Week 1 – Tours and Training

Mar 15, 2020

Welcome back, everyone! This first week has really flown by. My first week on-site was super busy, but I had a ton of fun. 

My first few days were spent doing the required training and getting no less than three different tours of the building and labs. I managed to get all of the basic required government training like computer and lab safety done on my first day, which was a relief. Of course, I will also need further training for the specific equipment I will be using, but that’s a work in progress. So far, I have been shown how to use the microscope (it’s pretty similar to the ones I’ve used at school, just bigger, more powerful, and has a camera), the Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and attenuated total reflection (ATR). I was also given a demonstration of the x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which I will not be working with (they don’t want a highschooler working with x-rays, I wonder why…). The rest of the training will wait until I am back in the lab. There are a few projects I may work on using this equipment during my internship, but I am going to hold off on explaining them until we find out if I can keep working in the lab so I can actually do them.

For my outside research, I have begun reading R.M. Christie’s Colour Chemistry for background knowledge of the scientific side of pigments. This includes information on the makeup, properties, and interactions of pigments and other paint components. This will help me analyze the data I gather from the different tests I may conduct, as well as provide background information on pigments that may affect their use in history. 

With the current coronavirus outbreak in the Virginia-Maryland-DC area, I will not be at the Library of Congress during this coming week. However, I have coordinated with my on-site mentor to telework, so I will still be able to continue with my internship. So while I will not be able to gather data from lab tests, I can still continue with my senior project.

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