Christina Xing '21 

Fai Lab, Department of Mathematics
Brandeis University

Christina Xing

Fellow Reflection: Conducting Research During a Pandemic

My research was mainly based on computer coding and mathematical conjectures; therefore, compared to other studies that need lab settings, mine is much easier to control. However, there are specific challenges and changes I had during this summer. For example, technology help was one of the hardest issues I have ever overcome during this research. Since this program is based on computer programming while I only learned to code fundamentally, it became hard for me to install software and write specific program steps.

Luckily, I reached out to my professor over Zoom, and he and his peers helped me a lot with all the syntax of the coding. Also, I signed up for free summer coding classes over the internet to improve my coding abilities.

Moreover, off-campus housing made it harder to have stable wifi to conduct fundamental literature researches. Therefore, I would download them all together and print them out first. Meanwhile, all the discussions and panels in the science department have been organized to fulfill my wish for talking to research fellows and provide us sufficient help in writing journals articles.

In this new environment during the summer, I have learned many things. Academically, I have learned how to code in python, LaTex, write a scientific research paper, perform mathematical proof of theories, present my research result accurately, and so on. On the other hand, this summer has taught me how to reach out to people like my mentor for help and utilize these school resources while living  off-campus.

Giving Back

During the pandemic I, as an International student, was worried more than others. My parents are in China facing the first wave of the COVID virus, while I was stuck in America and worrying about my friends. Luckily, one of my roommates, as the President of CSSA (Chinese student club on campus), was able to connect with our Embassy. They sent us tons of supplies in order to help us. My friends and I organized them into bags one by one while sending out emails to international students who are still in Boston. We delivered the supplies to students’ houses or apartments. During the 4 months of summer, we sent out supplies to more than 200 people, and we handed out the left over supplies (including masks, wipes and hand sanitizer) to surrounding neighbors as well.

I think it is very important during this special time that we could give back to the community. This fellowship gives me the opportunity to still live in America and conduct my research, so I feel like I need to do something in order to give back.