Tuesday: Tiring day, but good. Tried to get a key to Rollins; failed, but got it setup. Got my Atwood key to work. Got some things organized, studied, read an article. Lab meeting was awesome! Weiwei talked - it was so interesting. I love listening to Weiwei. He was proposing research for future job as professor - using ferritin as a mold to form quantum dot - so cool, so cool. I remember learning about iron storage/ferritin structure in biochem - Weiwei said he thought the Fe storage mechanism was known, but at the time, the class said it was completely unknown and no one knew how Fe was gotten into and out of the structure. Maybe it was discovered - I've always been dying to know this - I should look it up. Ferritin is SO beautiful!! I feel as if my UGA professors had an obsession with discussing ferritin and iron storage in all my classes - cell bio, biotech and biochem all talked about it, I think. Lots of good comments were made that I thought were important but Weiwei looked disheartened. I was glad that Dr. Salaita talked to him more after; hopefully, he'll be less disheartened, because his ideas are cool - maybe he can make them even better!
There was pizza in lab meeting! So good! There was also a new root beer I didn't find out about until the end - someone told me about it so I tried it - I was wondering if it'd be any better than IBC, but it was about the same. I wished I hadn't tried it later though, because Kornelia asked if I were drinking beer - nope! This is why I don't drink those around people usually - don't want to give wrong impression - but I forgot about that at the time. Eh, oh well. Went home; think I'm going to make a habit of ironing John's shirts all on Sunday. Too tiring otherwise. I'm also going to bite the bullet and get a few enzyme books Dr. Weinert recommended. I think it'll be good reference and I'm worried about having proper resources. Looked for audio textbooks. There's a free trial for learning ally that let's me download a biochem audio book by Voet which is amazing, but I can't use it after 14 days, because it's only for learning disabled. My search for such books will continue. I searched for books way too long and now I'm wired, hence the rapid 10 min type of this. Otherwise i wouldn't. Hope I can sleep. Fin.
Wednesday: Today, I organized out some stuff in the morning and I realized - I think - what I have to do with my scheduling now that I've seen what a week's like with real TAing.
It was an interesting day - we had a speaker, Korin Wheeler, who went to the same university as Khalid for Ph.D. Kevin, Daniel and Kornelia and I got to eat lunch with her - this was a lot of fun! I was so glad Kevin and Daniel went. They did most of the talking. Mostly, Kornelia and I just listened. Korin has known Khaid and Meisa a long time, so we got to hear some of their history - not much - just some, which was highly entertaining. Korin asked Daniel how Khalid was and he said oh he was great, except on the occasion he took his glasses off and made lasers with his eyes like an X-man, which I found to be an *extremely* funny statement. I was happy that Daniel was very positive about everything and anything the entire lunch - he seemed in a good mood today.
Kevin and Daniel talked a lot and asked lots of interesting questions - so I had no need to say anything. I just listened. They also brought up fascinating stories I'd never heard of about the lab.
We got to hear about what it was like to teach and do research at a small college type institution - a PUI, "primarily undergraduate institution," which acronym, I'd never heard before.
We ate at this restaurant the Tin Drum - I think it was Chinese? I don't know. Maybe not. I got the Tin Drum curry because Daniel recommended it and it was good - but I couldn't eat most of it. I usually don't have much appetite at times like that though. We got some coffee. It was strong - too strong for me, I think. Kornelia was telling me to chug it - I said no - I was already feeling sick from the coke I had.
Korin's talk was about characterizing the protein corona around silver nanoparticles, trying to understand how they act with proteins and the environment - it was completely fascinating! Completely. When nanoparticles are put in biological media or serum, like blood, the proteins in the media stick to their surfaces, so that cells typically recognize nanoparticles based on the proteins stuck to them, rather than the metal itself. Cool, huh?
Clearly, I need to understand redox chemistry better - this is a gaping hole I must fix. Typically, I've hated metal chemistry, but now some of it is becoming more interesting to me.
After hearing about Korin's old PI, I've decided, you know what - Bijoy is not by any means the scariest fish in the sea. Her PI would call people idiots to their face! Why would you work for someone like that, I wonder? How mysterious. Bijoy never did this - or called people lazy, well ... nah, I don't think so. I've heard of lots of scarier people since being at Emory - I decided, I'm ashamed I ever thought him scary and I will not think this of him any longer. He was good for me! I think I was so stressed at the time, because I'm so hypersensitive probably. I needed the toughening up. Good grief. Thank goodness I didn't work for some of these other horrifying people.
1. I got home and I couldn't stop reading this review on protein corona stuff. I started reading it to prepare for Korin's talk and then I just had to finish it. It was SOOO good!! That was the best article I've read in a while! I've decided though. I've got to cut out reading too much unnecessary literature, or I'll never study anything properly.
2. Mom told me about this harvest moon tonight. It looked a slightly more orange to me but not much. I got to tell her about the talk and explain it and also about rtcB while we ate. Hadn't talked to mom in a while - fun, fun.
3. I'm so annoyed - there's a cume tomorrow that sounds easier, but I forgot about it until yesterday and I've certainly not had time to study for it.
4. I'm talking to Dr. Weinert about topics tomorrow for the proposal. I've got some ideas but I've got to refine them a bit before I see her. We have to propose an original research topic for the class.
5. I'm putting together things for DNAzyme experiments. I could just throw something together and do an experiment, but this makes me uncomfortable, because I don't feel as if I'd have a good handle on what exactly I'm doing and why. I outlined some questions I want to look into first - kinetics, parameters, enzyme stuff - a few things. It's coming together. I'm hoping to finish it tomorrow and do something Friday. Clearly, I have to prepare over weekend for all NSF stuff; plan experiments; all lab TA stuff and schedule the week before it hits me like a hurricane. No more extraneous literature reading. This is what I'll try to do. Maybe then I can actually do experiments and have still some study time left.
6. I was being philosophical today thinking about this blog. It's about less than 10% of what I actually think in a given day. Probably more like less than 0.01%. It's like a survey, as professors take a survey of European literature for a course, or something. Each professor will include something different and that in turn will influence what the students see in it. Same with thoughts. Same with this. It's weird. It's not really representative. I could talk about that for ten pages for fun, but I won't, for your sanity.
7. Ms. Harmon sent me a note about another fellowship to apply for and said she thought of me all the time. <3 I wrote her back a lengthy note starting with MS. HARMON!! Cool stuff is happening everywhere! Well, not really but kind of. I thought of her a lot this week too, doing orgo lab. Ms. Harmon is the best. THE BEST!!
Got to go to bed, John is tired. I should be tired. I think my body forgot. Was so nice to spend time with John tonight. So nice. He's been super busy at work like I have. He said it was so weird to see me home when it was light out - I agreed. We had some fun nonsense talk about this. I had a story I was going to relate about him. Then I looked up and was like - oh crap! I was supposed to write five sentences. I wrote 50+. And I didn't say all I wanted. Oops. [stymies a reversion to philosophical mode about representation]
This blog is still an experiment. Good stuff has to be birthed out of random junk at first - or such I hope. Someday it'd be nice if it were organized, logical, coherent, pithy, less stream-of-conscienceness and said useful things that are interesting.
1. (success) Yes, tiredness has caught up with me; I was having trouble remembering that U replaces T a minute ago - what the heck??
2. (success) John got really sick this morning - and I was upset about this; bought him lots of Gatorade - praise the Lord, he has the day off tomorrow because he worked last Saturday.
3. (FAIL!) I was coming downstairs to eat and mom was like, "Jessica, I couldn't find article on your protein." And I said, "Mom! There are only ten articles of it maybe out there! Here..." *gives articles* But I have to have those back. She asked me questions at dinner about my protein and how it worked - it's funny sometimes, the things she'll say or come up with. I explained ribosomes, ATP structure, what tRNAs do and stuff. I always enjoy this.
4. (success) Dad went to ATL again tonight and took more pictures of the moon.
5. (cheating) The audiobook of biochemistry from Voet downloaded finally yesterday and I listened to part of chapter 6 about protein briefly ... *dies laughing* ... hearing complicated talk about protein structure audibly for some reason is *hysterical.*
6. (FAIL!) I finished the Weinert articles; then looked up stuff I needed to for my DNAzyme experiments and it was completely fascinating - I learned a lot of new things. I looked up hairpins in the DNAzymes made by the "General Purpose RNA Cleaving Enzyme" authors and that was fascinating too. I just realized though again, I won't be able to optimize against hairpins in a real target because the substrate is invariable. But for all the targets that had hairpins with Tm's above 37C ... the Kcat was 10-fold lower (o.1 per min versus 0.04 per min).
7. (FAILFAIL!) A freshman came to our last lab meeting and I asked if he wanted to come watch me do experiments - and he said absolutely! I'm happy about this. I have a good feeling about him - I could be wrong - but if I am, that's ok. It's worth the risk. I love freshmen, especially freshmen so excited about research! You don't get many *freshmen* coming to labs - if you do, then they must be *really* excited. And freshmen tend to get ignored. It's a lonely, small feeling. So, if I see freshmen, I want to make sure they're not ignored and they're told that they're important and awesome, because they are! Especially enthusiastic ones. Many of them are just little time bombs of potential waiting to happen.
I would have killed to shadow someone in a lab as a freshman, so I did the next best thing - work for Ms. H. I didn't think such things were possible at the time - but this guy must be bold, to be seeking labs out. I was horribly shy as a freshman. It gives me so much happiness to introduce research stuff to such a person - it's the first time I've been able to offer to someone else the opportunity that I would have died to get a hold of - makes me so happpppyyyy! I know how that feels. It'd be like getting buried treasure 200x over. I hope it works out. All I can do is try, right? And I feel better about trying to teach a freshman something, because I don't feel much worthy to teach anyone else whose higher up. If I'm lucky, from now on, I'll always continuously try to have a freshman or some student to teach at all times.
8. Nope, I failed. Must go to bed now, really. I can't believe i wrote stuff. Bad Jessica. I told myself I wasn't going to tonight. *clunk* zzzzz
Friday: A tiring, but interesting day; I had fun; I asked the Lord to make it a good day. I was depressed in the morning. And He did! I just realized that. How about that.
Praying about the orgo lab I TA; I wish my students had better
I only had fifteen minutes before class to pray around the building, but that was just about the perfect amount of time. I prayed the Lord would do something good for the day, because I was tired. I've also been praying a lot this week that the Lord would have mercy on me and make me a good teacher to my orgo lab students. Orgo lab was the most influencial class in my whole career for me - I had such good mentors - it's practically what convinced me to be a chemist - and instead of great mentors and inspiring teachers, my students have me. :/ This is unfortunate. Perhaps it's a necessary evil that students at a bigger university get stuck with 1st year grad students sometimes who don't know anything, but it still makes me sad. I can't help thinking how they must not see orgo the same amazing way I did and how different their experience will be from mine. So, I pray the Lord would have mercy on them and make me a better TA, so that maybe, they'll be inspired somehow to see in it a piece of what my mentors showed me.
Thoughts about Bioorganic with Dr. Weinert
This morning in class, Dr. Weinert discussed the papers we had read with us about protease enzyme mechanisms. She pointed out some things that I hadn't seen. Suddenly it made a lot more sense why the authors designed the inhibitors the way that they did. They didn't explain every detail behind why they did things in their papers, because you're already supposed to know that.
I was worried that Dr. Weinert didn't like me or might be annoyed, because I haven't done things perfectly for her class, and I tend to ask a lot of dumb questions that should be obvious, and sometimes, she gives me this face like, "Are you really asking me that?" But, some of us stayed after to ask more questions about the mechanism of chymotrypsin with this inhibitor and she seemed happy with the lot of us. I felt much better after that. Maybe she's not annoyed after all. It's hard to tell sometimes with her.
Thoughts about Conticello’s class
So far, Dr. Conticello’s class has appeared to be much easier than Dr. Weinert’s, since for me, it’s an accelerated review of everything I already learned in biochemistry at UGA. There’s been a couple of things we talked about that I didn’t remember hearing before – DNA origami, for one. I feel badly for Dr. Conticello - every time I see him, he looks so harried and stressed. He was suffering from jet lab on Tuesday and then on Thursday, he was pretty sick with some cold he caught from the plane, he said. It seems like he can’t catch a break – something is always happening to him. He reminds me of my mom, actually – in a weird way. He’s always worrying and saying negative, unconfident things about himself. I’m praying he’ll have more peace, health and anything else I can think of.
Thoughts about my experiment
After class, I started working on pouring my gels. I'd looked at some things last night, so I felt better about the experiments I was doing, but not perfect. I still hadn't done all my calculations for all the concentrations of everything and I'd like to understand the theory better. I finished cleaning the slides and pouring it.
I ate lunch at Rise and Dine - it's my favorite restaurant in Emory Village, because it has fresh squeezed orange juice that's amazing; and it also serves breakfast constantly - and delicious French toast, which is also amazing. I ended up getting a grilled chicken sandwich though and a croissant - both were amazing. I even ate most all of it - which is rare for me. But that was too much food. I shouldn't have eaten so much. I felt kind of sick and then I was *really* tired.
I got back to lab and worked on setting up my calculations for a long time - too long - I blame that silly food. I realized working through them that I'd told Austin to come today and Ian was also coming. I kind of forgot about Ian coming. I think I didn't think that through - and I was worried I wouldn't get calculating done in time. And I worried slightly that I wouldn't really be able to show Austin anything interesting, but I was kind of too tired to panic about it. So I prayed the Lord would help me and somehow untangle my mess and take over and do something good, because I can't do anything.
Austin arrived, what he discussed and what I think we can do
Austin came fortunately about the time I finished all my calculating and I talked to him for a while and heard about the other research he did – it was something using hydrogels to release siRNA, I think, but it didn’t work out. But it sounded as if they had made him design a project himself, so I was impressed. He asked how long I’d been there and I said since May – I know, not long, and he said, no, that’s a long time! He’d only been there since September. I was surprised he thought so and glad – maybe I’d seem less like a n00b to him. O.o
I am thinking I can perhaps show Austin something once or twice a week, if I’m feeling good about it or not suffocating in work – maybe have him try an experiment in parallel while I watch and do a few small things – nothing serious – also, talk about what the lab is doing, walk him through lab notebook keeping, through calculating molarities (had him do that today! check) and other useful, simple but very important lab things. That way, whenever he does research for real, hopefully he’ll remember some of it and it will be less of a shocking transition. Also, perhaps I can discuss some papers with him. Melissa did that for me and it helped a whole lot.
Ian came, and I’m glad he doesn’t hate me
Ian came and I updated him on what was what. I was worried he wouldn’t come back or he was mad at me, because I sent him an email that he should be more consistent coming in, or at least, not leave if there's no one there when he comes – some people have been talking about how undergrads don’t care about research, and I think he’s a competent person and don’t want him to have that impression and I kind of feel responsible for him since he’s working with me. I regretted it after I sent it. But fortunately, he didn’t seem annoyed. It actually seems as if he really is going to make an effort to be here more on time and regularly and *I'm* going to make an effort to always have a plan so he doesn't feel like he should just leave. But, if I have any concerns in future, I’ll talk to people in person. It’s better that way.
I’ve been hearing about undergrads not showing up for research from random people for the last two weeks off and on – and it’s been simmering in me making my blood boil. It’s a pet peeve of mine, in the extreme. I don’t care if people make a million mistakes or ruin experiments, as long as they’re trying and they care – but not to come in makes no sense. Why did they sign up in the first place? Research is like a job. Would you not go to work one day because you didn’t feel like it or were too busy? And if you don’t come in, you’re wasting your time – because you’re not getting out of the research experience what you could – and you’re wasting the grad student’s time, the professor’s time and worst of all – you’re taking the spot, time and resources someone else who *does* care could have. That is almost a crime. There are only a couple of things that really make me mad – this is one. But, I’ve been trying to pray instead for anyone who makes me mad, because it’s not right for me to be mad – Mark Batterson talks about this in Draw the Circle. Always pray for people you’re mad about, because then in the end, you end up not being mad and the Lord might even change them. He certainly changes you. I always need the Lord to change me – I don’t always have right opinions. I could go on on this for a long time; but it’s too long already.
The Lord answered my prayer and untangled my mess
The Lord did what I asked and helped me with everything – for which I am very grateful. I had fun showing Austin some stuff. He thought some simple things I did to save time were amazing – which they are, if you haven’t seen them. And he and Ian got to talk a lot – I think that’s good – always good to have a freshman and senior talk more. Although, maybe Ian was only ½ good influence because he was scaring him slightly about pchem and telling him why research was frustrating. I felt like Ian and I were having a word battle. Ian: this is why research is so irritating. Me: yes, but this is why it’s so awesome! Ian: maybe so, but this! Me: But this! Ian: But this! (never ending vicious cycle) I think overall though, hopefully, Austin didn’t get too much of a negative impression of research.
At one point, Ian, Austin and Victor were all asking me things and following me around at the same time. Somehow, I answered all their questions and got them all to do something without tangling them up. At the time, it was almost as if I were watching myself and it wasn’t me doing it. It was kind of bizarre. I think the Lord just answered my prayer, for which I’m extremely grateful. I know it wouldn’t have been possible otherwise – I was so tired.
Victor was wondering if anyone in the department had a plate reader – I recall the Weinert post-docs talking about one they used in their lab, so hopefully that’ll work out. He was also wondering where the gel stuff was and if I could show him how to run one next week, which of course, I will. I’ll be running a lot of those, probably, provided I can also get my proposal and homework set for Dr. Weinert due next Friday done.
Kevin makes me laugh a lot
Kevin was hilarious today – he was always giving me a hard time about something or saying something ridiculous. He said he *knew* what I was thinking because he could read my mind. And he could read Yuan and Kornelia’s minds! They were thinking things not fit for chemistry. He vied with me over using the vortexer and then asked if I was sure my samples were really mixed or not since he was ruining it with his interference, which made me re-vortex them in my OCD way – and then realize that, no, he wasn’t serious.
Eating cookies between sampling
I setup the reaction and was taking samples at 5 min intervals, because I’d staggered the two I was testing to be more accurate. There were cookies!!! I was so happy – they were good cookies too. I devoured a cookie in Yang’s chair; then put my gloves on and took a sample; then I took them off and ate another cookie; then I put them on and took a sample; then I took them off and heated some stew – I forgot to eat my stew yesterday so I still had some in the fridge. Then I took another sample. Then I devoured my stew. Then took another sample. I discovered I could put on my gloves in less than 30 seconds. Maybe less than 20.
And in between, talked to Yoshie’s husband about what he was studying – which turned out to be chemical engineering – he was writing notes for a class, and I got to ask him what the difference between that was and chemistry, which I’ve been wondering lately, as it turns out. I have to ask what his name is.
Later, Zheng came and said he was putting the cookies in his office because he didn’t like them out in the open in the lab with all the chemicals. I agreed and felt very ashamed that I hadn’t suggested that myself. Dr. Kushner would never ever allow food of any kind in the lab. Bijoy certainly would not have. Ms. Harmon wouldn’t have. I think I’m going to try to make sure from now on I don’t have food at my desk either – even though – here, it’s technically ok – at UGA it was not, and I think, it’s a compromise that makes it easier to have food in the lab, and makes things more sketchy, which isn’t good.
Yang came and talked to me
James called me and told me he was home for the weekend and about this new girl he liked. I ran my gel and Yang came in. He and I were the only ones there and for some reason, he just started talking to me – Yang doesn’t usually just talk to me. He said he was surprised I was there late on a Friday night – so I explained why – and he asked about classes and what I thought of the first year so far. I told him I was really looking forward to next summer, so I could not have classes and have a summer of fun! And he said he didn’t think *that* would happen – and I said – oh, I didn’t mean the summer off – I just meant, doing pure research, because I considered that to be fun and these classes right now made me appreciate my time more, so when next summer comes, I’ll just be so happy that I can read more papers instead of doing class. And he said, ah! That made more sense.
He asked me if I’d told Khalid that I liked doing only research and I said yes, I was pretty sure I had. He said, oh really? He didn’t tell Khalid anything much. If I’d told him that, he must be really happy. I’m not sure why that is – just because I like research? All grad students do research whether they like it or not. I’m not sure how liking it by itself would matter much. If Khalid were happy, does that mean there’s a higher chance I can stay here a long time? I hope so. It’s hard to say what Khalid thinks. I feel as if he wants to keep it that way. I’m not sure why that is. I’m just hoping it’s not for any of the numerous negative reasons that sometimes occur to me. Khalid is probably the one person at Emory who really knows just how weird I am. But so far, I think everything’s ok – he hasn’t said otherwise.
Yang said he didn’t get interested in doing science until he was a sophomore in college practically! Wow! That amazed me. Science must have really snagged him. He was surprised that I’d been so determined for science so early – middle school.
Yimu and Mingda are working really hard
Yuan said earlier that Yimu and Mingda were taking three classes, they said they were always exhausted and they looked terrible every time she saw them. I feel so terrible for them. And they take English classes! That’s just … such intense suffering – at least four times worse than anything I’m doing by far. I told Yuan that she and I both had better pray for them! For less stress and tiredness. I’m still worried about Ace. He studies really hard – I see him in the Weinert lab studying – but he says things don’t make sense every time I see him. *sigh* Must pray for them all.
Imaging my gel, getting into Rollins
I imaged my gel. I had gotten a note from the nice secretary in biochemistry that my card was now activated for Rollins. I prayed it would work – because I’ve heard rumors of cards not activating correctly or having problems – and it was my only was into the building tonight. But I tried it … AND IT WORKED!! I was SO incredibly relieved. I thanked the Lord for that all the way up the elevators. I’m SO happy I don’t have to beg people to let me in any more.
The DNAzymes didn’t digest the substrate that I could see, but I figured that might happen the first time. I’ll try to optimize it. There were a *lot* of imperfections and things I did wrong in this experiment anyway. I know a lot of things I want to fix and improve for next time. I think I have a plan to get Ian more involved, so we can maybe even run four gels at once. We’ll see. I might try to find out if there’s a better way to do this than running gels – I’m not sure.
James’s completely funny cookie clicking “game”
I went home and James showed me this absolutely hilarious website – it has no purpose except hilarity – it’s kind of a game, but not. It’s called “cookie clicker.” There’s a big cookie and you click it. Each time you do, it tells you how many “cookies” you made and you get points. You can upgrade your cookie making per click with your points, buying things like grandmas to bake more cookies, farms to grow cookies from cookie seeds, more cursors per click and factories to make cookies and on and on. Cookies accrue while you’re not watching to and it saves your progress. James now has … prepare yourself … 5 million cookies per click and 132 million cookies accrue to him per second … it was a wonder to behold. I laughed hysterically, clicking the cookie for probably ten minutes, accuing enough cookie ponts to buy a cursor, a grandma, a farm and a factory. I now have about 60,000 cookies that have been accruing as I wrote this and I get four cookies per click instead of just one. LOL I’m amused.
And that is all for tonight. I should have gone to bed a long time ago. But I felt compelled to write. I’m quite tired. John just got home from his gaming night at Brian’s and is thoroughly exhausted. I think we’ll both be sleeping in.