G-STEM Scholars Travel to London
Enhancing Global Research and Education in STEM at Spelman College (G-STEM) provides a unique opportunity for STEM students who travel abroad to also conduct undergraduate research.
This Spring, mathematics major Shekiaya Gowans, C'2013, and chemistry major Kamile Williams, C'2013, were selected through a competitive application process for a $11,000 G-STEM grant and stipend to study and conduct research at the University of London-Queen Mary , and to complete a scientific research report when they return to Spelman in the Fall. The pair's research will be featured at Research Day 2013 under the direction of their Spelman faculty mentors Jakita Thomas, Ph.D., (Shekiaya) and Jean-Marie Dimandja, Ph.D. (Kamile).
In Their Own Words
Spelman Mentor: Jakita Thomas, Ph.D.
I chose to conduct research at the University of London-Queen Mary Queen because I really wanted to have a campus-type experience and I wanted to feel part of a community while studying abroad. I also wanted to be in East London because it is centrally located, but close enough to everything in London so I can often walk or catch the Tube (underground rail system) for a few stops. This is important to me because I would rather be able to walk than take public transportation everywhere. Walking allows me to get to know the city better.
I love living in London, and I have made many friends and have many fond memories. My friends and I often go out exploring different parts of the city; and we go shopping and out for dinner. It is wonderful trying all of the different cuisines. My best memory so far was London fashion week where I won a Canon competition. I also meet some of the designers. My funniest memories are when my friends and I ask local people for directions but pronounce the names of places incorrectly. This has resulted in a lot of confusion on a few occasions, and we always laugh when we find out how to actually say the names correctly compared to how we were saying them originally.
I found out about Queen Mary's through Arcadia which is a program provider. Students enroll at Queen Mary either through a provider like Arcadia, or they can enroll directly. I live with a mixture of British and international students; however, just by chance, the other study abroad participant I live with is also from Spelman College.
In the future I hope to work in operations research or computer science. I think this experience will definitely help me as employers are looking for someone who is well-traveled, has the skills needed to be independent, and is able to adapt to living abroad. I’ve enjoyed my time in London, and I am already thinking of how I might return in the future.
Spelman Mentor: Jean-Marie Dimandja, Ph.D.
Queen Mary was recommended to me by the Arcadia study abroad program who works closely with Spelman College. The program appealed to me because I was looking for somewhere very different and diverse than what I am accustomed to in college. Queen Mary has a huge overseas population so you get to meet students from all over the world.
The classes in particular are really interesting because of the level of diversity. In addition to the large number of international students who attend, there are also interesting characters who are not afraid to be themselves or be alternative. Seeing students with such a unique fashion sense and different, bold hair colors is the part I really enjoy the most.
Queen Mary allows you to study in other departments outside of your major so in addition to my chemistry classes and research I am taking a drama class and a linguistics class called Digital Literacy in Intercultural Communication. Both are really interesting, though it took some getting used since the course are quite different than my major classes.
Outside of my classes, I keep busy with a research fellowship (provided through G-STEM funding) in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. I work alongside others to create polymers that will be capable of detecting toxins. My schedule consists of classes in the mornings, Monday through Wednesday, and research on Thursdays and Fridays. During the evenings, I go to the park, study for my classes, and socialize with others. On the weekends, I venture out and enjoy London with my friends. I particularly like to explore the museums and markets.
Queen Mary allows you to study in other departments besides your major so in addition to my chemistry classes and research I am taking a drama class and a linguistics class, (digital literacy in intercultural communication). Both are really interesting, though it took some getting used to when taking such different subjects to my major.
I have really enjoyed my time here. I always thought the people in London would be quite snobbish, but they are really friendly. This helps me a lot because I am frequently lost and often asking for directions! There is obviously a lot to do in London as well so I am never bored. I particularly like Brick Lane and Canary Wharf. I’ve met many people through my classes, and I am also a member of the street dance society so it is a very social place.
I would encourage prospective students to consider the possibilities of studying abroad. It has been the best experience ever, so go for it!