This post has been long in coming. On July 31st, our whole lab went ziplining from 2 pm until 6 pm! Four hours! We went through difficulty levels 1 - 4 of historic banning mills - the longest zipline tour in the world! The level 4 was intense. I am deathly afraid of heights and it was only with the constant love and support of my labmates that I was able to make it through all this. I'm glad I did it. I feel like I conquerored a giant. Enjoy the photos! My
Fun moments from July!
It's been a while since I've given an update! So here are some of crazy things that have happened this month, chronicled in pictures.
LEFT: Photo of my RNA stocks in the -80C freezer. This is what they look like! I store them in tiny amounts here. This month, part of my work has included continuing to organize the -80C freezer stocks and update our list of growing plasmids, thanks to Kornelia's hard work and her student Mara.
Research Lately: Mired in difficulties after big successes
I got my first publishable data in March / April and it was VERY exciting! However, since then, I've been unable to make more RNA due to it degrading - some of my reagents have gotten contaminated - and I'm trying to sniff out the problem in the coming week! Very important. I'm also helping Grace to put together a poster of her work.
Grace working on a reaction to transcribe RNA
Organizing the ballasts
The centrifuges need ballasts - so Grace and I worked on organizing them and making sure that they were accurate!
I synthesized a third batch of gold nanoparticles!
People in the Conticello lab draw creatively
Playing with dry ice!
Enzymes that come in the mail sometimes come with dry ice! Here's an example of us playing with some.
I observed flip-flop cookies and I can't remember where from
The Weinert lab uses an excess amount of Ni:NTA beads
Jim Vickers in the Hill Lab graduated
My student Sam Druzak working hard!
Kevin messing up my plush nucleotides to make them bond wrong
I love Kevin's maniacal grin.
Sam's Favorite Chair in Rollins -- He had a Furniture-gasm over it
He seriously talked about asking the secretaries if anyone was using this chair and if he could take it home. It was in the hallway in front of a vending machine.
Question is - Is the liquid nitrogen tank supposed to be leaking?
Don't worry - apparently they do this when they are really full, I was told.
This is what happens when Sam tries to figure out how MANY tubes he can fit into one box!
We were aliquotting chemically competent cells. >.> I thought this was hilarious.
Gotta eat that 5 o'clock fudge!
Kevin eating SQUID at International Coffee Hour
I got this squid on my plate, and it was the most absolutely disgusting thing I've *ever* seen. Kevin immediately demanded that he eat it. He wasn't joking - he really did think it was delicious.
Other International Coffee Hour photos
Picture that Marika painted during Pi Alpha's guided painting expo
A soccer ball has the same pattern as an icosahedral virus, our teacher said, and colored one to prove it.
My friend Keon's desk nameplate - I thought it was funny
Really delicious desert Ink and Elm gave Kevin for his birthday
Got everything set out for Sam to run an experiment!
Organic nut seller in farmer's market asks that ppl like him on FB!
I bought three bags of his nuts for $18 - they are really good!
The 1st and 2nd floors in front of Atwood elevators are now firetruck red!
Doesn't it make you nervous? LOL
Tao, Zheng and Han using the Transmission Electron Microscope!
I ordered some HEPES buffer for research!
Some E.coli cells that I was transforming some genes into
The NEW shiny gel electrode cassette holder (I broke old one >.>)
Dr. Nathan Lewis from Caltech spoke about cheap, efficient solar energy! He's a wizard!
A lot of people came to listen, as you can see.
Frozen water fountain in front of Slice and Pint!
One of the pre-cast gels that I ran last week
Han washing flasks with Nanopure water
Kevin and Kornelia sharing a private joke
And that's all for now!
*For updates on how the application process is going, see the end of this article.
Hey guys! I've put out notices to the ATL Homeschooling Association the ad below - namely - that I am looking for a homeschooler 10th - 12th grade to mentor in scientific research / biochemistry this summer! Details are below. If you are a homeschooler, no matter if you're part of a group or not, and you're interested in science - you qualify! Contact me. I'd love to hear from you! FYI, since this is a pilot program, the details are being worked out on a regular basis and I will be continually tweaking things. Requirements are also somewhat fluid at this time. Thank you in advance for your patience!
Homeschooler Summer Program 2015 Intro Letter
My name is Jessica Petree, a second year grad student in chemistry here at Emory University in the Salaita Lab. I would like to mentor a homeschool student in 10th - 12th grades during the summer, in my lab. If all goes well, I will offer this every year, looking for applications between Jan - April 1st.
This internship would be a summer program (May / June 1st - Aug 31st) in which I could take on a student interested in pursuing science as a career, and would like to get some lab / biochemistry experience. Start and end date are somewhat flexible according to student needs. I'm very interested in providing science mentorship opportunities to homeschoolers, as I was one myself from preschool to 12th grade and was not able to participate in one. I originally got the idea from The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, which requires all their junior and sophomore high schoolers to participate in such internships. I would like to open up the same to homeschoolers.
This program is about me helping you to reach your goals in any way I possibly can. Giving people what I always wanted as a high schooler is a dream come true for me. I've somehow, by the Lord's grace, sneaked into science. Now, I want to unlock the door and share it with any and ALL I can find! Especially homeschoolers, like I was.
About: Application Deadlines
Application deadline: March 31st (if interested, please send me an email by then)
Contact email: jpetree331[at]gmail.com
Program start date: May 1st (depending on student schedules)
Program end date: August 31st
When offered: if all goes well, taking applications every year for the summer, between Jan - March 31st
Decision deadline: you will find out whether I can take you or put you in another lab no later than April 1st
Pre-requisites: Absolutely none required, except your passion in science
Items to include in application email: Please give me a rough idea of the hours you will be available to work, as well as any time you will need off during the summer - this is the only critical info I require on which I may base some decisions. In addition, feel free to give me a little background about you, experiences, classes, what kind of science you are interested in, and favorite parts of it, or any goals you may have, so that I can get to know you better. These details do not at all influence acceptance in this program. I don't have to be impressed! Promise. Don't be afraid to apply! If you would like to send me a resume, you certainly may but it is not required.
Hours: 20-40 hrs, minimum 20 hrs, M-F, no work weekends
*Student must be available during the hours that I work, which are 7 am - 6 pm M-F.
Most undergraduate summer research positions are full-time jobs, essentially "science boot camps" for the summer, where you can immerse yourself in science and work at least 9 am - 5 pm. This idea is what I prefer to offer and will give preference to the student who can spend this time with me. Doing so allows me to pour into the student all my energy and they will gain the maximum benefit. Otherwise, my time is splintered and not as helpful. I realize that not everyone can meet these requirements. If not, you really need at least a back-to-back of two days of 8 hours each to get serious things done. Doing research in 3 hour blocks of time scattered throughout the week with no consecutive days is really not possible. The other days one comes in can be less. Thus, if working 15-hrs, it needs to be in consecutive days. These requirements will allow me to give the richest possible experience to the mentored student. As I do not yet know how available most people are, these requirements may change as needed, depending on the applicants, so feel free to apply even if you don't have these hours. Other labs may also not necessitate two back-to-back days for research. This is something I will be investigating.
Duration: (as above) Summer, May/June - August/September
Project area: biochemistry
Possible techniques to introduce / learn: polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, determining DNA / RNA concentration, protein expression / isolation / purification, enzymatic reactions, imaging fluorescent DNA / RNA, RNA transcription, PCR
Project details: Contact me by email or in person for more info!
Final thoughts: In this mentorship program, I intend to guide students through performing some basic experiments, get an introduction to foundational lab practices such as sterile technique, help them learn to do one or two on their own, and give them a feel what being a grad student in science is like. They may even take a role as an assistant in my work, or perform a small side-project of their own. Depending on where I am, we may focus on only one or two techniques in depth, rather than doing a broad survey. Student interest will guide things learned, as well as work hours. I am also open and flexible to modify requirements as needed / desired.
My professor: Khalid Salaita
About our lab: For more information about our lab and its work, see our lab website: http://chemistry.emory.edu/faculty/salaita/Home.html
*Note: Our lab deals mostly with surface chemistry and measuring the force that cells pull on their target molecules; however, my work is quite different from the bulk of what we do.
About me: For more info about me, my history in science / grad school, see my science info page and science blog.
What If I Don't Get Accepted? Benefits to Applying and FAQ
There are still benefits to applying, even if you don't get accepted! Here's what I can do.
1. I would still like to be a science mentor and contact for you here at Emory. If interested, I will put you on my contact list, and keep up with you as you prepare for and attend college, periodically sending you a note, and seeing how I can be helpful or answer questions. This way, you don't have to worry that you're bothering me. This was always a tremendous fear of mine. So instead, I'll bother you! With permission. If you'd like to be on my contact list, regardless of the program, email me as well and I will add you to it!
2. I have an open door policy! Anyone can come by my office at any time, ask questions, have additional lab tours, etc. Look around, find someone you'd like to talk to in the Emory chem dept and I'll set it up! I know just about everyone or someone who does. I'd love to have students come by to talk about science, their goals and whatever they like. We can go hang out and have coffee between experiments and I'll tell you whatever I can about what you're interested in. If you want, you can observe / hear about whatever experiment I'm doing that day (shadow me for a day) and I'll give you a project update about how things are going.
3. There's a chance - I can't promise anything - but there's a chance I may be able to place additional applicants with my friends in other labs. So even if I can't take you on, I will *try* to find someone who can.
Conclusion: Come all ye homeschoolers who may! I want to help you as much as possible and introduce you to more of scientific research and everything we do in the chem dept here at Emory! If all goes well, I will do this year round. Scientific research is my supreme PASSION, and I'd love nothing more than to share it with you, especially those equally passionate.
Don't be discouraged! Be persistent when looking for a research position! Getting one in highschool is very hard. Professors target sophomores and juniors in college. However, that doesn't mean it's impossible. You'll never get what you don't attempt. If you're persistent, getting a research position at some point (especially in college) is not an IF, it's a WHEN. For my tips on finding a research position and what to do when you get one, see here. Written for juniors / seniors in college, it applies best to freshman / sophomores or sophomores / juniors in college, though it can apply to anyone seeking a research position.
Do you offer anything for younger students? At this time, I would like to focus on students in the 10th - 12th age group, who are preparing for college. However, if you have a younger student who is interested in science and would like a tour, email me! I can't offer an internship, but I will try to answer questions. I am still working on relating what we do to younger audiences, and haven't built up my confidence in this area, BUT I could use the practice! So, let me know. :)
*Due to a technical / user error, some of the titles above were swapped afternoon of Jan 18th. I apologize for the confusion. It should now be fixed.
Update on Applications As of Jan 20th
So far I've had four applicants apply since sending my notice to the ATL Homeschool Association on Jan 5th. I received my first on Jan 16th, and have since been getting about one a day. It seems my notice had an incubation period of ~11 days. I am not sure if this trend will continue until March 30th, and I end up with something like ~60-70 applicants or not. As this is my pilot program, I unfortunately will make mistakes. Please bear with me as I work out bugs and try to tweak things so that it all works smoothly. I am so glad to see all the interest! I hope to encourage all of you to continue to pursue science whether or not I can take you. I'd seriously take everyone if it were possible, and I will be looking for more spots in other labs so that I can fit as many as possible. However, I'm not expecting to find more than two additional spots. But who knows? It could be that I find more other grad students willing to take on students than I am expecting, just as I am getting more applicants than I had been expecting. I will let everyone know by April 1st.
You guys are awesome! I know I said some of the same up above, but it cannot be emphasized enough: When I started out in college as a homeschool student, I wondered how I'd do against everyone else, but it turned out well! The key to science is persistence. Never give up, never surrender! That's what we learn in research too. We fail so many more times than we succeed, because there's only one right solution but thousands of ways to fail. Don't let that discourage you! Not only can you get a research position in college, with effort, it is highly likely. As above, for more tips about getting research positions, see here. They apply best to freshman / sophomores or sophomores / juniors in college, though I wrote them for juniors / seniors. The hardest times to find positions are always going to be highschool and college freshman.
December Adventures! Super resolution microscope, Khalid's tenure talk, lab cleaning, along with humorous others
Here are photos of some of the biggest events in our lab this December:
1. Khalid's final tenure talk, for Emory's chemistry dept
2. Our lab cleaning
3. Building of the super resolution microscope
4. Humorous photos of some things you "may find" in Atwood Hall
Due to their abundance, categories #1-2 are merely organized in a gallery without much commentary. Alas! I hope these photos illustrate the fun, humor and good times that we have had in the past month.
Khalid's Emory tenure talk gathering in 5th floor kitchen
This December, Khalid gave his last major tenure talk in the chemistry dept at Emory! Now, most of the hurdles he has to do for tenure are accomplished. A decision will be arrived at this next May. Other better photos from Yuan and that also have Khalid in them are coming soon!
Lab cleaning! It was impressive.
Building of the super resolution microscope!
Stage 1: the boxes arrive
The AFM and glove box were moved out to make room for the new super resolution microscope!
Stage 2: Josh and Zheng start taking out the microscope stand
Stage 3: assembly, assisted by Nikon personnel
Stage 4: finally done!
Stage 5: leftover boxes are thrown out
Adventures in Lab and Atwood 5th Floor!
Sometimes in chemistry in Atwood Hall you may find ....
1. Ugly paint has been added to the walls!
Apparently, someone thought this strange shade of blue would be a good idea. We don't like it, as we don't think it matches with the floor tiles - and they are only painting some of the walls this color. It's all piebald, like the floor. Very hilarious, if you ask me. However, I did hear that they may replace the floor tiles again - which is great news!
2. People from the Hill lab eating carrots and playing Magic
3. Silly drawings on the dry erase boards
4. One's expensive Nanopure resin filter pack runs out of steam
5. Kevin has taped off his side of the lab
6. Green pumpkins and red leaves near my desk
7. The first floor has been taped off as out-of-bounds
8. Someone throws away a container too big for the trash
Josh asks me if I want to cut plexiglas
He popped into lab carrying the stuff with him and asked this question - I was taken aback - asked where it would be cut and how long it would take, and he said not longer than 10 min, and it was in the physics machine shop in the Math and Science building across the street. I was too curious to say no! I'm so glad I went. Josh was so nice to let me cut it with him. On the way, I showed him Picard singing "let it snow."
When we got there, it was a cool place - there was an IR sensor when you came in that sensed when someone came in and made a "ding" sound. There were lots of cool instruments. We cut the plexiglas with a band saw - it slightly melted the edges, making them crusty, which you could pull of the excess - and didn't take much pressure to cut. We had two pieces. Josh cut one and then he let me cut one.
This was fun! These plastics will go above the microscope. I felt proud - for the first time, I contributed something to our microscopes! I've included pictures below.
*Josh thought it was quite hilarious that I was videoing this cutting.
Other items around the machine shop
The band saw we were using
Josh with the plexiglass
I had the honor of attending Roxanne's Rosh Hashana party this past Friday! It started at 8:30 pm and lots of people were there from the biomedical and engineering (BME) program at Tech. I met a guy doing "financial engineering" that applies math, physics, quantum and programming to finance! He specialized derivative trading. I thought that was fascinating - never heard of it before.
Roxanne's food was amazing! She spent all day from 2 pm cooking and had wonderful deserts. I ate star fruit for the first time - it had no smell whatsoever - and tasted like grapefruit, grape, tangerine and maybe orange all swirled into a very mild taste. I had fun talking to all my labmates.
Thanks Roxanne for fun times!
Mingda leaves the lab for married life
We give a hearty farewell to my classmate Mingda, an excellent student, who has decided to leave the Salaita lab to get married this fall. It was a very hard decision, but he felt that losing his loved one would be a far greater regret than anything his career could offer him. We all wish him the best! I am very sad to see him go. He did very well working with Zheng on a polymer nanoparticle project. He will be looking for jobs or perhaps a Masters up north with his wife, as she finishes two more years of her degree.
Welcome to Roxanne and Josh!!
The Salaita lab welcomes Roxanne and Josh, two new students from the Biomedical and Engineering dual degree program between Tech and Emory! I am SO excited to have them onboard! Roxanne is working with Yang on a force sensor to measure T-cell response, while Josh will be taking over Daniel's project who graduated last year, on super resolution microscopy. Both of them are thrilled and very excited to be starting work with us.
Roxanne is smart, talkative and very sweet! I think she will be a great addition. We've had a lot of fun discussions about classes, science and immunology. Josh is about as enthusiastic as it gets - overflowingly so - and will make a great Kevin replacement when he has to graduate soon. Josh says he gets high off of presentations and speeches, is very fun-loving and loves talking science to anyone he can. We've had some great and really fun discussions so far both about science and other things. I've really been hoping we'd get a Kevin replacement, and therefore, I cannot be more excited that Josh is joining us!! I am also really interested to see how he develops the super-resolution microscopy as well. I think it is an extremely fascinating and ground-breaking technique.
Both Josh and Roxanne, due to being in BME, have to take far more classes than we do. I cannot decide whether to envy or be sorry for them. Their classes sound really cool, like "cellular engineering."
Other news: ethics class and elevator pitch talks
Us second years had a required ethics class last Friday, which was moderately interesting. There was much good discussion of authorship, especially, clinical ethics and dilemmas that can arise as a TA. We got back just in time to get food from the Graduate Awards Ceremony, and see the poster session.
On Th, everyone from the Salaita lab gave an "elevator pitch" to the new graduate students summarizing their work and latest results in 3 min, 3 slides max. I thought it would be simple, but it turned out to be murder. I finished the slides on Wednesday, after getting extra advice from Khalid, Kevin and Weiwei. It took all day Wed and a few hours on Th to practice before I was half-way decent. I clocked myself about 10 sec under three minutes.
I had no idea that would be so hard. I got so incredibly frustrated and mad at myself on Wed that I burst into tears, gave up and went to Starbucks and bought myself coffee and a comfort brownie. It turns out, I can't talk. It takes me forever to practice for presentations. The pitch ended up going relatively well, though it was three minutes of terror. You can bet I will be practicing my second year report presentation all day every day for at least a month.
Lastly, I have been working on my second year report, due Sept. 15th. It's definitely a work in progress. Right now, it sounds like crap. Next week I will be editing in AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I don't think I will doing much research after the report, so that I can practice the heck out of it. But we shall see.
Next week: Insanity begins - classes and welcome to new students
Classes start next Wed. There is a welcome picnic for the new students Tu night. Seminars start soon. And come Friday - Monday of Labor Day weekend, John and I will be gone to Dragon*Con. I'm not so thrilled about it being during the middle of report writing, but perhaps it will be a good last distraction before crunch time.
Be in prayer for all us new and second year students giving our 2nd year reports! These reports are critical and will decide our future in the Ph.D. program. I am looking forward to the end of October, when all my deadlines, including the NSF fellowship, will be over.
Research Results: Enzyme is Active!
What's going on in my corner of the science world? Find out here!
Rolling Statuses: Technical journal blog. Here you may discover what the daily life of a grad student looks like: day-to-day snippets of life, clutter, rolling statuses and unimportant fluff.
Progress Updates: Will include entries with more meaningful science.
Weekly lab report: My write-ups on what I did each week (I posted these publicly during my rotation but not as much now. That may change.)
Here is a link to collected writing, poster and presentation tips.
As of February 8, 2014 I have officially joined the Salaita lab!! Very exciting. Stay tuned for updates. "Micro Min" category equates to grad school journaling; most of these have moved to my status updates blog under Home tab. See "progress updates" on this blog for more important news.