Aug 25

Now Into The Brotherhood of Science…

After some wacky days and wacky schedules, my life is starting to shake itself out. It reminds me of a metal ball bouncing down between two inclined planes in a “V” shape. A meeting with one of our professors here at Maryland (followed by my attending his laboratory’s weekly meeting) has led to a laboratory rotation studying Neisseria gonorrhea.

“…typical intracellular gram-negative diplococci, and pleomorphic extracellular gram-negative organisms, which is diagnostic for gonococcal urethritis”

While the layman probably thinks of the organism as a dirty disease that shouldn’t be discussed, the vast amount that we have yet to learn about N. gonorrhea is staggering and perfect for somebody like me. Sexually transmitted diseases have a cultural aspect to them not only because of their transmission, but because of how long they have lived in some sort of relationship with our species. By learning about these diseases, we are on some ways learning more about ourselves.

From the few brief meetings I’ve had, my laboratory rotation (about 6 weeks in length) will include locating a gene on one of the massive genomics databases, designing the reagents (primers) needed to clone that gene into a bacteria, and the process of cloning the gene into said bacteria. I asked my professor how long it would take HIM to do the project. He quoted me about a 5 day turnaround. It’s going to take ME about 6 weeks! Even if I fail to complete the process, I will have learned a lot about the process of cloning, a valuable skill in almost any laboratory.

While I’m always intimidated by how little I know and how much I have to learn, I am constantly surprised by how much I DO know and DO understand whenever I attend meetings or lectures. Realizing this has given me the confidence I will need to begin my journey toward a Ph.D.

[Image from CDC and is Public Domain]

Jun 24

Recent Antics: Pirates Tweeting for Dogs

The last few weeks or so have been all over the place!  Here are some nifty things I’ve been up to recently:

  • My Twitter follower count went over 500 for the first time! Half way to 1000, right?
  • I went up to Beltsville, MD (north of College Park) and had an epic pirate party with my new roommates and a bunch of other grad students. I was going to take video and pictures but there was never a really good time to do it.  This picture will have to console you [taken by Sergey Sulima]:
  • Pirate Jimmy

  • Following the party train…I’ve been to two clubs in Richmond so far and might wind up going to 3 before the summer is over.  Basically I’ve done more partying this summer than I did my entire time as an undergrad.
  • Twitter Dog triumphs! Since two of my future roommates were already on Twitter (@deutschbagette and @punkpostmodern), we decided to create a Twitter account for Eva the German Shepherd (now @evabrowndog) who lives there in hopes that roommate #3 might feel more pressure to tweet.  Happily, we suceeded (@jbriank)!

On top of all the awesome things above, I’ve just gotten all my new tech toys at once.  My laptop, wireless printer, and iPhone 3GS are all in my hot little hands now and I can feel the power all around me!  Suddenly page are loading at a reasonable speed and my calls are audible (my old iPhone’s speaker was dying)!  The best part about this new laptop is the built-in webcam and mic, which I plan to use in posting daily updates (or at least semi-daily) to the web.

That’s about it for me.  Hope the week goes well for you!