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Hello readers. I am Nikhil Sethia, a junior undergraduate majoring in Chemical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India. I worked under the guidance of Dr. Shukla during my 2nd year summer vacations. It was my first experience in a foreign country and I am sure I couldn’t have got a much better start than this. Being in United States I realized why it is called a developed country. It is advanced in each and every aspect of technology but that’s not the only case as people here are very welcoming and helpful. The transport system impressed me the most there. The stop chains inside the bus, tilting of the bus for senior citizen’s entry and laying out pavement for the entry of wheelchairs are signs of advancement. The self-billing system, traffic and park meter system were also new to me. Greenery along the roads in pleasant summer months makes Urbana-Champaign the best place to work during the summers.

The project that I worked upon was titled “Identifying the key coordinates of an Eigen-process”. My work was to design computer code to obtain the important features of protein dynamics from the available simulation data set. Since this work was completely new to me, the first couple of weeks were dedicated to learning the required concepts and skills. This was made possible with the help of the research papers reading, online sources and the priceless help of the group. For coding, I used ipython and it’s various libraries. I also learnt to use softwares like VMD. All the work was done on the personal computer present in the lab, which was accessible even at mid-night. I identified the important features of the Beta-2 Adrenergic Receptor via three different methods. The final results were in agreement with each other and were also verified with the earlier work done by the group.

‘Shukla Group’ is very hardworking and each member was very helpful towards the dumbest doubts I had. They provided me an amazing support all over my stay there. The Blue Waters, a super computer that is available at UIUC is accessible for research work. The group follows a very systematic schedule all over the week. It includes group presentation by a lab member, group lunch, group lecture & individual meetings to continuously work harder towards their goals. There are also some fun group activities at times, which were very creative and enjoyable. Dr. Shukla is a very hard working and very approachable person on a daily basis. He guided me every time without which I wouldn’t have been able to complete the assigned project.