Go Big or Go Home
Feels great to search for my name on Pub Med and see a publication! In the last month I have been a little absent from posting here on the blog. I have been quite swamped with work. However I presented my first poster, seminar, and proposal this month so it has been extremely productive. I hope to start working on another publication very soon and research is going well!
The new freezer’s dry erase board is a huge improvement over the last freezer. For those of you who don’t get the humor, be thankful that World of Warcraft hasn’t consumed your life at some point.
This week we are preparing for a program for high school students interested in science called Molecular Medicine in Action (MMIA). We are preparing a presentation portion for the students as well as a hands-on portion so the students will be able to see what induced pluripotent stem cells look like and learn why we are so interested in them. I am excited about giving a talk for this program because I really enjoy working with high school students and teaching interested parties about stem cells.
What I really want to talk about however is new presentation software I decided to use for this presentation. It is called Prezi. I was very excited about the ability it gives the user to make the presentation much more dynamic. I have sat through countless mind numbing Power Point presentations and did not want to subject the students to another one. I thought that since the goal was to show high school students that science is interesting this might be a good way. I went home and told my wife about how cool this software was only to hear she had been using it with her students for a year. I am going to have to try harder to keep up!
I have attached the preliminary PREZI I made for the MMIA meeting. Check it out. I think that Power Point is still superior for making slides, but using this to spice up the presentation portion seems great so far.
I am back to live action after a quick week off. I feel reenergized and ready to tackle science. Luckily I had frozen most of the cells I was maintaining in anticipation of Super Bowl weekend.
So in response to being out for a little while I thought I would talk a little bit about stress. We can ignore stress and keep working hard but eventually our bodies will win. Science is not a particularly stressful environment on a day-to-day basis. The work leaves a lot of time for thinking and reading. However lengthy bouts with failed experiments can raise the stress level significantly.
I think some of the best techniques I have found for lowering stress are simple enough and I am sure you have heard them before. I have listed them below:
- I find that exercising hard is the best way to lower stress levels. A long, hard run can cure stress. It is hard to remember stress when you are too tired from running several miles.
- Driving gives me a lot of time to think. This is good but when you’re stressed it can give you a lot of time to dwell. If you are dwelling on stressful things talk radio is much more engaging than music and can help pass the time in this situation.
- Take time to relax. I enjoy eating a nice meal or working on one of my hobbies.
- Go to sleep early. Extra sleep makes everyone feel better and more productive.
Do something that occupies your mind. I spend a good deal of time thinking about science but it is nice to think about other things too. Have something that you enjoy which you can brainstorm about or plan for the future about. For me this is helping athletes with diving. I can always come up with new training techniques and strategies for making them better and more competitive.
Attached is the picture that sums up my week. Super Bowl is everywhere in Indianapolis. My cells are rooting for the Giants to win!
After a nice relaxing weekend, I’m back to the grindstone.
The last couple weeks have had some successes and failures. I am in the midst of cloning experiments: not the Dolly the sheep kind, but the plasmid making kind. I am hoping to push forward into different types of experiments this week. Since I have now successfully produced some of the plasmids I was working on; I can now test their functionality in live cells and see if they accomplish the goals they were designed for. This means that I will be learning a lot of new techniques over the coming 2-3 weeks. I look forward to the change of pace because cloning can be a lot like hitting your head against a concrete wall. However, it does feel nice when you finally see colonies on a plate.
In case you are considering graduate school and have never worked in a lab before, I thought I would let everyone in on some key aspects of working in a tissue/cell culture lab. You can easily sum up a day with the phrase “hurry up and wait”. This is because working with living cells takes time. They must have time to react to new conditions, grow, replicate, or even differentiate. There are some pros and cons to tissue culture work that I will discuss in case your background may be in the physical sciences or some other field that does not typically work with live cells.
In my experience some types of lab work can be quite taxing on your time. If experiments are short it can be difficult to identify a stopping point in your day to read, eat, or go home. Especially if they are not yielding the results you may have hoped for. Days in labs like this tend to be long. However, these shorter experiments and techniques can allow you to accomplish a lot of work and compile enormous amounts of data in a short period of time. It’s good to consider whether your personality fits this relatively “high throughput” type of lab.
Tissue culture labs on the other hand require a person who is capable of enduring a bit of monotony. Many days may consist of waiting for cells to grow, changing media, or passing cells that have become too confluent. Experiments typically take several days and thus “high throughput” does not describe this type of work. On the other hand, in my opinion this type of work can be more exciting because the work tends to be much more translational in nature. Be sure that you understand that many types of cells need to be cared for every single day. This could include Christmas, Diwali, or Dashain. So while some days may yield more time for reading and planning, be prepared to be available when your cells need you.
I find that the cell/tissue culture lab tends to fit my lifestyle much better than the other style of lab. I am happy to show up every single day but do not get as excited about working long hours. While medical research borrows techniques from many types of fields, and thus a little of both should be expected in any lab, these two types of environments are important to consider when choosing your second home for your PhD.
Hello everyone! I thought that I would kick off my blog by telling everyone a little bit about myself. We can delve into the specifics of what I do here at IUSM and why at a later date.
I am originally from western Kentucky. I started out my life with a considerable country sounding accent because of this. I moved to southern Indiana just outside of Louisville when I was 5 years old and spent most of my life there until I moved to Indianapolis last year. My high school years consisted of various extracurricular activities such as diving, running, and a good deal of studying.
When I graduated high school as a Junior I started to attend Indiana University Southeast (IUS) to finish up needed credits for my high school diploma and to start on my college courses. This decision was met with some considerable disapproval from teachers and my mother. I took courses at IUS for a year and then transferred to the University of Louisville to get a taste of college life at a large university, pursue chemical engineering, and primarily to join the diving team in the Big East Conference. I loved diving, but not much else about the move, and transferred back to IUS as soon as I could. I loved the small school feel of IUS and didn’t like engineering’s focus on math instead of science. At IUS for the following 3 years I studied chemistry and biochemistry while working as a motorcycle parts salesman, cabinet maker, jewelry salesman, and the diving coach for a local high school, Floyd Central.
I have many, many interests. I love to dive as mentioned earlier. I enjoy this passion through staying active with the sport in the Indianapolis area, which is arguably the center of the diving world (don’t think about China’s 7 gold medals and this holds true). I also enjoy carpentry which I use frequently as I work on fixing up a house my wife and I purchased when we moved to Indianapolis. I also love to travel; I’m pretty sure that I could become a nomad because of this. One of my quirkier hobbies is buying and selling vehicles. I love the thrill of the hunt, negotiating on price, and then fixing them up.
I try to live life fully. I am always busy and I think this is the best way to stay happy. I am a big proponent of always being happy and optimistic. I believe this is a necessary quality in science because failure is inevitable… but so is success. I believe that if you can’t change the problem then change your attitude, but I believe you can always change the problem.
Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight into who I am, where I came from, and what I stand for.