school

Initiate Panic Mode

It’s that time of the quarter again, so don’t expect a lot of updates from me this week. This morning I got the lovely surprise that my end of the quarter departmental research presentation was being moved from Tuesday March 15th to Friday March 11th, eliminating four days of preparation that I would have really appreciated. On top of that our professor finally passed out our take home final exam two weeks late…and I have to finish that while scrambling to finish my research. Gah.

At least this means I’m done with the quarter much earlier, so I effectively get two weeks of spring break instead of one. If last quarter is any indication, I will be quite inebriated Friday night.

So yeah. No sleep for me this week, and if I blog at all it’ll probably be while on the bus, which is about the only chance I’ll have to read blogs or write my own. Though, I could use those extra minutes to read more papers… aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Back to work. Yay grad school.

More quotes from the lab

There’s another first year graduate student rotating in the same lab that I’m rotating in, though he’s working on a different project from me. How do our projects differ, you ask?

1st Year: *talking to another labmate about something completely off topic*
Post doc: Hey, that’s five minutes you just wasted that could have gone toward curing autism!
Me: That’s why I’m not studying autism.
Post doc: *laughs* So you can waste as much time as you like?
Me: Yep. Evolution’s not going anywhere!

Joking aside, I actually have been getting a lot of work done. For the fellow biologists: I run my first microarray on Tuesday! For the non-biologists: I get to do cool nerdy stuff I haven’t done before!

This is why I don’t consider myself a science blogger. Too lazy.

Grad school is hard

Obvious statement of the day, I know.

But grad school is also pretty cool. The new quarter has started, and here are my classes:

Advanced Genetic Analysis (first half) – basically how to set up experiments using a bazillion different genetic tricks in order to investigate, well, anything. You know how cool it was solving Punnett square problems? Yeah, it’s like that on steroids. …What do you mean Punnett squares aren’t cool?

Molecular Population Genetics and Evolution (second half)- I can’t wait for this class. Should rename it “Jen has a giant nerdgasm every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Introduction to Statistical and Computational Genomics – I know the title sounds scary, but this will likely be my easiest class. Half of the time is learning how to program in Python, which I pretty much already know. Probably won’t learn anything new until the last couple weeks, where we talk about classes. But the other half of the class is a lecture on bioinformatics, which I basically know nothing about, so that’ll be useful.

My lab rotation still is about human population genetics and evolution, but this time instead of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) I’m looking at copy number variants (CNVs). …If I was a good science blogger I would take the time to explain what those are, but I have to run to class. Sorry, you’re stuck with Wikipedia for now!

Nifty new video about the Secular Student Alliance

I command you to watch it. And if my decree is not enough motivation, you should totally watch it because it has cameos by Richard Dawkins, Brian Dalton (Mr. Deity), and Hemant Mehta:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d8nFJVfk1o&fs=1&hl=en_US]

While watching this video, I realized yet another thing that makes the Secular Student Alliance so awesome. Out of all the people featured, I have only not met one, and that was the guy from Africa. And out of the rest, I consider the majority friends rather than acquaintances, and some of them as very close friends. So not only did the SSA help make my club at Purdue a success, but I’ve personally made connections that I’ll have for a lifetime.

I’ve come a long way from thinking I was the only atheist out there. Thanks, SSA!

You know it's the end of the semester when…

…the only time you’re not in the lab is when you’re at home sleeping.

…and you seriously considered just sleeping at work to be more efficient, but didn’t want to smell the next day.

…so you leave the lab at 1am after being at work for 17 hours only because you have to catch the last bus home.

…and while you’re standing at the stop, two of your classmates comes to catch the last bus as well.

…and it’s not the first time you all have done that this week.

…and you still don’t feel prepared for everything that you have to finish.

Yay grad school. At least we’re all going insane together?

Grad School Spirit

From PhD comics:Uh…

1. I know we’re the Huskies, but I have no idea what our specific mascot is called. I see a lot of undergrads wearing sweaters that say “Dawgs” on them, is that related?

Wikipedia informs me our mascot is Harry the Husky. Um, okay. Purdue Pete is way cooler.2. Purple and gold, right? …*checks Wikipedia* Phew, I’m right. It’s not some crazy-specific description like Purdue’s “old gold” (yes, there is a difference).

3. I have no goddamn idea. The only reason I learned Purdue’s fight song was because we were basically brainwashed during freshmen orientation.

4. Division I, Pac 10. I only know this from going to my undergrad at another Division I school.

5. No idea.

6. Derp?

7. I went on a bus by it once!

2 points. I am a graduate student!

Hey, I’m not as bad as some people. I’ve now been inside seven buildings on campus! …Though I’ve only been inside two of those more than once. Sigh.

End of semester madness!

What am I up to? I’m writing a “fake” research proposal for one of my classes on doing a genome wide association study and exome sequencing to search for genetic components of homosexuality. I say “fake” because it’s a project for a class, not something I’m actually submitting to the NIH or NSF. Well, I mean, I could theoretically submit it as a grant if it ends up being super awesome and a mind-blowing scientific idea, but at this rate I’m just trying to not embarrass myself when turning it in.

On top of that I’m attempting to finish my actual research from this quarter since our presentations are next week. I’m not nervous about the speaking part – heck, I do that for fun now – but talking about science is a bit harder than making jokes about atheism. So, yeah, again – aiming for not embarrassing myself. Frantically trying to learn R to make my graphics, since my professor nearly had an aneurysm when he saw I was using Excel to make my charts.

Aren’t the end of quarters great?!

I know a lot of you are also students – consider this an open thread to complain about all the work you have to do and to procrastinate doing it. Non-students welcome to whine too.

Why my building has key cards


Now I just need to figure out how to make the doors say “Good morning, Ms. McCreight” instead of “Beep.” Then I’ll really be living in a sci-fi movie.

(Alternate reason why my building has key cards: To keep the undergrads out. I like my reason better.)

EDIT: I originally had pi = 0.6 because my project is currently looking at heterozygosity in humans, which is represented by pi, but I realized the inevitable nerd rage I would invoke when people would think I was too stupid to realize pi (approximately) = 3.14. So x it is.

…I have become too nerdy to make nerdy jokes, gah.

Not that this is shocking, but…

“Money for Science May Be Scarce With a Republican-Lead House.” From the NYTimes:

In the Republican platform, Pledge to America, the party vows to cut discretionary nonmilitary spending to 2008 levels. Under that plan, research and development at nonmilitary agencies — including those that sponsor science and health research — would fall 12.3 percent, to $57.8 billion, from the Mr. Obama’s request of $65.9 billion for fiscal year 2011.

An analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science looked at what would happen if all of the agencies were cut to the 2008 amounts. The National Institutes of Health would lose $2.9 billion, or 9 percent, of its research money. The National Science Foundation would lose more than $1 billion, or almost 19 percent, of its budget, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would lose $324 million, or 34 percent.

And guess who gets to apply for NSF and NIH fellowships and grants next fall? Yep, me! As if they weren’t hard enough to get already. I wasn’t planning on applying for fellowships this year, but maybe I should while there’s still money left.

Well, at least I’m in a somewhat more secure situation. My program guarantees a stipend for the full five years, so I’ll still be able to pay rent and feed myself. And my department has one of the most well funded research programs in the university, so my research project will still probably have funding, especially since I’ll be working on humans (humans really like to pour money into studying themselves).

But the vast majority of science graduate students aren’t so lucky. Even right now, it’s common for graduate students to depend on outside fellowships for their stipends. And if you’re not working on some sexy topic like human disease or biological warfare agents, those grants are going to become even more competitive.

I’m not so much concerned on missing out on the prestige and small raise that would come with an NSF fellowship. I’m concerned that the United States is likely going to fall even farther behind in science.

But hey, I can always go abroad for my post-doc…

I'm going to HUMP tonight!

…I mean the noun, not the verb! HUMP is Dan Savage’s brainchild – an amateur porn film festival right here in Seattle. I’m super excited. Everyone I’ve talked to who’s been before says it’s amazing – you know it’s going to be good when there’s a prize for “Best Humor.” And I hear the gays usually outdo the breeders, which is even better. It’s going to have some raw sexual energy I hope, especially when you see amateur porn from websites such as watchmygirlfriend.porn and think people alike are going to be attending – I’m looking forward in seeing all that turn up.

I still think a graduate school themed porno is just begging to be made. In fact, I might have to get in contact with somewhere like www.videoshd.xxx to make this a reality. Think of the possibilities:

Student A: Sigh, another night all alone in the lab.
Student B: *knock knock* I have a reagent delivery for you… in my pants.
Student A: Oh yeah baby, make me matriculate! *six years later* Almost… there…

It would give a whole new meaning to “interdisciplinary collaborations.” Maybe someone would make it for a site like https://www.sexm.xxx/ eventually. If we try enough, who knows?

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the shows on display at the festival, and I encourage you to do the same where you are. This may not be a link to their website, but it will help you be a little more included regardless. In the meantime, Feel free to amuse yourself with amusing graduate school themed innuendos and title suggestions in the comments.

You know you're a grad student when…

Your foursquare page looks like this:

Purdue to host intercollegiate Quidditch tournament

Why do all the awesome things happen after graduation?!

Purdue University is hosting an intercollegiate Quidditch tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 24), just days before the world debut of the final Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

The Hogwarts-looking Windsor Halls will serve as the backdrop as caped contestants chase gold-clad human snitches and launch balls through custom-made hoops, all while dashing around on broomsticks trying not to be leveled by bludger-bearing beaters.

Several colleges will send players, including Purdue, Ohio State, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois State, Ball State, Bowling Green State University, Carthage College, Miami of Ohio and Transylvania University. Purdue’s invitational tournament is scheduled for the same week as the DVD and Blu-ray release of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” Ultimate Edition, the movie in which Harry and Ron Weasley attend the Quidditch World Cup.

JEALOUS.

Of course, if the Harry Potter universe was real, my complete ineptitude in gym class would probably translate over into not being able to fly at all. Though if Ravenclaw can still have a decent team, maybe not all magical nerds are unathletic.

…*geek*