I was an engineering person, what really called to me was being a doctor. Sure, I’m a problem-solver and I always loved math, and engineering is a great profession for those who truly want to do it… But I don’t. It took way longer than expected for me to really realize this. I learned to be extremely picky with my battles when my life was being dictated for me, and for whatever reason, I decided that my choice of major was something that I could concede. Yeah, hindsight really is 20/20.
I guess I told myself that I’d just do both majors to keep everyone happy, and it was working! …Until it wasn’t anymore. Fall quarter of my second year I realized that it just wasn’t plausible to do both. And even if it was, why would I spend 98% of my college career training to be an engineer when that literally wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I learned that it wasn’t enough to know that I wanted to be a doctor. I also had to realize that I didn’t want to be an engineer. I finally decided to change majors. My dad wasn’t too happy about that choice, and it does bother me to some extent, especially the snide comments that followed my decision. At the end of the day I had to prioritize my own happiness. Another important lesson that I learned a little bit later than I’d hoped. I’d be lying if I said that switching majors from chemical engineering to biochemistry made my life easy. What it did do was make my life more authentic. Choosing biochemistry was never a cop-out, as some have told me. It’s still hard work—but I can finally say that I’m working towards my end goal, doing what I’m passionate about. That is the best motivation you can ever have.
wor d s
conley’s column Sarah Conley, Mechanical Engineer
wear the damn dress From the headline, you might think that this issue’s column is yet another piece decrying the state of gender equality in technical fields. I’m far from the first one to point out that yeah, being a girl in STEM is extremely difficult. But that’s been covered. Honestly, women will have to face sexism no matter what we study in college. I want to talk about my experiences, but I want this column to ultimately encourage girls considering a STEM education or needing some motivation in the middle of one. I was raised by a female mechanical engineer, so I could easily imagine myself in the field—after all, who doesn’t see pieces of themselves in their mother? In high school, when I took both honors and AP physics, my two female teachers gave me further inspiration to pursue a mechanical engineering degree. It’s easy to encourage girls to pursue STEM degrees and to talk about the importance of seeing themselves as female scientists and engineers as they’re growing up. But the support for girls in science transitions to opposition and sexism as they get older and enter high school and college. Many promising STEM careers end with a simple comment from a fellow student, professor, and even relatives. Luckily, given my history of inspiring women engineers and physics professors, I knew that a career in STEM was possible.
People will say that if you portray yourself as confident and intelligent, you will be taken seriously. That is true in some cases. However, I have personally noticed men and women ignoring my opinions when I looked “pretty”. If I want to be taken seriously while wearing a dress, I have to act five times more confident than a guy wearing sweatpants. I’ve noticed over the course of my college education, I started dressing in baggier, less feminine clothes and I stopped wearing makeup most days. Not that I wore extremely feminine or revealing clothing in the first
place, but I felt like, in order to be taken seriously, I had to give up my femininity. In some cases, I even felt like I had to denounce my femininity. However, even when I am wearing baggy clothing, I still have to act more confident then most men in the room to have my ideas be given the same consideration. And yes, if I am too forceful or too aggressive, I get labeled as a bitch. My answer to that is, so what? What if I am? I still know the answer to this problem and you should listen to me regardless. Let me set up a common scenario of a woman in a meeting with several male engineers. They are all talking about some problem, and then the woman makes a suggestion. The suggestion is ignored, not respected, and discounted. Nobody really pauses to even consider it. A few minutes later, a male in the group will make the exact same suggestion, and everyone thinks he is a genius. Meanwhile, the woman is sitting there thinking, “that’s what I just said a few minutes ago!” This sounds absurd right? I mean, how could this happen? The sad truth is, this has happened to me, women related to me, and several of my female friends. You can even check out this New York Times article that talks about this happening to women across the board: “Speaking While Female." This problem isn’t just with men. Women are sometimes even more judgmental. In the past, if I saw another female engineer in the classroom who was prettier than myself, I thought, “Well, I’m probably smarter than her.” It’s an instinct built in to myself, as well as other women, and when we’re conscious of it, there’s not a single one of us that’s proud of it. I have since changed my perspective on comparison. Instead of comparing myself to other females in a negative light, instead I would give them compliments and encouragements. As my graduation approaches, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned from four years of Mechanical Engineering—and the engineers I’ve interacted with. I’ve been judged. My opinions, advice, and solutions have been ignored. I have felt like I needed to chance my appearance and look less feminine to be taken seriously. But that was not my whole experience in STEM. I made a decision to stand up for myself. To speak louder. I refused to let anyone make me feel that my authentic self is worth less because of their stigma. I wore the damn dress. And since making those decisions, I’ve made conscious effort to encourage the girls around me—complimenting them when they wear the dress, when they speak out, and to make space for them in conversations and projects.
P E R EZ D U N N FASHION IN-FOCUS
remember the f irst time I went to a thrif t store in 3rd grade to look for a Halloween costume. I had my hear t set on being Miss Uni -
verse and I was determined to f launt my p olite wave in silk y gloves and a beautiful gown. My mom decided to take me to the local thrif t store, T hrif t Town, so we could rummage through some eccentric options. This is when my love for thrif t shopping be gan. Sif ting through the heaps of funk y rejec ted dresses, I felt like a treasure hunter. My mind race d with ideas about who had worn these dresses and what they were up to now. I enjoyed the challenge of scanning through the masses and tr ying to identif y the diamond in the rough. I felt p ower ful â€” I had to make decisions quick and use a discerning eye to f ind what I wanted.
I eventually de cided on a silk y sea -foam green
could be in the United States, and I felt more
gown, which I absolutely loved, and I made sure
and more turned of f by the fashion industr y. I
my mom and I went to the thrif t store for Hal -
even wanted to be a fashion designer when I
loween ever y year af ter that.
was younger, as I loved drawing and p ersonal
T his fe eling has stuck with me my entire life. When I was younger, thrif t shopping meant a having an endless dress- up closet; as I got old er, thrif t clothes b ecame more of a regular par t of my wardrobe. Not only was it cheap and endless source of clothes, but it was also an eco -friendly alterna tive that represented my values in life. I began to realize how rampant the consumer culture
st yle. But with an awakened p ersp ec tive to how wasteful the fashion world could be, I lost interest in that dream. Once thrif ting became par t of my life, I found that I could easily inter t wine my dedication to an eco - conscious lifest yle with my love of p ersonal st yle. Much of my inspiration for my st yle comes from my parent sâ€™ inf luences. My Chinese dad and my Me xican mom both grew up in the 1960s-70s, which led to my love of those eras,
along with a love for traditional Chinese and
I also love Calle Del Mar by A z a Ziegler (ht tp: //
Me xican st yles. I esp ecially love the intricate
w w w.calle delmar.us/ ), which is an up and coming
embroider y and bright colors used in both cul -
brand with a summer y sur f-sk ate vibe. The pieces
tures. I ’ve b e en able to reuse a lot of my par-
combine the sp or tiness of vintage USA- made ath -
ent s’ clothes, which is another way I ’ve found
letic wear and the laid - back f low y feel of beach -
alternatives to unne cessar y shopping. T hrough
wear. Jacqueline Harriet is yet another one of my
thrif t shopping and re - purp osing clothes, I ’ve
st yle icons (ht tp: //w w w.jacquelineharriet.com/ ).
found my own ways to f ind the unique, vintage
She’s an amazing photographer who k nows just
clothes I love.
how to use color and stark pat terns to bring out the best in any shot.
One of my fashion icons is the st ylist /mo d -
el Honor Hamilton. She has the coolest st yle; her Instagrams (@hondawgg and @shir tpart y) shows all the awesome vintage clothes she colle c t s, as well as some really unique novelt y print s. I love how she mixes 70 ’s and 9 0’s st yle with a Cali t wist.
Want to see more of Bianca? We couldn't get enough of her either! The full shoot is up on our website now— and don't forget to follow Bianca on Instagram: @biancadunn *Almost all of the clothes in this shoot are recycled from thrift shops!
S TH E S U N S E T S O N DAY O N E
T he road to f inding my religion oc cur re d r athe r
at the Empire Polo G rounds in Indio,
natur ally, if pe r haps a bit unsually. A scie ntist
Califor nia , I a m met with a delight ful
at he a r t, my adole sce nt inte re sts we re t ypic al :
che mistr y
se re nit y. T he re is no othe r plac e in the wor ld like
A lthough I grew up in the Coachella Valley, I wa s
Coachella . It is my bre ad a nd my wineâ€”the sun
neve r pa r ticula r ly inte re ste d in the p rosp e c t of
is my god a nd the Fe r r is whe el is my alta r. I give
going to a mu sic fe stival.
my tha nks in the D o L ab.
Howeve r, a s I got olde r a nd evolve d mu sic al
Howeve r, I wa sn’t much of a c once r t- go e r. I
t a ste s beyond NSYNC a nd B r itney Sp e a r s, I
ne ce s s a r y
exp e r ie nce,
b e ga n to re c o gnize a r tists on the Coachella
crowds full of dr unk hipste r s ju st didn’t tick le
lineup. By the time I wa s “old” e nough to at te nd
my fa ncy. Sur p r isingly, af te r a pu sh fr hom my
the all-age s fe stival, my i Tune s wa s f ille d with the
pa re nts to tr y something new ( and one ex tre mely
quinte s se ntial indie tune s that oc cupy Coachella’s
ge ne rou s bir thday gif t late r) , I made the de cision
spe ake r s ye a r af te r ye a r.
to give Coachella a shot. A nd thu s b e gan my own jour ney to b e c oming a dr unk hipste r.
I â€™ V E N OW DA N C E D U N D E R TH E A PR I L D E S E RT S K Y for eight ye a r s in a row, a nd donâ€™t inte nd to stop. Who k new I would f ind something so b e autiful by doing something so out- of- cha rac te r from the che mistr y ne rd with his he ad bur ie d in a Ha r r y Pot te r b o ok ?
With this ye a r’s Coachella unde r my b elt, I alre ady a nxiou sly await one of the major holidays in my culture : the fateful day in e a r ly Ja nua r y whe n nex t ye a r’s line up is rele a se d. Until the n, I c ontinue to sta re longingly at notso - old photos a nd throw myself acros s a ny dance f lo or I c a n get my fe et on... A nd I’m still a STEM ne rd, so that ke e ps me bu sy to o.
Go fi nd your Coachell a .
H M M C
HOW MANY MEMORY CARDS
HOW MANY MEMORY CARDS do
gular space on your memory card.
you think you could fill with pho-
You have to make a choice between
tographs of ten thousand miles of
a picture of the Space Needle or the
American roadways, mountains, riv-
wall that could change your outlook
ers, lakes, parks, prairies, skyscrap-
on life forever. Which would you rath-
ers, men, women, strangers, friends,
er be reminded of two, ten, fifty years
tears and smiles?
When you account for endless
The choice might seem obvious
shots of your best friend drooling
when phrased this way, but, chances
against the passenger-side window…
are, your photo collection contains a
It’s a lot of memory cards. I only
lot of “Space Needles” and not a lot
brought one with me when I drove
through most of the contiguous Unit-
Finding the hidden and subtle
ed States and it filled up very quickly.
beauties of the world is no easy task
When you can only take a very lim-
and it involves a little chaos and a lit-
ited number of photographs of very
tle disappointment during your trav-
many beautiful things, the photos you
els. When I plan a trip somewhere, I
decide to keep become very special
set a destination and I (usually) make
to you. Let’s say you go to Seattle
it there in the end.
and you have one picture left on your
But when the directions say to
memory card. Among other Seattle
go right, I sometimes veer left even
landmarks, you might expect to take
though going left might seem unre-
away a classic photo of the Space
markable. However, going left might
uncover an “alley” with unexpected
However, just blocks away from
wonders. The nine out of ten disap-
the Space Needle there is an alley
pointments that come from going left
where, long ago, someone graffitied
are usually worth it to find that one
words of wisdom onto the otherwise
special thing to add to not only your
unremarkable walls. These words
photographs but also your memories.
might not even mean something to
Memories are a lot like a photo al-
someone else, but sometimes a nug-
bum and they’re more precious than
get of wisdom like the one on that
you know. You, like my camera, only
wall is so profound and specifically
have one memory card sitting be-
applicable to our lives that it changes
tween your ears: what are you going
to fill it with?
Now consider that precious sin-
wor d s
photogr aph y
A. JOHN STAIR
B U R N T H E WITCH AS S O M EO N E W H O H AS B E E N LOO K I N G FO RWA R D TO N E W Radiohe ad music since high school, the announce me nt of a rele a se this pa st month had me chewing my nails in anxious waiting. In light of developme nts in A me r ic an politic s and culture, â€œBur n the Witchâ€? is pe r fe c tly synchronize d with the voice s of those who r ight fully c all at te ntion to the spe c tacula r ly aw ful pre monition of a Tr ump pre side ncy.
Radiohe ad ha s neve r shie d away from vocal expre s sion of disdain for ce r tain ge opolitical de cisions ( Hail to the T hief and Colin Powell’s dubious claims of we apons of
libe ral individuals, in sta r k c ontra st to how well the c ore Tr ump c onstitue ncy doe s in hiding their a spirations and tr ue fe elings.
ma s s de str uc tion in Iraq c ould be splice d togethe r f lawle s sly ) . In "Bur n the Witch," T hom Yor k sings from the pe r spe c tive of the pe r petrator s to addre s s the ma s s hyste ria throt tle d against Muslim A me ric ans, the L atin A me r ic an c ommunit y in the U.S., et al. T he Sile nt Majorit y doe s what T hom Yorke croons : “Che e r at the gallows / T his is a round up," and in re alit y, this is of major c once r n to anyone paying at te ntion to the cultural force s at wor k at the mome nt. O ne ne e d only re ach back a few ye a r s to se e what an ugly cre ature Islamophobia and xe nophobia is—and with what e nd? Sihk-A me r icans mistake n for MuslimA me ric ans and shot at ga s stations, mosque s bur ne d down and subje c t to shooting ma s s acre s... Round up, inde e d : Donald Tr ump’s c all for closing the borde r s and de por ting seve ral million individuals a re exac tly what Radiohe ad ta rgets in “Bur n the Witch”, de spite being relatively insulate d in the U.K . from the vitr iol. Each of the se groups a re vic tims of the de range d individuals who make up a por tion of those f ir mly planting their Make A me r ican G re at Again signs in their front ya rds. Pe r haps the most ominous ly r ic is “ We k now whe re you live.” It's e a sy e nough to ta rget minoritie s and voc ally
In that se nse, Muslim -A me r ic ans, Chic an @ s / L atin @ s, and many minor itie s a re much more vulne rable and expose d than the othe r c amp. T hough a solid c oalition of A me r ic ans have expre s se d disgust and outrage in the pa st ye a r a s Tr ump’s campaign ha s de ge ne rate d into outright misogyny and white supre macy, his c ampaign c ontinue s to ste amroll into this ye a r’s ele c tions and prove that a signif ic ant por tion of the ele c torate ha s ignore d Radiohe ad’s wa r ning : they “A bandon all re a son”. In many re spe c ts, histor y simulate s a train ba r reling into the side of a mountain in slow motion and without ac tive and vigorous inte r ve ntion, the e nd of the sce ne is wr it te n and done. T he use of slow and incre a sing discordance in str ings in “Bur n the Witch” symbolize s this prope r t y of histor y, ac ting a s a cle a r sire n for a te r r ible pos sible future and a c all to ac tion for those who re alize it mustn’t happe n. wor d s
Dr. Arica Lubin Co-Organizer
The Art of Science The Art of Science is a partnership between the Jon Schuller Lab, the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships, the California Nanosystems Institute, and the UCSB Library. View all entries at the Art of Science Website.
Above: Nanoscale Current Map by David X. Cao
As scientists, indeed as scholars of any kind, we do not fit a single stereotype, nor a common set of perspectives or values, nor a singularity of interests. We are instead the sum of varied experiences that have shaped how we approach problems and view the world. We are as unique as our genome and yet each as governed as the next by the laws of physics. The “Art of Science” initiative here at UCSB is an example of a project that celebrates this universal uniqueness and “oneness." In challenging UCSB students and researchers to visually communicate the story and beauty inherent in their scientific investigations, it captures the imagination, challenge beliefs and expectations, and shares the beauty and meaning of science through illustrative photographs and images of discovery. In showcasing vivid images of cells, new materials and models of natural phenomena, it merges the mystery of science and the creativity of the scientist’s mind with the curiosity of the observer as a much wider slice of humanity.
Right: Van Gogh's Ocean by Suoqing Ji First Place Resembling the vigorous life that surges below the sea level, this picture visualizes the structure of a magnetic field in a high-resolution simulation, when the shock (moving upward) hits magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) turbulence. MHD turbulence refers to turbulence with a magnetic field embedded. Turbulence is very common (such as water flowing over a ship, or smoke rising from a chimney), while on Earth, turbulence with a magnetic field is not, because an extremely high temperature is needed to ionize gas. However, more than 99.9% of matter in our universe exists in the form of ionized gas (our Earth of neutral materials is just a fortunate exception), which is why studying the behavior of MHD turbulence is essential for understanding our universe. The picture vividly portrays the detailed interaction between shocks and MHD turbulence, as well as the evolution of the magnetic field during this process, such as the growth in magnetic field strength, stretching of field lines, and development of magnetic eddies due to coalescence processes. The picture was produced from a high-resolution MHD simulation and converted into a vectorized format.
This year marked the third annual competition. Since its inception, the Art of Science has drawn well over 100 image submissions from undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs across the science, math, engineering, and media arts and technology disciplines on our campus. Each year 1012 winning pieces go on exhibit at the campus Library and have ventured as far off campus as the Santa Barbara Museum of Art with the goal of sharing these stories of mystery and discovery with our community. This year you'll find the 2016 images on exhibit at the UCSB Library in summer, and the UCSB Art, Design, & Architecture Museum's Jewel Box in Fall. The 2015 entries are on exhibit in Elings Hall.
Left: Dynamically Tunable Color of Cells in Squid Skin by Danny DeMartini Second Place In this image resembling Monet's “Water Lilies” in micro-scale, a wave of color ripples through a squid’s skin cells as they’re activated to progressively reflect colors of the rainbow. Proteins in the cell’s nanoscale reflective structures drive these “biophotonic” changes for camouflage or signaling. I used a regular microscope with a simple camera to take an image of light reflected from the squid skin. After adding a drop of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to a spot on the sample (corresponding to the top of the image), I waited about 30 seconds to click the shutter until the wave of activated color lit up the entire sample. The squid can selectively tune these cells to reflect any color; the process is reversible and repeats cyclically. (Each object shown is a single cell, about 10 micrometers long; the dark spot in the center of each cell corresponds to the position of the nucleus.) This photo was selected as the cover image for the Journal of Biological Chemistry (June 12, 2015), in which my research article was published.
Above: lu:.ki.dus by Juan Manuel Escalante and Kurt Kaminski Third Place Tie Cross-polarization and darkfield microscopy highlight the edges of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) crystals grown as part of a live audio-visual performance. The performance took place in UCSB’s transLAB during the Media Arts & Technology End of Year Show vin 2015. As Kurt prepared chemicals and Juan Manuel executed a digital music composition, audience members experienced a story of material, forces, and scale. Control of the microscope ebbed and flowed between the two artists in rhythmic choreography. “lu:.ki.dus” is the International Phonetic Alphabet spelling of “lucidus,” a Latin word for brilliance or illumination.
Using microscopes as live performance instruments offers image synthesis that engages natural processes, human perception, probability, and entropy. These devices present many challenges to a performer, however, such as image capture, subject preparation, stage and focus adjustment, and illumination control. Automating a subset of these tasks gives the artist freedom to execute a performance with greater speed and accuracy, allowing for more engaging narratives and sophisticated techniques to be explored. Kurt seeks to incorporate computer vision and robotics to create a unified performance instrument.
There is something awe-inspiring about scientific research and discovery. It harnesses our curiosity, creativity and yearning to unveil the mysteries of the natural world through careful observation and thought. And if you pay close attention with open eyes and minds, the results never cease to amaze. Whether through community initiatives such as the â€œArt of Scienceâ€? or personal interactions we have in our day-to-day lives, we all benefit from a world that recognizes the intellectual and creative depth within each of us.
Below: Selective Swelling by Christian Pester Third Place Tie This micrograph shows a chemically binary pattern of two different types of polymers: vone hydrophobic and one hydrophilic. The combination of very hydrophobic and hydrophilic regions (the former rejects water, the latter takes up water) produces substrates with distinctly selective swelling behavior. This swelling of the hydrophilic regions results in the differences in color; local film thickness variations form an array of colors resulting from optical interference under the microscope.
Join the team today.
COMPOSITE FASHION , INS P IRATION , AND LIFESTYLE FOR STEM MAJORS
PICTURE A SCIENTIST. The popular image of a STEM professional or student is woefully inaccurate. We aim to bridge this gap by showcasing how...
Published on Sep 29, 2016
PICTURE A SCIENTIST. The popular image of a STEM professional or student is woefully inaccurate. We aim to bridge this gap by showcasing how...