Tag Archives: Spring Break

Take a Break: Spring Break

Jennifer Khirallah, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. candidate

Spring break is a much needed mid-semester rest that everyone should take advantage of in some fashion. There are many ways to spend your spring break, whether its going somewhere warm, somewhere adventurous, or just staying home and relaxing! Regardless of what you do, it is a perfect time to prioritize rest and to do something that you enjoy.

There are plenty of vacation spots you can travel to (via car, bus, train) in the northeast, including Kennebunk, ME; Portsmouth, NH; Burlington, VT; and New York City, NY! The first two are quaint cities along the coast, with beautiful views and cute streets lined with shops. In Kennebunk check out Rococo Ice cream and the Marginal Way Walk (in adjacent town of Ogunquit, ME). In Portsmouth, make sure to go to Popovers on the Square and get some popovers to go! Burlington, VT is a little further north and you will see a picturesque city with breathtaking views of nature. Make sure to check out some of the thrift stores there for great finds! New York City is a bustling city full of life, especially at night. Go to Times Square, take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, or go up to the Top of the Rock for an amazing view!

If you are looking for a staycation, there are so many things to do in the Boston area. Go to some of the many spas and treat yourself to a massage, facial, or body scrub! Some of these include G20 or the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Spend a day in the North End and eat your way through all the delicious restaurants, my personal favorite being the Bricco store for a sandwich during lunch and Euno for dinner (checkout the basement). Visit some of the museums, such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, zoos, such as the Franklin Park Zoo, or the New England Aquarium (students free or discounted) in Boston and surrounding areas! Get out of the indoors and go for a hike at Blue Hills Reservation in Milton.

For my spring break, I am staying in New England and going to do a spa weekend to relax and rejuvenate! In previous years I have gone to NYC to see a show on Broadway and Washington, DC to visit friends!

No matter where you go, take some time to rest, relax, and have fun. Use this time to recharge and finish the semester out strong! Enjoy your spring break, you deserve it!

Spring Break!

Written by Amanda Franklin, Biology Ph.D. Candidate

Last week was spring break. And it is actually starting to feel like spring! The crocuses are coming up, the weather is getting warmer–slowly)–and the days are getting longer. It’s my favorite time of year. I love seeing the flowers everywhere and it’s nice to know winter is as far away as possible (I am not a fan of the cold!).

This spring break I did not leave Boston. Instead I used the break to catch up on work. I’m a grad student in the Biology department at Tufts and I research communication in stomatopods (mantis shrimp—pods for short). If you don’t already know, stomatopods are the coolest animals ever! They have the most complex vision that we know of and they punch so hard that they can break glass! Seriously, you should google them.

Anyway, back to spring break. I needed to get new pods in the lab. This means I spent my spring break cleaning up The ‘Pod (yes, I do call my lab that). I realise this doesn’t sound enthralling, but it was a nice change from all the writing I’ve been doing recently. In a way, it was therapeutic. I just tuned into my favourite radio station, Triple J – it’s an Aussie station, I highly recommend it–and cleaned until the room was fit for 24 pods to live in.

Amanda Franklin 4-1-16 Blog pic 1

Me, cleaning my heart out.

This took a long time. You won’t believe how dirty a saltwater room can get. I hadn’t properly cleaned The ‘Pod since November – the last time I got new pods in. There was salt coating everything and a thin layer of algal growth on anything that was within a tank. I don’t use any bleach or soaps because this could harm the next animals I put in the tank. So it was all grunt work.

I also had to repair some tanks. Each tank is divided into three compartments. This is so I can have three pods in each tank. Without the dividers, the pods would fight each other. But I also need water to flow throughout the entire tank for filtration and aeration. So there are holes cut into the dividers which are covered with flyscreen. Unfortunately pods enjoy breaking through these. So I had to stick many of these back on. I also had to put dividers in two new tanks because two old tanks had a leak.

Me, cleaning my heart out.

There are eight of these fly screen coverings in each of eight tanks. Lucky I didn’t have to repair every one!

After all this, I refilled all the tanks, checked all the filters and heaters were working and voila! I had a clean pod room. It did take me the entire week, but it’s worth the effort to keep the stomatopods happy!

Amanda Franklin 4-1-16 Blog pic 3

Sparkling clean! I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo so you’ll have to trust me, it’s MUCH better.

And this week I got a delivery of new pods! I have an excellent supplier, Keith, in Florida. He catches as many pods as I need and ships them overnight to Tufts. I have never had one die during transit when ordering from Keith. I am now a proud mum of dozens of stomatopods!

Amanda Franklin 4-1-16 Blog pic 5 Amanda Franklin 4-1-16 Blog pic 4

Two new pods in the lab! The left is a female and the right is a male.

Even though I didn’t travel for my spring break. I made excellent progress on my research. It is nice to use the time when I don’t have teaching or mentoring commitments to get a lot of work done. Also, it means I can take some time off in the summer to explore national parks with my family when they visit from Australia!