The View from Pittsburgh

My hometown of Pittsburgh is a very unique city, because of its industrial roots. Previously, those who lived in Pittsburgh worked in coal mines and factories for at least 16 hours a day, meaning that there would be long stretches where these employees never saw the sun. Sadly, because of the smoke and dust from these industries, there was a semi-permanent cloud over all of the city, which made the entire area dark even for those who could be outside in the middle of the day. Although today Pittsburgh’s skies are free from the industrial haze, the climate of the town results in a city that experiences, on average, only about 120 sunny days a year. All of this rain physically prevents people from leaving their houses and enjoying the outdoors, because the weather leaves much to be desired. When the weather is bad, American citizens all across the country look at this development as an impediment instead of an opportunity. We try to create some sort of stability between the winter and summer months and rainy and sunny days instead of simply embracing the extremes.

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Drawing the Party Line: History and Technology

To start off my first update, here’s a picture of what might be the first case of gerrymandering.

A brief apology for the henrymandering joke, which was also made in a WashPo article by interviewee C. Douglas Smith, who once judged my We the People unit group and is a genuinely very nice man. Sorry I stole your joke, Mr. Smith.

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There is No Vulgarity in Revolt Part 3: The Disruptive Aesthetics of Vorticist Painting

“The Vorticists at the Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel: Spring 1915” -William Roberts, 1961-1962

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Finally looking at paintings!

Because this blog isn’t very image-friendly, and I expect to analyze around 50 images, I decided to keep all of my info into a soon-to-be gigantic Google Slides file.

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The biggest step you can take is the first step: preliminary research


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Research Check-In Part 2

The current goal for my project is to synthesize a functional catalyst for the hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) of significant yield. Several mechanistic reaction pathways have been proposed, including methods used by lab members in past years, as well as methods from published literature. For each attempt to correctly synthesize the ligand (where the “ligand’ is a compound that will later be attached to a metal to make up the catalyst), I must perform the reaction, and then test it to see whether or not the reaction worked and whether or not I have truly synthetized what I’m looking for. The difficulty stems not from the reaction itself, but from the post-reaction purification step, which involves lengthy separation of the compound from any impurities.  From the set-up of the initial reaction, to testing the purity of the molecule post-separation, the entire process of synthesizing a ligand can take from a few days to a week. With every attempt, there always variables that can be tweaked to improve the conditions of the procedure and thus increase yield of the product.


Over a month later, here I am again, back in the United States. At the moment, I have 22 respondents in both my English and Spanish surveys. That pleases me (UGH that is Spanish grammar sneaking into my English) because I was hoping for at least 20 in each survey category. All the responses I have read through have been good, though some are more serious than others, and unfortunately some respondents didn’t address every question. I think though that having 20 from each country will minimize the effects of that issue.

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El americano no deseado: an Analysis of the Negative Opinion of Donald Trump among the Spanish Media (Post one)

When I first completed my research proposal, I planned to examine multiple forms of the Spanish media’s perspective of Donald Trump and the cultural/social representation of him. However, as my research progressed, I decided to narrow my research to newspaper articles, cartoons and the occasional magazine article. In the end, I read 100+ Spanish articles about Donald Trump from both right-leaning and left-leaning Spanish newspapers. Although there were a few articles, maybe three or four, that supported and advocated for Donald Trump, the mass majority were against the United States president. At first, I theorized that the overwhelming negative opinion of Donald Trump might be a result of the recent dictatorship, 1939-1975, of alt-right leader, Francisco Franco. However, my research did not find sufficient evidence for this. I did not encounter any articles comparing Franco to President Trump. When I interviewed a reporter and asked her if the comparison between Franco and Trump is just, she replied that it was not. In fact, she said that the two are very different, both in their culture and politics, and could not possibly be compared. In my next post I will discuss my findings for the reasoning behind the ubiquitous negative opinion of Donald Trump in place of the Franco theory.

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Second Week with Mutant Receptors!

During my second week in the Allison lab, I continued my work with the thyroid hormone receptor alpha 1 (TRa1). My transfected HeLa cells from last week had been stained, fixed and were ready to view under fluorescence microscopy. However, during this time I also had to replicate additional DNA plasmids that would express my wild type (wt-TRa1) and mutant receptors (described here and in my future posts as tc-TRa1 and hcc-TRa1)* if I wanted to continue my experiments. I did this through a process known as bacterial transformation, where I inserted the expression vectors for human TRa1 coupled with a gene for antimicrobial resistance into Escherichia coli cells and then allowed them to grow on plates with kanamycin, selecting only for those colonies that had taken up the plasmid. Later on, I isolated and purified the genetic material from the E. coli colonies to obtain a higher amount of my DNA plasmids.

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Prime Ministership, Acting Presidency, First Term: Coverage of Putin August 1999-May 2004

As the current news cycle revolves around Russian lawyers, the Trump family, compromising information and, inevitably, Vladimir Putin, I’ve been delving into older news reports of the man, using the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, two reputable papers with slightly different bents. So far, I’ve read articles about Putin from August 1999, when he was nominated to be Yeltsin’s Prime Minister, to May 2004, when he was inaugurated for his second term. Here, I’m first going to draw out some of the most important events in these five years, and then nail down the broader trends that stuck out to me the most.

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