My 2020 in review – Life Update #2

Let me update you...

It’s been a while since I’ve been regularly active on this page so I thought it would only be fair I give a decent explanation, and a quick update on what I’ve been up to.

This last semester was pretty tough for me but I managed to make it through with some surprisingly good grades compared to what I thought. Now that I’m hopefully back on track, I can try to post here more often (the promise I keep making and breaking).

I decided to stay in Germany over summer & it was beautiful 🙂 

2020 is finally over

Raise your hand if at one point you thought COVID-19 would be over by 2021. Go on. I have to admit, I did too. But while COVID-19 was dominating the news, other things went unnoticed. For example, besides the obvious advance in COVID-19 science, 2020 was a fantastic year for science in terms of discoveries and research. Just a few of these include the discovery of a new reef the height of the empire state building in Australia, SpaceX bringing 4 astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time and, as I’ve written about, DeepMind’s AlphaFold program providing a huge step forward in protein science.

As one of my Professors said, “Crisis is always a good time for Science” and he couldn’t be more right. Times of crisis encourage the donation of funds for cutting edge scientific research which is often underfunded. I’m pretty sure my professor will never read this so I think I’m safe from copyright infringement issues 😉.

COVID-19 really sucks

It would be an understatement to say that when it was first reported in December of 2019, most of the world underestimated the power of the Coronavirus. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on not only international travel & trade, but also the daily life of people across the world.

Study wise, the news was filled with headlines of British universities closing their doors to students and imposing harsh lockdown rules on student accommodation after some university colleges became almost completely infected with COVID-19. Many of my old Hong Kong school friends have had their University studies suspended for a period of time, and none have returned to in-person classes as yet. 

With that, I really have to give my University credit for how it has handled the COVID-19 situation. Compared to many other worldwide universities, we have continued with teaching all throughout COVID-19 pandemic, and were even able to safely return to in-person classes and lab courses, of course with restrictions, from August through to December. In fact, just this week I have been involved in an in person lab course in Medicinal Chemistry.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand...

What about the Chemistry?

As for Chemistry, I think I have found the one. It’s called Synthetic Organic Chemistry but you can think of it as nano-scale lego with world scale applications. I don’t want to speak too soon but I really think that this is what I’d like to be doing for, well, the rest of my life.

As I mentioned in my last ‘Life Update’, I was given the opportunity to get involved in Research with a Professor of mine in the area of Synthetic Organic Chemistry. My time spent learning in that lab was the top highlight of 2020. Seeing how things were done firsthand and getting involved in some of the process was a dream come true and I loved it. I learnt a lot about how research actually works in reality, as opposed to the simplified content written in textbooks. Often textbooks will neatly write out reactions in their simplest form, but when you get in the lab and try to do it I can guarantee it’s never that simple. There are many other factors at play – so many that I’m thinking of posting about it.

My Flash Column

A flash column I did during my time in the Research lab to purify a product.

Unfortunately at the moment I am not able to be involved in lab research but not to worry – I will be back soon ;-).

As for my classes – I love all of them. Except for Industrial Biotechnology, which I love much less, but that’s ok. I have also discovered Analytical Chemistry – another extremely interesting field that goes almost hand in hand with Organic Chemistry. Analytical Chemistry was one of my favourite classes of 2020 because it’s not only fascinating but also extremely relevant. The professor (the same one as mentioned earlier!) really had an amazing way of putting the class material into context of it’s real world applications.

Also, I’m currently looking for a Summer internship in Organic Chemistry so if anyone happens to have contacts… I would be hugely appreciative 😉

To End: What I'm reading

If you haven’t already noticed or are new here, I love Chemistry more than anything else on the planet so I’m always on the look out for new interesting bits of knowledge. There are many exciting books in my reading list this year; among them is Fentanyl Inc. by Ben Westhoff. As the year progresses, I may consider reviewing more books from my reading list so stay tuned!

CURRENTLY READING - Fentanyl Inc. by Ben Westhoff

Fentanyl Inc. Ben Westhoff

An interesting insight into the roots of the Fentanyl & Opioid epidemic in the US and around the world. Fueled by increased prescriptions and lucrative marketing of opiod pain killers in the 90’s, more and more people turned to Heroin – a cheaper fix once their prescriptions ran out. Soon, drug cartels discovered Fentanyl and it’s analogues (cousins) and it’s extremely high potency. Now, almost all heroin and a large amount of meth & cocaine have added Fentanyl, but this increase in profit margins has lead to a large increase in drug related deaths due to improperly dosed Fentanyl.

So far an interesting read…

Drop a comment down below if you have anything you think I should post about!

See you all soon 😉😋

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Uncle Tony

    Continue with the hard work Alice, more importantly I can see your loving it , very happy for you.

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