Went to the symposium yesterday! It was great fun. Here's a short story about it, in brief, as I haven't much time to write. Sorry my pictures aren't that great. I need Yuan's! She took lots. She claimed though that hers weren't good either. I bet they are better than mine! And, apologies, but I haven't edited this much, for real this time.
The Sypmosium started at 8:45 a.m. and there were speakers most of the day. Each person talked for 15 min back to back, then there were breaks for lunch, a coffee break and then finally at the end, a poster session from 5-6 p.m. or so.
Story of the Symposium
Before it started
I believe this was the first ATL area biophysics symposium that's been held. Previously, no one was willing to organize such a thing. And for obvious reasons. WHO would want to do that?? Apparently, one of them in Khalid. I'm extremely impressed and proud of him for being part of that. I bet, he put a lot into it. I would HATE organizing such a thing. But I enjoyed the results.
I thought it was at 8 a.m. and worried I wouldn't get there on time. I got there at 8:15 and found that I was the second person there! Noel was the first. He thought it was at 8 a.m. too. I got the very first cup of coffee, as they were being setup. I was very proud of this. It was good. I'd been told Emory Catering coffee was good.
I was walking back to my car to get my toothbrush (because I must have it on me at all tlimes, or I get itchy) and this car drove by and beeped REALLY loudly and scared the crap out of me. Of course it was Kevin. He walked back to the building with me. He said, when he saw me, he was REALLY excited, because he loves to beep at people he knows and see how they react. Some people will flick him off and then feel badly, because they see - oh - it's just him. He said he felt badly though, because I almost dropped all my stuff. I said, nah, not to worry about it, because Kornelia had done that to me twice now, and I was getting used to it.
Seeing Dr. Seitaridou and Dr. Finn
In future, I hope we get more time for coffee breaks. Fifteen minutes didn't feel like enough time - just barely enough - but not really enough to talk - 20 might be better. But I don't know, with that many speakers, maybe it's just unavoidable. Lunch was about a 20 min break.
During lunch break, I asked Dr. Seitaridou what she thought of Dr. Finn and other people. Dr. Finn spoke in the beginning, second person. Morgan was sitting next to me, which I really appreciated. I felt like I had a friend. There was a long line for food. Dr. Kindt and JC were standing behind me talking about the gel phase of membranes. I listened to them interestedly. Dr. Kindt said hi. He doesn't seem to hate me which is good. I told him he'd convinced me that the gel phase was cool, previously - which is true - I do think it's cool - and he was very happy about that and included me in there conversation.
I was like YES! I get to be a part of a complicated science discussion I know not much about, but will be happy to listen to, to glean more datas. I love listening to people talk at things like this. It's SO MUCH FUN TO BE SURROUNDED BY SCIENTISTS - AHH!! It's almost the most fun thing ever. They should do this every year. I don't mind being in huge crowds any more, as long as I don't have to talk to the millions of people there, and can just observe and listen and escape when necessary. When is it that you can go listen to people have casual conversation about ribosomes, the physics of membrane disorder and polymerase mechanisms, just like that, over coffee, or something? It's hysterically funny! And great. I just love being surrounded by scientists.
I almost ate a falafel, but I didn't - I put it back when I saw the pizza. The pizza is a less risky food. And it was almost the best I had! I wish I had looked at what kind it was, because it was seriously delicious. I was really surprised. Sam took the falafel I had put back. He and Noel came and talked to me while I ate my pizza. I asked Sam to eat the falafel while I watched, because I'd never seen one before, and wanted to see what happened. He said, what, he was my experiment? I said, yes. It was very interesting looking - made of chickpeas and stuff I hear. I don't think I'd like it though. So, I'm glad I stuck with pizza.
Other people I met
I got to meet Dr. Mustafa El-Sayad finally. I just introduced myself during one of the breaks. He came during the middle. He's a big name in nanoparticle science. I told him I'd read some of his papers. He was very gracious. He's so a completely adorable, sweet person! He reminds me of Dr. Saadein. Matt Dorian, someone I know from Oxford who was presenting there, agreed with me completely. He said - oh yes - the way he talked - definitely Dr. Saadein all the way.
I saw Dr. Christine Payne from Tech. She hosted the dinner of whose group I was a part of on the Tech visitation and she remembered me. She asked whose lab I planned to join and I said Khalid's. She said - oh - it made sense then why I was here. It's a good crash course of biophysics. >:| As if, I couldn't be there for my own interest! PFFFFT But that's ok. She looked kind of miffed. I worried that she was annoyed at me for joining Emory over Tech. But, I worry too much, and she kind of always looks annoyed so maybe that's just her face. I saw Dr. Doyle too, whom I had spoken with at Tech. I'm pretty sure he recognized me. I wish I had said something to him.
My favorite speakers were Khalid Salaita (Emory), Donald Doyle (Tech), Jenny Yang (GSU), Todd Sulcheck (Tech), Mustafa El-Sayad and Shuming Nie (Emory).
Khalid's talk was great! He went over what I think is the most eye-catching project - Zheng's nanorods that have a elastic polymer attached to them that will collapse upon laser excitation. He can use them to stimulate part of a cell and it'll grow in that direction. I was so excited he was able to get through the whole thing and show the cool cell growing movie. I wish that movie was on youtube somewhere so I could link it here! It's the coolest. Khalid is so fun to watch and listen to.
Donald Doyle talked about how the ribosome evolves in an anomalous way - very slowly compared to other things - and just adds on to what it already there - the underlying older parts do not change. I didn't know that about the ribosome.
Todd Sulcheck talked about a new technique to separate cells by their stiffness that was absolutely fascinating! I'll spare the details here, though I'd like to describe the whole things. Basically, he squeezed the cells through a crack, and based on how long it took them to squeeze through, they'd sort into different places. I loved how many new techniques were discussed. That's what I REALLY want to be able to do - to be able to understand the fundamentals of chemistry, physics and biology so well, that I can be continuously developing new and better protocols and techniques. I think that really shows the mettle of a critical thinker and I really respect people who do this.
I actually had questions for him! But I decided to wait to ask them. During one of the breaks, I asked him lots of stuff, just out of curiosity. I asked him what the range of stiffness was between normal and healthy cells ( 2kPa - 200/400 kPa, I think). And I gathered that he could modulate the cut off point of stiffness upon which he collected the cells and he said yes and explained more about that. And I asked if he could sort cells in several different compartments rather than just two and he said yes that was theoretically possible but more technically challenging. And, I asked if different cell types had different stiffnesses - I figured so - but I wanted that confirmed and he said yes. And how much the stiffness or lack there of varied between different cancer cells. He asked what year I was and I told him, and that I was planning to join Khalid's lab. He said - oh great! Well, let me know if you want to do any collaborations in the future! Maybe we can come by and visit or invite you all over and have you visit Tech again sometime. And I was like, Sure! He was a REALLY nice person. I felt like, Wow, cool! I'm a legit part of the scientific community! :D I was taken seriously by someone! (Unlike Dr. Payne) *dancedancedance*
The last guy Nie, was HILARIOUS. I LOVED his talk. He spoke really loudly about nanoparticles, one my favorite topics in the world. He claimed to have a cold and apologized for his voice, but he spoke the loudest of anyone there. I was quite pleased and impressed. That's how it should be done! Khalid also spoke really well, of most people there - very easy to understand. I'm just saying - when speakers speak really loudly like he did, I'm always happy with them.
Just FYI, the energy he showed, is what I *can* become like and talk like, when I stop being nervous, relax and just talk excitedly about science. I know, because it happened a couple times, during my SI lectures for Dr. Saadein's orgo class at Oxford and the students tended to laugh hysterically about it later and things I said. It just kind of happened. So, I know it's technically possible. It's just really rare. I'm never not nervous in front of professors. Those were students I was speaking to, so I didn't feel as if I had anything to lose. But, with the Lord, all things are possible. Maybe some day ....
Being tired after listening to so much science
The last series of talks was also hard to listen to - BUT THEN - I think it was Dr. Sulcheck spoke there at the end, and I woke up. And Dr. Mustafa El-Sayad and Dr. Nie - so then, at the end, I felt like I had energy again - because all three of them WERE COMPLETELY FASCINATING - AHHH!!
Poster session: Matt Dorian won a 3rd place prize!!
I was so amazed that he thought very similar to me. He knows that he loves research and wants to be a research scientist type of person as well, not a professor. But unlike me, he wants to develop his own ideas and perhaps market them as an entrepreneur. I told him all I had learned about what government, industry and university research was like and the differences between them and the stuff about the Salaita lab. They are some of my favorite topics. I don't know much. But he said I know more than he so - tell me more! So I got to talk endlessly about my favorite topics. Always a fun chance.
He figured out the mechanism of Daniel's new microscope technique in 5 seconds. All I explained was, "So, he starts by using a doubly tagged molecule ..." And he was like - "oh - OH! I get it. And he measures the distance between the two fields to get the z?" I was like [....] Matt, you're a genius! You should be at Caltech! He said it was intuitive to him. Maybe it's because he's such a physics person by nature.
He wants to avoid getting a phD though and do the same thing without one. This makes no sense to me. He says he wants to be different and buck the system. I told him - he doesn't have to do it like that - he can be different and unique IN in the system and still inspire people. He said going to grad school terrified him though. It terrified me too. A LOT. I was almost shaking in fear when I came to the Emory visitation. But the Lord took all that away when I saw that I could be in science for real. We talked about lots of useful things. I think Matt Dorian could go anywhere he wanted. I told him he should consider the Salaita lab. He said - well - maybe, but I HAVE TO DESIGN MY OWN PROJECT! *rebellious look* I said - of course! That was a requirement for me too. Khalid will probably let you. He looked surprised and said - even as an undergrad? I said that I thought so. No one discourages that kind of thing that I'm aware of. He said no one gives him the time of day as an undergrad and treats him like he's a waste of time and it's so irritating - except the professor that he worked for currently. Isn't that just the truth. That's why I feel like it's so critically important to treat all students like the priceless treasures they are - because - most people don't. I assured him, Khalid was no where near like that - he was always nice to everybody. We had a great time talking.
And that's pretty much it! Gotta go!