The Graduate Student Education Committee seeks to raise the level of awareness of graduate education at McGovern Medical School with the goal of contributing to the long range development of the student and ultimately, the early career researcher. In conjunction with the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Committee fosters and encourages the creation of educational and networking opportunities.

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On the Road or in the Lab November 18, 2013

by Lihe Chen, Graduate Student, Division of Renal Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine

 As students, finding the time to relax is difficult. On the one hand, there are our experiments and the constant hope that they work as expected.  On the other hand, we really want to indulge ourselves without interruptions from “research”. Travel provides a balance between our work and personal lives. It is at once, exhilarating and exhausting and it can free our souls and sharpen our minds. Travel makes our world smaller and enriches our lives.

 If you are wondering what a week in Yellowstone would be like? My answer would be amazing!!! Without hesitation we headed to Yellowstone National Park in July. I think most people visit because of the lure of its irresistible beauty and the fact that the park is one of the Earth’s last, intact, natural ecosystems, replete with mountain wildlife, home to grizzly bears, bison, and elk.

 The routes that cross Yellowstone form a figure eight and split the park into the north and south loop. One of the most notable spots in this mysterious natural paradise is the well-preserved hot geysers. The air is pervaded by a smell that comes from deep below the earth when approaching the West Thumb Geyser Basin. These spots are along the shore of Yellowstone Lake, so when you set out to explore the geysers, you can also enjoy the endless lake. The most popular feature of the West Thumb is the Fishing Cone Geyser. It received its name from mountain explorers who recounted tales of catching trout and cooking it in the boiling waters without taking the fish off the line.   

 The other notable site in Yellowstone is the Old Faithful Geyser. It erupts about every 90 minutes. The air is charged with excitement as people excitedly crowd the area in anticipation of this magnificent show. Finally, this astonishing eruption shoots hot steam with full energy hundreds of feet into the air.

 We also visited the Grand Prismatic Spring. No words can describe the beauty of this rainbow colored wonder that is the largest hot spring in the United States and third largest in the world. Its striking coloration is unforgettable.

 We also spent a few days in other major locations like Mammoth, Fishing Bridge, Canyons, Artist Point, Lower Falls and briefly stopped at Yellowstone Lake Museum to learn about wildlife in the area.   Yellowstone has an amazing varying terrain suitable for all kinds of wildlife. Don’t be surprised if you have to stop your car and wait for a herd of bison to cross the road or look up to see hawks and eagles circling the sky. 

 I am thrilled to have spent seven memorable days there. Yellowstone offers countless opportunities for discovery.