My name is Tanya Ibarra and I will be beginning my senior year at Cal Poly Pomona as an Industrial Engineering student in the fall of 2015. When I first heard about the opportunity to perform research at the Lawrence Berkley National Lab, I became excited because I genuinely love to learn, but at the same time I was a bit nervous. Prior to this internship, I had basic knowledge about proteins and coding, but no knowledge about parallel programing. This internship was a special experience for me because I was able to spend time in beautiful northern California, learn valuable skills, and meet new people.
While I was in Berkley, I had a chance to explore the campus and see all the available resources the UC had to offer. It was a great opportunity because I am considering Berkeley as an option for graduate school. I also visited the Oakland Scientific Facility (OSF) where I was able to tour the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) that houses supercomputers.
Meeting and working with Dr. Crivelli was such a wonderful experience because she was a great mentor. She was supportive in helping me understand the background of the research. Before starting any assignment, I like to thoroughly inform myself of the process and purpose. What are the tests I am running? What is the end goal? I sat in Dr. Crivelli’s office and paid attention as she explained to me what The Critical Assessment of protein Structure Prediction (CASP) was, and how she started WeFold, a coopetition (cooperation and competition). I was able to learn more about Dr. Crivelli and her efforts to understand the process of protein folding.
Throughout my internship, I learned many useful skills. I learned how to approach a problem using computational methods and how to work on MAC’s terminal. I also learned to connect to the Carver supercomputer at NERSC using the terminal and Linux as the operating system. Using Carver, I learned how to write a script in parallel to submit the same job multiple times in order to complete a task faster, as opposed to submitting one job at a time. I was even tasked to write code in Python. I learned to utilize structural biology tools such as Meshi and Define Secondary Structure of Proteins (DSSP).
Having the opportunity to spend a summer doing research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab was an unforgettable experience. I am confident the valuable skills I learned will come in handy when conducting research and pursuing a Master’s Degree in the future.