Name: Chet Johal
Concentration: Natural Sciences (perhaps focusing on materials science or philosophy of science)
Program: PRISE (Emmanuel Scholar from University of Cambridge)
Q: What does your research this summer entail?
A: I'm researching dielectric elastomers, which are basically bits of rubber that change shape when you put an electric current through them, and we think this is the future of muscles for soft robots, so as robots become increasingly used, soft robots are becoming a bigger industry, where we can use them underwater, in space, with humans, things like that, and these provide really good muscles for that. I'm trying to work out if we can change the structure of them by a plasticizing cross-linker, whether that can optimize their properties.
Q: Why did you apply to the Emmanuel Scholars program to study hear for the summer?
A: The opportunity to research at Harvard is amazing. It's a world-class institution. I wasn't sure if I wanted to do research or not, and this is the perfect way to find out. The community hear sounded fantastic. The Emmanuel Scholars from the year above said that you're basically going to have 10 weeks of fun, and you're going to be able to research at an amazing university, so a combination of those. Plus, Harvard's pretty cool.
Q: How was the summer played out? Has it met your expectations?
A: Definitely exceeded them. I think I'm finally understanding how the American system works. I really like the American uni system. I've really enjoyed meeting the Americans and the Harvard students, which form a majority of the research village. I think that's been the best bit, making new friends here and enjoying ourselves, going to Felipe's at 2 a.m., all these kind of things. It's been really fun. It's definitely exceeded my expectations.
Q: What has your favorite activity been?
A: The kayaking was pretty good, but I think the archery tag was the best because it was so different as well, and I'd never done it before. It was just awesome, so much fun.
Q: What has been the biggest thing you've learned this summer?
A: Harvard students stay up very late, and they like getting food at 2 a.m., so you have four meals a day really, which is kind of weird. We only have three. Also, your humor is very different. You explain your jokes a lot. You tell a joke and then tell why it's funny, and you take things a bit seriously, but we're quite ironic and a bit wry and make dark humor I would say. Those are the big surprises I'd say. But all good things.
Q: Would you recommend others to apply to the Emmanuel Scholars program?
A: 100 percent. I would say if they want a summer of fun and the ability to do amazing research and actually be paid for it (that's a small element). The fact that you get to do cool research and just have 10 weeks of fun, definitely big, big recommendations.
Q: If you had unlimited funding from Greg, what activity would you do?
A: I would invite Her Majesty the Queen to give a talk to educate the Americans about the power and the beauty of our queen..