Category Archives: biology

The grad school blues

A large portion of grad school is reading. Lots and lots of reading and doing what you can to synthesize the information into a whole and then do something with it. This is much more difficult than it may seem for a plethora of reasons, but when it really comes down to many areas of the literature the larger picture makes sense. Things are somewhat ordered.

This is not the case with the literature I’m reading for my project. The area I study seems to be nothing but a clusterfuck of randomness. However, the data is rarely presented this way which makes reading the papers that much more difficult. For instance, I just read a paper that had a very nice looking bar graph, but after reading the text I realized the data for that figure was only from ~15% of the cells they recorded from. I’m not saying that making the comparison they did wasn’t valid, it was, but it was also somewhat misleading since you kind of had to dig for the rest of the story.

This is really bringing something to light that I wish more people in my lab (really, just some of the higher ups) would recognize: the nucleus we study IS NOT HOMOGENOUS. All the cells share some basic characteristics, but that does not mean we can treat them as a homogenous group like we do. I’ve been fighting this stance since the beginning due to the literature and my own findings and while I seem to have convinced my peers the higher-ups still don’t apparently see it that way.

Science can be frustrating.


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Filed under animal research, biology, disease, grad school, neurobiology, parkinson's

Too long between posts…

For the first time in quite a while the science is going relatively well. I want to write about it, but with science being the way it is (and my boss being the way he is) I shouldn’t go into details. What I will say is that the optogenetics work I have been doing is finally coming to fruition and the postdoc who made it seem so fucking difficult was clearly just trying to dissuade me since my first animal gave me data. Bitch…

Had a group dinner where the lady I’m kind of interested in was also in attendance Wednesday night. We were kind of segregated from the rest of the group and ended up talking most of the dinner. Not gonna lie, there were some awkward times but I would like to feel that they were overshadowed by the not awkward times. I don’t know what to do about this woman. Is this one of those carpe diem times or is it more complicated than that due to my divorce situation? I’m leaning towards the former since at this age amazing single women are becoming more difficult to find by the day.

Overall, good shit. I like life again.

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Filed under biology, divorce, grad school, life, marriage, neurobiology, parkinson's


Turns out that going without internet still sucks (I did this a few years ago when I first split with my wife), but going without gas is even worse. Yeah, the morons from the gas company shut my gas off instead of beginning to charge me for it. I knew they were dumb, but this has been going on for a week now and I’m getting real sick of it. Cooking is my stress relief, so thank god there’s very little stress in my life right now

On a more positive note the divorce paperwork is all filled out and ready to go. Turns out it’s just checking a few boxes and signing your name about a dozen times (as long as you’re getting an awesome divorce like my wife and I). Have to say it looked much more intimidating than it really was.

My apartment is coming along nicely since I got my bed on Friday. I’m at work now, but when I get back I plan to put up a bunch of pictures and paintings and really help make my place feel more like my home. Still need to get rid of those boxes though…

And science-wise things are progressing quite nicely. This Thursday will be a trying time since the mice I injected with Channelrhodopsin will be ready to use and, fingers crossed, I get a boatload of data. In theory I can knock out all the data I need with just a few healthy animals with unique injections. It won’t work out quite that nicely, but I still have hope that all my training will get me through this.

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Filed under animal research, biology, divorce, grad school, life, marriage, neurobiology, parkinson's

Today was a good day

Outreach went well today. It was a tad bumpy early on and a few kinks needed to be worked out, but overall we got the kids engaged and (at least it seemed) excited about learning about their brain. This is very encouraging because to me that means that kids aren’t nearly as apathetic about learning as many people believe, but simply need to be engaged in a way that may require some teaching outside the normal curriculum.

Over the next four visits (spring break screws with our schedule) over the rest of the school year we have some really cool projects and experiments for them to do including the spikerbox which is an ingenious device that was the brainchild of two UofM graduate students who wanted to see if they could bring electrophysiology to the masses by producing a cheap (<$100) and simple to use device that kids and adults can use to explore neuron function with live tissue. It’s really something and these two guys really deserve all the praise the neuroscience community (in particular the YOUNG neuroscience community) has given them and more.

On a completely different topic, I did go on… something tonight. I don’t think it was a date, partially because it wasn’t intended to be, but also because it was just a drink at a nice bar. The whole “what is a date” thing weirds me out anyway. I went out with a cool woman tonight for a drink. It is what it is and that’s it. I hope it happens again.

I may like being single.

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Filed under biology, divorce, grad school, marriage

A touch random

Some random thoughts/happenings:

1. I absolutely hate one of the techniques I must employ for my thesis project. It’s called stereotaxic intracranial injection, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. I hate doing it even though the animals don’t seem distressed and we give them excellent care before and after the surgery. I just hope I can get this working well so I don’t have to do it much longer…

2. Outreach has been big with the students of my program, but most of what we do doesn’t really teach kids that much, so a friend and I decided to do our own outreach. We got a small group of neuroscience students to just talk to kids about awesome science stuff in one of the more diverse middle schools in the city. This is exactly what we wanted to do, bring the excitement of science to more kids (especially women and minorities since they are remarkably underrepresented in the sciences).

We’re not doing this to turn these budding young minds into scientists, we just want to make them aware that science is not only fun and cool, but also useful to them in more ways than they can imagine.

I’m really looking forward to our second session tomorrow morning…

3. I’m having drinks with a pretty lady tomorrow after work. Really looking forward to it since she seems really cool. Getting back into the swing of things may be easier than I thought it was going to be. Only way to find out is to jump right in I guess.

Wish me luck.

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Filed under biology, divorce, grad school, life, marriage, neurobiology, parkinson's

One more week

Then I’ll be done with my qualifier and things will be roughly back to normal. Unless I fail, which given my program is a very possible outcome, then I’ll have another month or two of hell.

Thankfully, another grad student and I have been talking about a nice future co-venture that, if it works, will end up being a very important part of both our theses. God, I hope it works…

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Filed under biology, disease, grad school, parkinson's

When work is life

I get a little depressed.

All I do anymore is read textbooks, papers, and everything else I can get my hands on to prep for a single fucking exam. Oh, and what little time I take off I spend thinking about how I can approach my thesis project.

My life is so boring. I need a hobby outside of research.

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Filed under biology, disease, grad school, home, neurobiology