Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I'm sure most of you thought this was possibly my lamest topic ever, but lookit!  Hamilcar followed us to the South!  A year to the week after his first appearance in our window!

He's not really the size of my neighbor's window, that's just retinal ambiguity.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crohn's versus Grad School: Episode I

A fascinating new trend is emerging in my diet.  To bestow some background, the morning hour at which I eat breakfast is determined by when my nausea wears off... typically 2-3 hours after I wake up*.  As a research assistant, I got to work at 7am, pecked at a breakfast item between 8-10am and was totally stable until a 1-2pm lunch.

As a grad student, I wake up at 6am, "study" etc. until class at 9am, and still not being settled enough to eat, just forgo the breakfast entirely (gasp!).  What happens next is cruel punishment.  My stomach thundering in acidy mobilization by noon, I sit down to consume (very slowly) a sandwich.

Halfway through -- BAM! -- nausea is back, bitch.  "How dare you starve me and then gluttonously bloat me with half a sandwich?!", blathers the Crohn's baby.  And with my tail between my legs I slough off to make a cup of tea.

Clearly, the solution is to bring a granola bar to class so that the Crohn's baby doesn't start the afternoon hating before the morning hating has even subsided.  And sugar being my least favorite thing in the morning (this is an artifact of colonoscopy prep), I have to find a granola bar that isn't composed of nuts and seeds but is also not drenched in sugar.  Where does one find such an elusive creation?

*Although the nausea is also bested by coffee, the Crohn's baby does not accept coffee without ample absorptive carbo load, and also if I'm handling animals or microscopic pieces of fragile tissue there is just no inviting the Caffeine Shakes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the conundrum: rotation saga part III

Week 2 into the fall term, it becomes apparent to the first years in my department (n=6) and to those in the interdepartmental program (n=14) that there are several new labs entering Neurobiology and Behavior.  Instantaneously upon disseminating this news, we are all clamoring to get some face time and possibly a rotation with some of these new labs (R2 = madness).

Yours truly had had it all figured out: fall in a renowned histology lab, winter in a renowned molecular genetics lab, spring in a budding molec/e-phys/histol lab.  But then, there was an opportunity to rotate with Dr StemCells.  Three exciting labs for the remainder of the year, and two terms.  Not cool.

It was not easy to make a decision, and honestly my stomach is still churning somewhat (or perhaps that's the caffeine).  After two weeks of soliciting the philosophies and suggestions of graduate students and PIs alike, I chose to forfeit the renowned molecular genetics lab in favor of the budding Dr StemCell's lab.  Ultimately, it came down to this:

1) Dr Molecular Genetics runs a very large lab and is very inaccessible.  We're talking up to 18 month gaps between private meetings, unless you are her co-PI.  She is a remarkable woman, and I would do a post doc with her in the blink of an eye, but students just do not graduate from her lab in less than 7 years and I require the guarantee of semi-regular one-on-one time (things tend to move more quickly that way, in this department's labs).

2)  The three labs under consideration all collaborate with one another on some level.  It's not like I would be abandoning an opportunity to participate in a hot project.

3)  Although it certainly puts a feather in one's academic cap to be spawned from a renowned lab, it doesn't hurt to be part of the creation of one either.  Newer labs (again, in my department) tend to publish more frequently and use more shiny high-tech toys.  I would speculate that this is because a) budding PIs need to lay golden eggs to stay funded, and b) budding PIs tend to still be in that rosey-eyed optimistic stage of their careers.

Naive Raga has chosen to try out two fledgling labs after a term in the current renowned one.  What will be, will be.