2015 Week 7 – Tammy Craven and Zach Sherman

When I first came to Memphis this summer, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to Memphis nor had I ever met anyone from Memphis. I am so grateful that the TI Fellowship has given me a welcoming community in this new city.  I have really enjoyed exploring Memphis with the other fellows and participating in the many interesting opportunities provided by the Fellowship to learn about Memphis’ great culture. After seven weeks here, I have grown to become very comfortable in Memphis and appreciate the city. I have also had a great experience so far at my internship at Expeditors, a logistics company. I have been learning a lot about the logistics industry and have enjoyed the opportunity to experience an office environment.

This past week was another busy one for the Fellows. We all attended the ConnecTI happy hour at Strano in the Cooper Young area. It was nice to explore another fun area of Memphis other than Downtown. I always like our weekly Thursday happy hours so that we can all catch up and talk about our work weeks. We had the opportunity to visit StartCo, a startup accelerator, on Friday afternoon. It was really interesting to hear about the entrepreneurial opportunities in Memphis. We also went to our second ConnecTI Underground Shabbat service Friday night. Although I really enjoy our Fellowship Shabbat dinners, this was a nice change of pace. It’s exciting to see the young Jewish community together. Our final event of the week was a delicious Brazilian BBQ dinner at the Orgels’. I spent the rest of the weekend with the other Fellows eating at downtown restaurants, exploring Beale Street and, despite the crazy heat, hanging out at the pool at our apartment building.

Sarah, Tammy, Leah, and Sarah on Beale Street

Sarah, Tammy, Leah, and Sarah on Beale Street

We’ve already had an exciting start to this week since we got to meet with Congressman Steve Cohen Monday afternoon. It was really interesting to hear about his experiences and about how Judaism affects his life as a politician. I’m looking forward to all the upcoming events in the final weeks of the Fellowship!

Congressman Steve Cohen and the Fellows

Congressman Steve Cohen and the Fellows

– Tammy Craven


Memphis has been my home since I was born, but my time with the TI Fellowship has really shown me a side of Memphis I had mostly missed out on. I am working as a research assistant at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Hospital, in the lab of Dr. Michael Levin. I am researching treatments for multiple sclerosis and learning new techniques in the lab. I have looked at gene expression patterns in the livers and brains of mice who were given EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalitis), a basic model of MS for mice. More recently, I have done similar expression analyses on micro-RNAs found in human serum. This was the first time I have ever handled human samples in the lab, and I found it exceedingly interesting. In the past week, I have been tasked by the lab supervisor, Dr. Lidia Gardner, with administering daily injections to nearly fifty mice in the animal facility. Doing these injections, entirely without her supervision, showed me just how independent I have become in the lab after only a few weeks of practice. While I have done research in previous summers, the hospital setting makes this a very different experience. Previously, I had worked under PhDs in facilities which were dedicated purely to research. While I am working in a research lab, the fact that Dr. Levin is an MD as well as the chief of neurology at the VA has allowed me greater access to the physician’s side of the hospital. I have been permitted to go on rounds with the residents and medical students and to sit in on weekly meetings where the attending physicians discuss complex cases with the residents. A quick email to Dr. Levin also got me in touch with Dr. Weiman, the chief of surgery, who permitted me to observe a CABG (coronary artery bypass graft, pronounced “cabbage”) procedure he was performing the next day. I stood in the OR for nearly four hours watching the procedure, and saw a beating heart for the first time!

Zach and Matt Bishop

As a group, the TI Fellows are all a great bunch. We had a cook-out at the Orgels’ house on Sunday. There was great food, great conversation, and we all had a good time. Living downtown has also been a fun part of the program. We are in walking distance to a bunch of great restaurants and clubs, and just three blocks from Beale Street. A couple weeks ago, I went to a Hey Marseilles and Mates of State concert. I had been fans of these bands for years, but this was the first time I got to see them. I got a membership to the YMCA, which is just around the corner from our apartments, and I use their gym many mornings before work. Seeing the city wake up as I work out has shown me that, while I have lived in this city my entire life, there are still ways in which I can get to know it.

– Zach Sherman

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