Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Jimmy Maiarana and I am a junior at the University of Richmond. I am spending this year studying abroad in the biomedical sciences division of the University of Oxford. I wrote my last post on December 15 and took a long desired trip home to Buffalo, New York for winter break. I was originally supposed to continue blogging on January 10 in anticipation for my next two terms at Oxford, but today is February 26 and this is my first blog. I apologize to my viewers and to the University of Richmond International Education Department for this long absence. Allow me to use this time to fill in some gaps.
Before I left for winter break in early December, I had an interview with Dr. Jim Thomson in the Steve Davies group at the Chemistry Research Laboratory of Oxford. Steve Davies is the Waynflete Professor of Chemistry at Oxford and he is a genius. He founded two organic chemistry research companies, Oxford Asymmetry and Oxford Diversity, back in the early 90s and sold them for £316 million in 2000. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Tetrahedron: Asymmetry, an international journal that presents research on asymmetry in chemistry. Upon my return from winter break, I had a second interview. This time, it was with Dr. Davies. I sat down in his office at 9:15 a.m. on my first Monday back to England. His presence is felt anywhere he goes, and as I walked in he motioned for me to sit down and then asked, “What do you know?” I proceeded to explain my chemistry experience that I had received from Dr. Downey and Dr. Myers at the University of Richmond. After talking for what felt like hours, but in reality was probably less than 45 seconds, Dr. Davies stopped me and asked, “Do you know that you are in the best chemistry research laboratory in the world?” I could feel the mood in the room lighten a little, so I laughed and responded, “Yes.” He said, “No, I am serious. You are in the best research lab in the world. It’s time to get to work.” I left his office with a big grin on my face knowing that most of my next three months would be spent in his building.
Most of the students that work in this lab are Ph.D candidates and post grads. They arrive at the lab by 8 a.m. and leave after 6pm. Many of them come in on weekends as well. I have never seen such commitment in any field of work. These men and women love what they do and it shows in their results. There is also a high level of attention to detail. A minor mistake could lower yields and cost lots of money. I can now see why students that are placed in this environment succeed after college. They are challenged every day and they must raise their standards to such a high degree of excellence that they are bound to succeed. I have been working in this lab for seven weeks and most of my time has been spent there. On weekends I have been catching up on my actual tutorial work (I am still taking the normal major and minor tutorials). Needless to say, this term has been very busy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Over the course of the next few posts I will explain some of the other activities that I have enjoyed and let you in on new insights in the lab. Again, I would like to apologize for my absence, but I am back now! Have a great day, and I will write again soon.
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men- that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance