Dr. Dyer passed me coming into the building and said hi and actually grinned at me - which was new and somewhat surprising - he usually looks kind of dour. I wondered if this was because he'd heard humors of my Star Wars insanity.
I had been wanting to ask him about what he knew about bioconjugating proteins to quantum dots (which he mentioned in his talk) and he said sure, he'd be happy to discuss it, but it had to be tomorrow and gave me a range of times. Sweet! I was really pleased.
Dr. Weinert's class, Bioorganic Chemistry
Dr. Weinert's class looks like it'll be a lot of fun! She teaches energetically - and - what do you know - she handed out a questionnaire to get to know her students. ;) *smile* *thumbs up* See? Good teacher.
We're going to be getting into the nitty gritty of how enzymes function - mechanisms and such - she handed out an organic worksheet review - I think I got the first two mechanisms, which was comforting. We'll see if that's true next week! I asked her after class if it was ok if I missed Friday and she had no problem with it, to my relief. John really wanted to spend Friday with me and I did too.
NSF scary paper work And understanding broader impacts section
After class, I spent most of Wed working on the NSF application - finishing reading it and trying to understand it - which turned out to be really stressful. I had trouble finding the page requirements.
Kevin introduced me to Michael Redding in the Dyer lab and I asked him about the broader impacts section - how your research proposal affects society and how you can communicate your science to the general public. Kevin recommended him because he actually won the award.
Talking to him was a lot more helpful than I anticipated. He didn't want to give me a copy of his proposal, but he talked with me about what it meant, giving me examples... and I suddenly understood it much better. I think that was actually better than just reading what he wrote! I'm not sure why it didn't make sense when I read it in NSF guidelines.
I went back up and kept reading the document until I finished it. Then I took a walk outside to de-stress. It occurred to me - I should talk to Dr. Marsteller! So I walked straight down to her office. I found her!! If you know her, you'll know how amazing that is.
She was SO helpful! She detangled the NSF website with me. I talked to her for a long time about broader impacts and she gave me links to a lot of other great resources. She said the broader impacts was only important in that you needed to understand what they were asking and have thought of it seriously, but the bulk of my time should be spent on the actual proposal science. Makes sense.
I next went to the office people. I had to sign up for Fast Lane to submit the proposal and get registered, which apparently also involves registering with an Emory grant module thingy.
I had no idea what to do but they sat me down and called people and gave me forms and showed me - *gasp* - THIS AMAZING scanner than scans and immediately emails the thing it scanned at the SAME TIME! And they arranged everything so beautifully and got it signed and emailed and explained things...
I was so incredibly thankful - paper work stresses me out so much because it doesn't make sense- that I had tears in my eyes and gave the office lady a hug of thanks and said they were WONDERFUL, MAGICAL PEOPLE!! Which seemed to amuse them a lot.
More thoughts on the way home
On the way home, I realized that my mother-in-law teaches K-5th grade science at Norcross Elementary and would be another great contact to do some stuff in her school for broader impacts! I wondered if I could pull Oxford into this too and left a message with Ms. Harmon to get her thoughts.
I emailed Bijoy, Ms. Harmon and Dr. Conticello for rec letters. Ms. Harmon said she'd be happy to. I really wanted to ask Dr. Conticello in person but finding him is difficult. He said, "Ok." That's it. And I feel badly for asking. Dr. Salaita said he'd write me one.
When I got home, we went straight to the Petrees. When we got back at 9 pm, I was so incredibly tired. I decided I was going to sleep in because my class was at 1 pm and John had the day off anyway.
Thursday: Day with John, Dr. Conticello's Class and Getting Our Dragon*Con Badges!
We slept in until 8 am! Oh the joy. We got the rest of our stuff packed.
John dropped me off at Emory, because we didn't want to leave my car in the parking deck for four days.
I was SO excited to show John the lab!! We both got to talk to Khalid and he told John he was welcome to set up shop in the student rooms/offices, which he couldn't do because he had to run errands - but I wish I'd remembered to thank Khalid for the thought. I SO so so appreciated it, happiness and appreciation were jumping out of me toward him.
Daniel and John got to talk about Warmachine briefly. Sherrel the janitor lady got to meet him and Yvonne also. I showed him my desk and my bench.
I was SO happy John got to see everything and stand next to my desk. I folded my hands and simply observed him there. I wish I'd taken a picture! I felt as if everywhere he went he shed "essence of John" around and made the whole place happier! Now I have good memories of him standing there and can smile to myself and think, "Yup, John was here," while I'm working.
Dr. Conticello's Class, Intro to Biomolecular Chemistry
Thanks to Morgan, I picked up a copy of the book for Dr. Weinert's class in Barnes and Noble, as well as a copy of At the Bench!! I've wanted that book a long time and even ordered it used on Amazon but didn't get it because of a mail fiasco that's not worth going into.
I went to Dr. Conticello's class. Unfortunately he's not the most interesting speaker but the info was cool - a lot of synthetic biology today. I learned scientist had produced replicating viruses synthetically - I'd forgotten that.
Zed, sitting beside me said he knew all the terms in Chinese but none in English at all. I could only imagine how much more difficult it would be to hear everything properly in those conditions. I decided to send my pen notes to everyone (records audio too). Maybe it'll help. I don't get enough use out of my pen as it is.
Talking with Dr. Dyer
I sat in front of Dr. Dyer's office for an hour while he talked to people and I read my orgo TA manual and a short paper about how ligand length affected the protein corona composition around a nanoparticle and incorporation into cells.
Dr. Dyer smiled when he saw me in spite of me being the *3rd* person to walk in and interrupt him! He smiles at me these days. It's nice. And he said he didn't mind me coming - he expected to be besieged when his door was open.
He had very interesting things to say about bioconjugation. Once he understood what I was doing better, he had more specific ideas to mention. New thoughts started swirling in my mind which I wrote down furiously. He had only 30 min to talk before a meeting though - which he almost forgot about until I reminded him - and he said oh yeah! He'd rather keep talking science. He said he was glad that I was engaging faculty and trying to think about new things and directions this early.
After that, I read half the abstracts of the latest issue of Nature, Molecular Therapy. I realized the key I've been missing to improve my proposals - reading abstracts!
Research Talks and Where Morgan and Heidi Said They Were Rotating
Then I listened to Dr. Lian and Dr. Lynn give their research talks - Dr. Lian, who does nanorod, physical, materials chemistry was pretty cool actually. Dr. Lynn's work I already knew.
I asked Morgan and Heidi where they were rotating. Morgan said Weinert, Lynn and Lutz - maybe not Lynn ... Can't quite remember. Heidi said Blakey, Scarborough and Liebskind.
I told them my silly undecidedness - Salaita, Lynn and for the third slot ... I had thought Weinert, then Conticello, then Dyer, then Scarborough, then Hill, now Weinert and Conticello again, and I really still have no idea. I might just have to pick one - eeny, meeny, miny, moe - but I'll try not to do that. I'll pray about it and research it intensely next week.
Thankful Again for My #1 Lab
I really cannot describe how happy I am that I don't have to have the turmoil of indecision on my first choice! It is really scary not to know where one is going.
Fortunately, the Lord has blessed me with much favor with Khalid. I can detect that my intensely positive emotion towards him appears to be mutual, which when I first discovered this was very happy for quite a while. I thought Dr. Salaita was easy to read at first but I've learned he hides a lot more than I expected, making him easy AND hard to read at the same time. I almost always predict him wrong. He doesn't say anything directly, but I can tell. And whatever he does say means a tremendous lot to me.
He continues to maintain positivity and acceptance toward me in spite of all I've thrown at him, silly mistakes and my own multitude list of reasons why he should be mad at me, which leaves me at kind of an amazed loss. I seriously think I've pretty much completely run out of ways to scare him by now, which is such a relief. I feel as if we've mutually annealed, and feeling his acceptance and respect still as strong as when I started if not stronger, makes me feel so tremendously comforted, protected and safe around him - a much stronger, deeper connection than any of the other professors. I'm no longer scared of being so attached. I trust him, and that he's not going to throw me under a bus. When he talks to me, every other noise and distraction immediately evaporates and I only hear him. It's a cone of concentration and exchange.
I love all the lab members too. Listening to Kevin's conversations as I quietly sit at my desk makes me smile, still so glad he's back. I've been eagerly awaiting Yuan's return *every* day this week!
Now I just need John here and things would be perfect. I'm seriously jealous of Khalid and Meisa getting to eat lunch together and work in the same building - as well as Drs. Jeremy and Susana Weaver. I always see them walking to and fro and eating together at restaurants.
Getting the Dragon*Con Badges and Our Vacation Begins!!
John picked me up from Emory at 6:40 p.m. Such happiness!! Knowing I get to spend four nearly uninterrupted days with him makes me glow.
The line for our Dragon*Con badges was long! It must have wrapped around 3 blocks at least - yet we only spent 1.5 hrs in line. I wrote the majority of this note on my phone while in it. Being around so concentrated a group of nerd people already is making me so happy and I'm forgetting about all my stress. I saw a girl with a shirt that said: "E.coli Happens." I need one of those!!!
We got to the hotel - and it's gorgeous!! John said he'd had some classes for Lexus in it so he knew it was a nice place. We can see the Marriott from our hotel window on the 21st floor - such a beautiful view - it's about 10 blocks or maybe two miles away. We ate some blah food at a sport bar but I was just happy to be with John and eat something.
I guess I'm not very good at writing once a week. I basically just plan in writing whenever I can and we'll see when that is. Watch the blog for lots of pictures and Dragon*Con news!! I can't wait til tomorrow.