LifeChips IGERT fellows are required to participate in a high-intensity boot camp during the summer. LifeChips boot camp is designed to explain basic LifeChips concepts, introduce research in micro-engineering and experimental biology, and accelerate fellow entry into research programs.
Because the boot camp takes place before regular classes begin, students are free from other obligations, and faculty, postdocs, and senior graduate students are able to provide them with concentrated guidance and intensive interaction. Students spend full days Monday through Friday in this two-week immersion experience. Morning lectures are followed by afternoon labs. The first week’s morning lectures are general: on physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering as they relate to research in life chips, including the technologies that enable life chips, and their applications. Faculty members present the second week’s lectures to introduce research in their labs. Reinforcing the multiple-discipline concepts from week one and exposing students to the cutting edge, these lectures also will prepare students to select a faculty lab for their first rotation. During afternoon sessions, each trainee hosts a tour of their lab and provides peer training to students outside their discipline. Peer training topics have included electro-formation of giant liposomes, immunocytochemistry, miniprep, use of RT-qPCR, modeling the avian chemical compass, and device characterization, to name a few. LifeChips boot camp fosters appreciation and respect for once-unfamiliar disciplines, and bonding among classmates, senior students, postdocs, and faculty.