Matthew Zent

Matthew Zent

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June 16

I’ve been flying solo this week since Dr. Maher has been at a conference abroad. The majority of my time has been devoted to researching data visualization techniques and infographics. Part of our LabintheWild survey will consist of displaying to the user in an engaging way how they compare to others. As a team we are still haven’t pinpointed exactly how we will accomplish this, but it’s in the works.

Dr. Maher, Kaz, and I Skyped in on the 14th to polish our survey questions. One of the biggest problems I’ve encountered thus far has been a divide in the direction as a team we plan to go with the Q-Chef project. A common goal and understanding of the problem at hand is crucial. If my definition of what we are measuring differs from a team member’s, it becomes very difficult to come to agreement on how to properly find that measure. The only way to solve this is communication, which we’ve done a lot of!

Another weekend approaches and I look forward to the fun it brings. I’ve concluded our REU group is one of the closest on campus. It’s evident when we go to our weekly seminars that we are more of a community than the other groups. Maybe it’s all the meals we’ve been sharing together that keep us so close.

June 9

Week two was met with excitement and an eagerness to meet the rest of the Q-Chef team. Kaz skyped in with Dr. Maher and I on Tuesday. What a good feeling to have my ideas both challenged and back by a faculty member. One is a reward for intelligent thinking, while the other pushes me even harder.

One of the major goals of this week was to create our food curiosity survey mock up. Not only did we workshop the questions, but got feedback from other faculty on its readability and layout. Additionally, I’m almost done the online version of our question set. I’ve created two versions depending on how we decide to host the page, one in javascript and a more basic page on Google Forms. Soon enough we will be able to send in our IRB approval application, once we solidify the question set.

On a lighter note, Friday’s challenge course was a refreshing step out of the lab. It’s obvious to me I’m lucky to get to play/work this great group of people. Not only that, but I’m extremely impressed in how well all of us mesh together. Two weeks have gone by in a flash. It’s starting to dawn on me that I’m going to have to say goodbye to all these new people I’ve met soon.

June 2

The nerves were real flying into Charlotte Sunday. This was to be expected with the bombardment of a new environment coupled with new faces and no idea where this summer will take me. But, new lasts as long as you want and with one week down I’m definitely more comfortable on this new campus.

After meeting with Dr. Maher, I was able to get a grasp of what amazing project I will be a part of this summer. Next, came the plan. Milestones and things to look forward to made my goals feel closer in my grasp. What is are my goals? Hmm, good question. I flew into Charlotte with the goal of learning what it means to do research in order to answer the question of whether I should go to graduate school. I think that has changed and took a metamorphosis in these past few days. I would like to be a part of something this summer I am proud to tell people that I worked on. If I figure out if graduate school is for me on the way, then perfect!

Week one has been full of reviewing other people’s work and listening in on other project meetings to get an understanding of what it means to do research and to obtain a better grasp of the realm curiosity as it relates to food. Looking forward to next week I hope to create a comprehensive list of questions on curiosity and food preference to get started on creating a survey to collect data. Additionally, I will be meeting with the rest of the Q-Chef team and continuing to look in on many other of Dr. Maher’s projects. Don’t worry about me, this summer is mine.