Research:

For the last week of research, I focused on creating a metal organic framework in the hydrogel. This involved forming a solution of printable gel with copper as solute, which was then exposed to an organic solution. I tried both octanol and hexane as the solvent for the organic solutions. Neither of these solutions noticeably improved the hydrogel’s mechanical properties. While it appears that some of the MOF might have been created, it was not significant enough to affect the gel. Because research can be a difficult task, results like this are a common occurrence.

Prints with the copper solution.

On my last day, I went out to eat Korean BBQ with Prof. Park and two of the other researchers. Saying goodbye to the people in the lab was sad, but it was very good working with them. I learned a lot with them and I’m very grateful for the time I had.

Excursions:

I made a trip to Jeju Island with most of the cohort for the last weekend in South Korea. The island is Korea’s tourist destination, like an equivalent of Hawaii. There is a massive volcanic mountain at the center of the island, the top of which was usually masked by the clouds while I was there. We visited markets, beaches, natural and cultural landmarks. One of the two places I enjoyed most was the Jeju Hallim lava cave system. These are underground tubes formed by rushing lava, and then altered by sand and saltwater spray for thousands of years.

Inside the Hyeopjae Cave.

Another place I really enjoyed was the Jeongbang Waterfall. It was a really beautiful and powerful waterfall. Even across the small lake at the base, you can feel the wind blowing and water spraying from the massive energy release of the system.

The roar of the crashing water was tremendous.

After Jeju, I flew back to Seoul to take the US entry Covid test with the other scholars, then took a bus back to Daejeon to pack, and then the next day a bus back to Seoul, a fast-paced close to that weekend. In the capital, we visited Lotte World, a premiere theme park in Korea, and spent time together prior to our flight home.