A Kameo Appearance

Just a third culture kid's musings on Baltimore, Biomedical Engineering, burgers, and everything in between. *Disclaimer: Not everything discussed within these blogs begins with the letter B.

Author: Kamran S. (page 1 of 3)

Study? Nah. Here’s Some Videos to Procrastinate Instead

Right now, I’m sitting in a cube on B-Level attempting to study SBE (Systems Bioengineering – gross, I know). Instead of what probably is the healthier and more productive choice, I made the mistake of clicking that little red logo in my favorites, dooming me to fall down the rabbit hole that is YouTube. If you’re in a similar situation, sitting wherever you are procrastinating by reading this blog, here are a couple of videos to keep you preoccupied:


What It’s About: Kendrick’s “DAMN.” has taken the world by storm and propelled the Compton native to the heights of superstardom. Anyone who’s even a remote fan of Kendrick’s knows how dense and wild his production is. This video breaks down all the samples on his album by playing them first in their original glory, then switching to the song on which they’re sampled on the album. It’s impressive to think that people hear little snippets like these and think: “That would go great with this beat.”


What It’s About: FBE, the channel that produces this video, is known for their videos in which they film people’s their reactions to various movies, trailers, artists, etc. In this one, they take a bunch of adults (who are abnormally close in age to me; pretty sure I’m still a child), and show them a bunch of music videos of songs that I’m sure you’ll know. Watch the reactions, and try not to sing along. It’s harder than you think.


What It’s About: You, me, and anyone else like us doing exactly what we’re doing right now. In this TED talk, Tim Urban breaks down the mind of a procrastinator simply, elegantly, and with the help of a cartoon monkey. What’s not to love? By the end of it, you’ll probably even want to go back to work and avoid moving on to number four on this list.


What It’s About: The music video for this classic song. If for no other reason, watch it to see Slash’s legendary guitar solo.


What It’s About: One of my favorite videos – Vox breaks down the evolution of rhyme schemes in rap, starting from the very beginning. It’s crazy to see how far and complex rhyme has come from the classic ABAB scheme. Give it a watch and I’m sure you’ll come out the other side with a whole new appreciation for the skill it takes to come up with rap verses.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for you. Let’s get back to being productive. 

How to Land an Internship

I’ve been slacking in my blog posts this summer, I know, and I apologize for that. Time has been funny lately, with days turning into weeks int he blink of an eye. All of a sudden, I’m a little over a month away from going back to Hopkins, but summer feels like it just started.

Nevertheless, this is a post I’ve been meaning to make for a while, and hopefully one that will come in handy to all the people reading it that may be in a similar position. For the last seven weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to work as an intern at a medical device company about ten minutes from my house. Hopefully, my next post will elaborate more on the nitty gritty of the work, but today I want to focus on something equally as important: how to get an internship.

Internships are incredibly elusive. Sure, the idea of sending in a resume and landing a job sounds easy; really, it’s anything but.

There’s no magic three step solution to landing an internship; in all honesty, a lot of it comes down to being plain lucky. However, there are a few sure fire ways you can increase your chances.

1. Know how to sell yourself.
Having the abilities and the grades is only half the battle when it comes to getting an internship. Everyone applying probably has good grades and something marketable. You need to be able to market yourself in a way that makes you an asset to the company you intend to work for. At the end of the day, the company will likely be doing you a service more so than they will be doing for themselves in the short term, but being able to sell yourself as an investment that will pay off in the long run will invariably get you a seat at their table.

2. Do your research.
Treat applying for an internship the same way you would studying for an exam. Research the companies you apply to. Figure out projects or devices that interest you and elaborate on those when applying. Show the person reading your application that you’re not just mass applying by copy-pasting, but that you legitimately took time out to apply and are interested in what the company has to offer.

3. Don’t be afraid to cold call and email.
This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give. Research emails of people at the companies you want to intern for and email them. It’s important to maintain professional etiquette and stick to a “one email per company” policy until you receive a reply. Another thing I did was actually call the numbers listed on the company websites and ask if the receptionist could direct me to someone regarding internship opportunities. Combining step 1 and step 2 here, you have a solid chance of getting real results.

4. Don’t get discouraged.
At the end of the day, internships are elusive. Some people won’t email you back, others will say they have no internship opportunities available at this time. Don’t let this stop you from moving forward. It took me nearly all of the school year to find an internship, and even then I didn’t have it secured until the week before finals ended. Keep your chin up and keep moving forward. If you put these steps into practice, you’ll be ahead of the pack.

The Morning Routine

Some people are morning people. They can get up early, get a head start on their day, and be genuinely happy about it.

I am not a morning person. Mornings and I are like Garfield and Mondays. Now even though I hate mornings, I do have a morning routine that I’ve managed to get down to a tee. This routine maximizes sleep while minimizing work to get to class on time. My first class on most days is at 10 AM. Here’s how the hours leading up to that go:

7:45 AM: Set an alarm to wake me up.

Now hold on, hear me out. We can all agree that the best sleep is the turning off the alarm and going back to sleep sleep, right? Well, I’ve figured out that if I set an alarm at 7:45, it’ll wake me up late enough that I could theoretically get up and get started on my day. Instead, I shut that guy off and get to fall blissfully back into sleep in the comfort of my bed for another hour and a half. Such as a satisfying feeling, trust me.

9:00: Set my first alarm to actually get me up.

I’m also one of those people that needs like 8 alarms to get out of bed, so I’m just going to fast forward through 9:05, 9:15, 9:20: 9:25, and 9:30.

9:35: Shut off the seventh alarm and look at the note on it that says “Get up now or you won’t get to class.” and actually drag myself out of bed. I generally tend to scan the room for what clothes are easily accessible and base my wardrobe on that.

9:40: At this point I need to hit the routine on clockwork otherwise I will be late to class. By 9:40 I’m in the bathroom brushing my teeth and cleaning my face up.

9:45: I can’t tell you how much time I’ve lost figuring out if my shoes will match with the rest of my clothes. So let’s toss 3 minutes to that.

9:48: Be dressed and frantically struggling to get out of the room by 9:50.

9:49: Toss all my stuff into my backpack, grab my earphones, and spend 10 seconds figuring out what song I want to listen to.

9:49:10: Head to the door but check the rule of three* before leaving.

9:50: Out the door and headed to the elevator, convinced beyond a doubt that this is the day I’m going to be late to class.

9:58: Make it to class, grab a seat, and get ready for lecture to start.

Repeat this for 14 weeks, and that’s my semester!

*Wallet, keys, phone. I’m 99% sure all guys do this by tapping their three pockets and making sure the appropriate object is there.

Sophomore Spring as a BME Major

As a BME major, sophomore spring is when you really begin to delve into the classes that teach you the practicality of biomedical engineering. Real engineering courses with a biological impact that begin to build the foundation of the major. It does seem a little late in the game for that, but it’s interesting nonetheless. The two classes that we take are Models & Simulations and Systems & Controls.

My bad, did I say two? I meant four.

Basically each “class” is really a combination of two classes, each of which lasts half a semester. Each grade in half of the overall course totals to be your overall grade. What are these courses? I’ll do my best to explain.

1)  Signals/Systems.

This is class that teaches you about the fundamental properties of actual electric/physical signals. The math here is entirely new and relies on previous experience in all your other math classes. Once you start to understand it though, it’s really interesting how the signals that make up our world can be broken down into these equations.

2) Controls

This course I’m taking right now. Essentially it’s using what you learn in signals to model the control of more complicated systems as a whole. A real world application would be like the control variables of a plane in the air. Interesting stuff.

3) Models

This course is more biologically focused. It’s meant to teach you how to model various biological processes with differential equations. Playing with the parameters and what not will yield various results within the body, and this class teaches you what all that means.

4) Simulations

This latter half of the ModSims class teaches you about taking those one-dimensional linear models from the first half and using them to simulate higher order nonlinear systems that are more biologically accurate. Essentially, not many things in real life are linear, so this teaches you how to use more accurate simulations  with the tools you have.

All in all, this is where the real aspect of biomedical engineering starts to come into play, and I for one am loving it.

Research at the Med Campus

This semester I decided to take on 3 credits of research down at the Johns Hopkins Medical campus. I figured if I’m going in to do the work I may as well get rewarded for my effort, right? Knowing that this is a hot button topic, I figured I’d outline quickly what my research is focused on this semester.

I’ll try and keep this as brief and straightforward as possible, so let’s start off with the concept of branches vs linear structures. There’s not much more to it than that. Linear structures are constructed in a straight line, while branched structures have multiple branches originating from a single location. Taking this concept and applying it to PBAEs (an acronym for a long polymer name), which are polymers that are used to bind with DNA.

PBAEs are positive and DNA is negative, so they like each other. When a PBAE and DNA love each other very much, they form what’s called a polyplex. Now a polyplex is basically a tightly packed nanoparticle that contains all the genetic information encoded by the DNA. Because a polyplex has no charge, it’s able to cross into a cell (which are generally negatively charged at the membrane) more easily than plain old DNA. Once inside, they can break apart and the DNA can be delivered directly to the nucleus, allowing for gene delivery.

My research this semester is focused on testing the effectiveness of branched PBAEs as opposed to linear PBAEs. The idea is that branched PBAEs are more effective, so we’re trying to prove that and see why it is. The work is definitely incredibly interesting, and it feels cool to be able to do something that seems so cool and complicated. This is just one of the thousands of projects happening at the medical institute. For anyone looking to do research, there’s something out there that’ll grip your interest as much as this project has gripped mine.


The past four days I was a chair for the Johns Hopkins Model UN Conference (JHUMUNC) (pronounced: Jhoo-monk).  It was my second year participating in the conference, and it absolutely exceeded my expectations. For those who don’t know, Model United Nations emulates the United Nations, with numerous committees all discussing different topics. As an individual, you are a delegate of a country representing that country in your respective committee. This year, I was the chair (chair = in charge of running) the Formula 1 committee.

If this weekend has taught me one thing, it’s that this conference is definitely worth attending, whether you’ve experienced Model UN before or not. First and foremost, it’s a 4 day getaway from the stress of academics at Hopkins, not to mention a free stay at the Hilton hotel. It’s also enlightening getting to meet people from all over the country coming together to participate.

As fun as I’m sure the conference was for the delegates, I think I might have enjoyed it even more. The responsibility of running an entire committee, and having the opportunity to mold things exactly to my liking was priceless. On top of that, nearly everyone else on the JHUMUNC staff was as passionate and interested in the conference as me.

To sum up, if you’re even considering applying for JHUMUNC, do it. I promise you won’t regret it.

Spring 2017

In the spirit of short and sweet blogs, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of the highlights of the spring semester, and the parts I’m most looking forward to.

1. Spring Fair!

First and foremost, I think I speak for a majority of the school when I say Spring Fair is the most hype weekend of the spring semester. It’s food, friends, and sunny weather for two days straight that everyone gets to spend *not* in the library.

2. Homecoming

Homecoming weekend is always fun. It’s a great chance to get out, watch some lacrosse, and enjoy the vibe around campus for a few days. Definitely a way relieve some stress and enjoy yourself.


With the spring semester comes the latest batch of new blue jays, which of course means SOHOP is right around the corner. Again, SOHOP serves as a time to take in the fresh air, look around at the fresh-faced incoming class and reminisce to a time that feels not so long ago.

4. My classes, believe it or not.

For the first time, I’m taking classes relevant to my major in a real sense. ModSim and SysCon are the first two real BME classes that serve a practical engineering purpose, and I’m excited to be able to learn what they have to offer. Aside from that, I’m taking my first programming class ever and doing awesome biomaterials research at the medical institute. Provided I can keep myself together, this semester should be one to remember.

The Hunt for an Internship

Hot off the heels of the fall semester, you’d think now would be the time I could sleep for 2 weeks straight, go out with friends, and enjoy life without a care in the world. Well, in a way, it definitely is.

But, just because classes are no longer at the forefront of my mind doesn’t mean there aren’t other important things that need to get done, namely: finding an internship. I’ve been at it for about a month and a half now, and it’s been quite the process. Going through and finding the internships to apply for alone isn’t too hard, but then making sure they suit your interests, qualifications, and parameters makes the task that much harder.

You might be asking, why do I need to get an internship? The answer is one that’s best summed up in two words: forward thinking. Internships are how you show to future employers and to graduate schools that you are passionate about what you’re studying and that you’ve actually had hands-on experience to back up that sentiment. Further, it emphasizes your abilities to do good work, making you a better candidate for future internships, and eventually, full time jobs.

At the moment, I’ve yet to land one, but I’m optimistic. I’ve had about a week to rest and recuperate from the landslide of work that was this past semester. Now, rejuvenated, I can get back into the search and burrow my head into my computer in search of the right internship.

I’ll keep y’all posted, but until then, happy new year!

How to Disrespect a Class

The other day a few friends and I were talking about classes over dinner. You know, normal stuff: finals, exams, grades, etc. During the conversation, one of my friends said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget – half because it was funny and half because it was incredibly accurate. He said: “You can’t disrespect the course. The course will do you dirty right back.”, and after laughing about it, I gave it some thought. The man had a point.

Then again, maybe you’re wondering what exactly disrespecting the class means. Well, good news, I’ve got a checklist just for you.

How to Disrespect a Class

  1. Skip all the lectures.

First and foremost, you’re not going to want to go to class. Like, at all. Sure, once and while you might wake up, hit your alarm clock and go “Man, I just really wanna go hear about partial differential equations today.”, but for the most part, skipping class is step one towards disrespecting a class.


We all know sleep is more important than grades.

  1. Don’t do the homework. Ever.

One of the beautiful things about college is you don’t have to do anything. So, if you don’t have to do the homework, why do it? Honestly, it’s a waste of time more than anything else. Who learns from practicing the material taught in lecture, anyways? Trick question: you’re not supposed to be going to lectures.

Oh, and if you do choose to do the homework every now and again, make sure you wait until the last possible minute.


Just keep running. I’m sure it’ll disappear.

  1. Never read ahead.

Let’s be real, what good is going ahead of the material going to do? We both know it’s a much better use of your time to sit back in bed, throw on some Netflix and eat unhealthy amounts of food for hours on end. Right? Right.


All the more reason not to read.

  1. Snapchat your professors while they lecture.

Okay, okay – so you managed to drag yourself to class. Now what? Take notes? Yeah, no. Correct answer: send Snapchats of your professor to everyone. I mean c’mon, who doesn’t want to see a dog filter on an esteemed professor while they try to teach you material that will inevitably decide your grade. I’ll tell you who does: your fans.


Well, you’re wrong.

Do all four of these things, and you’re well on your way to complete disrespect of a class. Go for it and let me know how it turns out.

On the other hand, avoid all four of these things and you’re well on your way to an A. Trust me, don’t disrespect a class. It never turns out well.


Dear Prospective Student

Dear Prospective Student

I’m not going to lie to you: my brain feels a little like mush right now. It’s the first day of Thanksgiving break and I just finished a round of 3 midterms (and a quiz) this morning. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this or what the purpose of this little letter is. As a member of Hopkins Interactive (HI), we’re told from day one that HI is designed to give you, the prospective student, a real insight into the world of a Hopkins student. Whether it be fun activities, classes, grades, majors, or whatever, we strive to make these posts so you can read them and paint an imaginary picture of the world at Hopkins and in Baltimore. Today I want to touch on the topic of exhaustion, because I don’t think it’s discussed nearly enough on here – and it is an ever-present part of life, not exclusively at Hopkins, but any college anywhere.

This exhaustion is by no means a bad thing – honestly, I feel incredibly accomplished after making it through a round of exams or a pile of work and into the weekend (or, in this case, Thanksgiving break). What is important is for you to realize and understand that it exists. There will be days or weeks that utterly drain you, and if there aren’t, then that’s probably a good sign of needing to re-evaluate the amount of work being put in. Believe me, I’ve been there. There will be times you’ll get back to your room, collapse on your bed, and sleep for longer than you’ve ever slept. There will be times that you’ll spend multiple days, weeks even, either in the library or in class and nowhere else* (if you’re like me, you’ll be in the Brody Reading Room). It’s both humbling and difficult. The difficulty though, is the kind that you push through to reap the rewards, because every time they’re absolutely worth it.

*I’d like to add a disclaimer that I’m taking a heavy course load this semester, and that this level of studying is by no means a (very) regular occurrence for other people.

I wanted to take a second to tell you this, because just as all the fun, friends, clubs, and independence is a fundamental part of college life, so are the exhaustion, work, and long nights of reading your textbook.

I’m out. Be back in a week.


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