Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

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lesliesage
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Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby lesliesage » Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:59 pm UTC

Anyone want to talk about your job in science? Lab drama? Career paths? How awesome your project is, even though you only produced one graph in the last six months?

I'm doing a PhD in renal microvascular physiology; the further I go, the more fun it is. I'd love a career in academia.

My project in super lay terms:
The kidney filters your blood; there are millions of individual filtrations units in the kidney called nephrons. Part of a nephron is the glomerulus, which is the round tangle of capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in your body) in my avatar, and is about a tenth of a millimeter. It's where loads of junk and fluid gets filtered out, and then some gets reabsorbed (so you don't dehydrate) and the rest is your pee. There's a cell on the outside of these capillaries called a podocyte, which is totally the most interesting cell ever.

Image

You can see the big body of it and all the little feet wrapping around a capillary, interdigitating with feet from other podocytes. This kinda shows one of many capillary loops on the glomerulus.

So I'm basically looking at the leakage of protein from these capillaries that escapes between the feet of these podocytes and other spots, which is a problem in diabetes and every kidney disease. It's called albuminuria.

I love my lab but it's kind of weird not having a real basis for comparison, especially living in a foreign country. There are some awesome inspiring people and there are some real... characters... but I'm sure that's true of anywhere. I'm hoping I'll get to do 6 months of my project in LA for a lot of reasons.

Anyone else? Anyone?

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby TemperedMartensite » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:58 pm UTC

To be honest it was the word "coffee" in the title that drew me to this topic. I'm only an undergraduate student in Materials Engineering but here is my project at any rate...

Project in Super Lay Terms:

I measured the deposition of "ancient tidal rhythmites" (fancy expression for the mud and sand layers deposited when the tide goes in and out - only these are roughly 110 million years old). From this I constructed graphs and did stuff :P (more than 1 in 6 months!) such as the one below:

Image

The above graph is a semi-variogram which tells me the regularity of deposition and gives me a measure of the immediate variance between depositions (due to rainfall, ducks...whatever). In this case there are "lows" corresponding to the cyclicities of ~30, 60 and 90. From this we can tell what type of tidal environment it was and use this to infer other properties that modify existing geological models of the study area. It is a ton of fun because I get to use the statistical methods I learned in engineering while learning about geology.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby lesliesage » Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

That sounds cool; my flatmate is a deep earth geologist, so I get to hear about her neato diamond anvil cell experiments and such, and trips to the synchrotrons in California and Switzerland (CERN, of course). Do you do any of that?

Well, this topic isn't quite the shining success I hoped for. Maybe it's more of a phd-comics sort of thread... are most of you guys in high school or something?

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby nilkemorya » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:37 pm UTC

Heh, I can't stand coffee, but I do love me some science.

Superlayman terms: I measure magnets and stuff.

XKCDlayman terms: I'm currently working in magnetic metrology for the LCLS project. Basically, characterizing field strengths and shapes vs. current in magnets for a particle accelerator. Which is a pretty cool project. Also, waiting to hear back from grad schools...which is not so cool of a project.
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby taby » Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:14 pm UTC

I don't work in a scientific environment (unless one counts computer science as a hard science), but that image you posted is really neat.

My question is: Have you done any research into Diffusion Limited Aggregation? Paul Bourke has a neat page on it, showing how they can form a system of arterial paths from random walks. It's very realistic looking.

http://local.wasp.uwa.edu.au/~pbourke/fractals/dla3d/

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby lesliesage » Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:05 pm UTC

nilkemorya wrote:Also, waiting to hear back from grad schools...which is not so cool of a project.
Neato! Where have you applied? I missed out on all that because I got offered a phd by working as a technician in a lab straight out of college. Shapes of fields that magnets make sound cool. But yeah, I don't know nothin' 'bout it 'cept that my flatmate uses particle accelerators.
taby wrote:I don't work in a scientific environment (unless one counts computer science as a hard science), but that image you posted is really neat.

My question is: Have you done any research into Diffusion Limited Aggregation? Paul Bourke has a neat page on it, showing how they can form a system of arterial paths from random walks. It's very realistic looking.
Thanks! And computer science is totally science. Never heard of DLA, but those are gorgeous images. Do they apply to real angiogenesis, or is it more pure physics or chemistry?

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby cathrl » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:23 pm UTC

Does my computer count?

Currently working on software which fuse engineers use to design everything from itty bitty little electronic circuit fuses to great honking things two feet long and one across. The generator they use to test those things is impressive. Momentarily it produces more current than your average power station, apparently.

And that is one fabulous cell. I'm going to show it to my daughter when she gets home from school tonight - she's "doing" cells in science at the moment (she's 11).

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Angstrom » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:37 pm UTC

Hi! Not fond of coffee but i'll come in anyway.

I'm a physics undergraduate, working on mostly cluster hardware that our lab uses to simulate Cosmic Ray Muon Tomography through materials with different atomic numbers.
I'm going to the Florida International Grid School next week, and the OSG is paying for it all (including beachfront hotel), i'm so excited :D

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby pragma » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:50 pm UTC

Layman: I build circuits that talk to fiber optics.

xkcd layman: I build analog front ends for functionalized optoelectronic fibers. (The fibers are totally sweet. By changing the design of the core you can make them conduct light, conduct electricity, sense incident EM fields, sense nearby vibrations, slice things, dice things, act like FETs, make julienne fries; they do just about everything). I also occasionally fiddle with microprocessors, computers and code to make the fibers do more complex things.

Of course, this puts me in a kind of weird place as the only electrical engineer in a materials science lab, but I think its working out OK so far.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby nilkemorya » Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

lesliesage wrote:Neato! Where have you applied?


You are a lucky person to have missed out on that. I applied at Stanford, Santa Cruz, Davis, UCLA, Madison and Chicago.
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby lesliesage » Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:24 pm UTC

nilkemorya wrote:I applied at Stanford, Santa Cruz, Davis, UCLA, Madison and Chicago.
What's your first choice? When do you find out? Sounds like a win-win. I've got friends at Stanford, UCLA, and Chicago, and my supervisor did a postdoc at Davis; I hear only good things. Oh, and I've got a friend who interviewed for her residency at Madison. Like I said, I'm hoping to do 6 months of my phd at USC- there's a lab there doing some cool things in my field. But I'm kind of obsessed with California. After three years here, the UCLA and Stanford campuses were the most beautiful things I'd ever seen, what with their "sunlight" and their "spacious grounds." I've got lucky Berkeley Bears socks, too.

I get a decision in about 10 days from the funding body about the direction of my work, so that's exciting. I hate the wait, though.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby syko_lozz » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:28 am UTC

Hello friendly sciencey people
hehe the aussie system is so much easier than the US one.
although seems you guys get to do more projects as undergrads, our undergrad courses are just coursework.

I'm doing a PhD in immunology at a private research institute linked to the University of Sydney

project in laymamns terms: I give mice asthma then take out their lungs hehe
slightly less laymans terms: looking into the immunoregulation of allergy

edit: my avatar at the moment is a dendritic cell that I drew
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:35 am UTC

I feel stupid now :(

Does steel structural engineering count? It's pretty simple compared to some of the stuff that made my brain hurt while reading...

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby TemperedMartensite » Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:04 am UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:I feel stupid now :(

Does steel structural engineering count? It's pretty simple compared to some of the stuff that made my brain hurt while reading...


Hell Ya! I'm not a big structural materials guy but I'm still signed on to a field trip to tour an IPSCO steel plant. My school doesn't offer a "structural engineering" department persay - but has it as a stream in civil engineering. What are the main differences between Civil vs Structural?

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby masher » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:56 am UTC

syko_lozz wrote:although seems you guys get to do more projects as undergrads, our undergrad courses are just coursework.

Depends on your course.

My undergrad had a project in 3rd yr wirth 1/3 or your total credits.
My Honours year was 1/2 project.

.

I'm currently a postdoc at CSIRO Minerals in Melbourne. I get to play with synchrotrons and reactors! yay me :)

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:03 am UTC

TemperedMartensite wrote:
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Does steel structural engineering count? It's pretty simple compared to some of the stuff that made my brain hurt while reading...

Hell Ya! I'm not a big structural materials guy but I'm still signed on to a field trip to tour an IPSCO steel plant. My school doesn't offer a "structural engineering" department persay - but has it as a stream in civil engineering. What are the main differences between Civil vs Structural?

I grew up near an IPSCO, but it had no effect on my choice in career. However, this is the first time I've heard someone else ever say IPSCO. :)

Well, civil engineering is mostly geotechnical, soils, road design and construction... pretty much everything EXCEPT the building itself (although you might need a civil sub if you have to build on tricky property, they design retaining.) My course involved civil, steel, concrete (simple and reinforced), wood (all types), surveying, and architectural fundamentals. Basically, from my course, a grad could get a job ANYWHERE with a reasonable base of skills (the civil was pretty easy compared to the others, but in the field civil has WAY harder practical problems). Most of our buildings are steel, and that's where I come in, although I can't stamp my OWN drawings (though my boss did get a bill for something like $17,000 for someone else to STAMP MY CALCULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!) We do some wood buildings, and those are totally easy (I just do basic specs, and the estimator pulls up the details). Concrete is mostly fill in the blanks in a few equations, check the building code for minimums, and draw it up. We dont do buildings higher than 7 stories, so my job isn't too terribly hard. Someday, I hope to work on something REALLY spectacular. Civil + concrete = short span bridge design, civil + steel = long-span bridge design and most steel buildings, steel + concrete = composite buildings (what we do mostly).

Still doesn't hold a candle to dendroid something or other kidney squids....

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby masher » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:15 am UTC

Could you make one of these?
Image

I saw a doco on it a little while ago. V impressive.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:20 am UTC

If I had a hell of a lot of time, and a lot of scratch paper? Yes.

However, my design would be functional. THAT design is beautiful. It'll be some time before I can do that.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby TemperedMartensite » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:09 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Someday, I hope to work on something REALLY spectacular.


Definitely! Ouch about the 17k - there are benefits to getting your PEng I guess :P

masher wrote:I'm currently a postdoc at CSIRO Minerals in Melbourne. I get to play with synchrotrons and reactors! yay me :)


Nice - I want to go play with a synchrotron! I might get the chance over the summer - one of my friends is going to be working at the Canadian one.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby iop » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:46 pm UTC

I am currently writing a fellowship application to get money to fund my research and my family.

I have to write a "non-scientific summary", i.e. a summary that people with general science background should be able to understand. What do you guys think?

Growth and self-renewal of every organism require cells to divide. One of the most crucial tasks of cell division is to ensure that each newly formed daughter cell ends up with a full complement of the genetic material (DNA), which is contained in the chromosomes. Failure in proper segregation of the chromosomes may lead to cancer.
The centromere is the region of the chromosome to which the cell division machinery attaches in order to pull chromosomes to the daughter cells. It is characterized by the presence of the protein CENP-A (for CENtromere Protein A). For proper chromosome segregation, it is important that there is only one centromere. Yet, the position of the centromere on the chromosome is not defined by the DNA. Instead, when chromosomes duplicate, CENP-A is loaded onto the chromosome onto the region where it has been before. Exactly how this happens is largely unknown. My host lab and others have recently discovered two new proteins that may be involved in loading CENP-A onto the centromere.
I will study how CENP-A is loaded onto the centromere in human cells. To this end, I will combine my expertise in image analysis with the expertise of my host lab in high-end microscopy and molecular biology. I will investigate the function of the two newly discovered proteins, and carefully analyze the distribution of CENP-A on the centromere in order to test different hypothesis about the mechanism of CENP-A loading onto the centromere. Based on the insights from these two cell-based experiments, I will attempt to reproduce CENP-A loading onto the centromere in a test tube. This will test whether all important proteins involved in the process have been identified, and it will allow further dissection of the mechanism in a highly controlled environment.
Understanding of the mechanism of CENP-A loading will help us to treat cancer in two ways. Too much CENP-A in a cell causes additional centromeres to form and has been associated with colorectal cancers. If it is possible to properly regulate CENP-A loading onto the chromosomes, and thus centromere formation, we may be able to prevent or treat this cancer. Conversely, inhibition of CENP-A loading onto the chromosome leads to cell death. Since the centromere is only needed for cell division, the knowledge of how to block its formation completely will provide us with a new weapon against quickly dividing cancer cells that will have no side-effects on non-dividing cells.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby masher » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:32 pm UTC

How does this sound?

Feel free to ignore any and all of my suggestions.


The growthGrowth and self-renewal of every organism requires cells to divide. One of the most crucial tasks of cell division is to ensure that each newly formed daughter cell ends up with a full complement of the genetic material (DNA), which is contained in the chromosomes. Failure in proper segregation of the chromosomes may lead to cancer.

The centromere, characterized by the presence of the protein CENP-A (for CENtromere Protein A), is the region of the chromosome to which the cell division machinery attaches in order to pull chromosomes to the daughter cells. It is characterized by the presence of the protein CENP-A (for CENtromere Protein A). For proper chromosome segregation, it is important that there is only one centromere per chromosome; yet. Yet, the position of the centromere on the chromosome is not defined by the DNA. Instead, when chromosomes duplicate, CENP-A is loaded onto the chromosome ontoin the region where it has been before. Exactly how this happensprocess occurs is largely unknown. My host lab and others have recently discovered two new proteins that may be involved in loading CENP-A onto the centromere.

I will study how CENP-A is loaded onto the centromere in human cells. To this end, I will combine my expertise in image analysis with the expertise of my host lab in high-end microscopy and molecular biology in order to . I will investigate investigate the function of the two newly discovered proteins. I will, and carefully analyze the distribution of CENP-A on the centromere in order to test different hypothesis hypotheses about the mechanism of CENP-A loading onto the centromere. Based on the insights from these two cell-based experiments, I will attempt to reproduce CENP-A loading onto the centromere in a test tube. This will test whether all important proteins involved in the process have been identified, and it will allow further dissection of the mechanism in a highly controlled environment.

Understanding of the mechanism of CENP-A loading will help us to treat cancer in two ways. Too much CENP-A in a cell causes additional centromeres to form and has been associated with colorectal cancers. If it is possible to properly regulate CENP-A loading onto the chromosomes, and thus centromere formation, we may be able to prevent or treat this cancer. Conversely, inhibition of CENP-A loading onto the chromosome leads to cell death. SinceAs the centromere is only needed only for cell division, the knowledge of how to block its formation completely will provide us with a new weapon against quickly dividing cancer cells that will have no side-effects on non-dividing cells.
Last edited by masher on Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:43 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby iop » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:39 pm UTC

masher wrote:How does this sound?

Mostly better than my non-native english.

Thanks!

I guess you though it was understandable?

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby masher » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:41 pm UTC

Quite understandable to me, but I am an "educated scientist" (albeit a physical one), so that may have coloured my reading a bit...


.


Missed one:
In the 3rd para
to test different hypothesis about the mechanism

should be
to test different hypotheses about the mechanism

(edited it)
.

What sort of fellowship is it?

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby iop » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:53 pm UTC

masher wrote:What sort of fellowship is it?

Postdoc fellowship for a cancer research organisation (obviously).

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby masher » Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:56 pm UTC

nice!

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:05 pm UTC

I'm currently working as a research technologist and as soon as the scopes free i'll pull some immunostaining up for your psychedlic viewing pleasure.

I'll be applying to grad programs (probably) in the next 2 years, and had a few questions. I've done a bit of research but not enough to merit anything worth further investigating, so was wondering if someone knew anything about immune responses to parasites, particularly how some parasites suppress said immune response.

Grad schools imposing if your unsure of what you want to spent the next 5-7 years studying.
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby masher » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:08 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Grad schools imposing if your unsure of what you want to spent the next 5-7 years studying.


Come to Australia.

Get your PhD in 3-4 yrs, with no stupid coursework.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby asad137 » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Grad schools imposing if your unsure of what you want to spent the next 5-7 years studying.


Well, that depends how you define "studying". Nobody does 5-7 years of coursework in grad school. Most of the time is spent doing research. You should think of it as maybe 2 years of coursework with the remainder in lab.

FWIW, I didn't have to take any courses in grad school, and it wasn't in Australia either. But that's sadly no longer the case at my grad school, or most grad schools in the US.

(Hi, I'm a postdoc in physics, doing experimental cosmology -- building a millimeter-wave polarimeter to study the polarization of the cosmic microwave background).

Asad

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:03 am UTC

University of Chicago does a "grad student at large" deal where you can clear your coursework without being thesis driven, i guess its a way of getting the classes done without having to shack up with a prof. I don't know much about it, but am curious as an interim.

I meant its imposing in so far as I'm unsure of what area of bio I want to eventually move into.
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Eps » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:07 am UTC

masher wrote:Come to any country that uses the UK university model. Get your PhD in 3-4 yrs, with no stupid coursework.

Fixed, but QUOTED FOR TRUTH regardless, particularly if you aren't a theoretical physicist or applied mathematician. I can't tell you how many times I've wished I'd stayed in the UK due to being sick and tired of jumping through the ridiculous US grad school hoops, from courses to prelim exams to qualifiers to yet more courses, all of which have almost zero relevance to my current or future work as an experimentalist. I'm glad I came here -- my major professor is awesome -- but my word, I hate the US PhD system with a passion. I'm aware that there are some, particularly theorists, who argue that PhDs without these courses and exams would be weak, but this doesn't stand up to the reality of all the people who got their PhDs under the British system or its cousins in Canada, Australia etc. who are in faculty positions in top US universities.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:36 pm UTC

Does the UK system not require a standardized test? Because the GRE's seem a little pointless for PhD programs in biology (whooo, i can memorize lots of words that no one uses as part of their everyday vernacular! I MUST be a good scientist!).

What about the job market though, I don't want to be potentially limited to where I can find employment because I got a PhD out of the country. Is that the case?
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Infornographer » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC

Still looking for dark matter. :/

I'll let you know when I find it.
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby iop » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:18 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:What about the job market though, I don't want to be potentially limited to where I can find employment because I got a PhD out of the country. Is that the case?

A science PhD is one of the most transferable pieces of paper, since science is one of the most globalized fields. As long as you make sure that you do your PhD at a good university in a top-tier lab (which means that you are going to get good publications and that you are going to make valuable contacts) you are not going to have problems.

I'm unsure of what area of bio I want to eventually move into.

Most good graduate programs will allow you to do rotations in your first year - i.e. you will be working in ~3 different labs which allows you to see very different aspects of biology, so you're not going to be forced to stay with an individual professor (unlike the European pre-Bologna system, where you choose a professor to do your PhD with. There you're stuck from day one - but you have less coursework). Also, the courses tend to be broad in the first year, so that you get a lot of information to help you choose.
Finally, if you plan to do a postdoc afterwards, you will get the opportunity to completely switch directions, should you wish to do so.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:43 pm UTC

During my undergrad I was very interested in self-enclosed ecosystems (Biosphere2). Anyone know anything about programs for these?

@iop: I like cell biology. Thats like saying I want to live in America (East Coast? West Coast? Down south? Midwest?). Oh well, give it a few more years and I'll figure something out.
Was thinking of doing something cross disciplinary, biomechanics or such.
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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:48 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:During my undergrad I was very interested in self-enclosed ecosystems (Biosphere2). Anyone know anything about programs for these?

Count me in as an interested party (I'm trying to combine my lust for architecture, my fetish for complex statical math, and my hobby of human sociology, and SECs combines them all!)

ETA: Although it's ostensibly for space travel, I am a proponent of the "fire and forget" style of enclosed architecture, especially where it pertains to neighborhood / ecovillage / arcology design. Also, F*** you, Mozilla! Arcology is a WORD!

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby taby » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:31 pm UTC

lesliesage wrote:Do they apply to real angiogenesis, or is it more pure physics or chemistry?


As far as I know, DLA is used mostly to model chemical deposits. This might be interesting: http://www.andylomas.com/aggregationImages.html

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby Eps » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:27 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Does the UK system not require a standardized test? Because the GRE's seem a little pointless for PhD programs in biology (whooo, i can memorize lots of words that no one uses as part of their everyday vernacular! I MUST be a good scientist!).

Not from British applicants, because of the very stringent accreditation procedures for UK degrees. A degree in, say, biology from Nowhere College, Someshire is in principle as good as one from Oxford. Obviously it's not quite that simple, but there is FAR! less of a difference in quality between different universities/colleges as compared to the US. As for international applicants, YMMV, although the GRE is very much something from the American model and so unlikely to be asked for by most UK institutions. What is different is that everyone has an interview, either in person or over the phone. That's when they can see a little of what you're made of.

What about the job market though, I don't want to be potentially limited to where I can find employment because I got a PhD out of the country. Is that the case?

See my previous post. I think, if anything, American employers seem to give higher prestige to British PhDs than they do American PhDs from an institution of equivalent quality. Of course, if you want an academic job, it's all about the publications, reputation, contacts and having an influential major professor ;)

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby RockoTDF » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:28 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Does the UK system not require a standardized test? Because the GRE's seem a little pointless for PhD programs in biology (whooo, i can memorize lots of words that no one uses as part of their everyday vernacular! I MUST be a good scientist!).

What about the job market though, I don't want to be potentially limited to where I can find employment because I got a PhD out of the country. Is that the case?


Sadly the GRE correlates with your first year grades. That is why they still use it, much to the disgust of grad applicants everywhere.

Anyway.....

I'm an undergrad working in a Comparative Psychology lab studying bubble nesting in Betta Splendens. Right now I am writing python extensions for the GIMP to measure the density/area of their bubble nests. One of the other students in the lab is going to start an endocrine disruption experiment this week, which I will be helping with.
Just because it is not physics doesn't mean it is not science.
http://www.iomalfunction.blogspot.com <---- A collection of humorous one liners and science jokes.

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby The Ethos » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:44 am UTC

Just an anecdote to consider, having sat on a chem faculty hiring board as a student: it was generally recognized that a British Ph.D., while prestigious for a Brit, does not require the time investment that an American Ph.D. does. For whatever reason, U.S. (again, just in chemistry as far as I know) academics are big on the snobbery that is the full 5-7 year thesis. (This bias only extended as far as hiring US undergrad Brit phd chemists, not British nationals.)

The only Us educated Brit PhD student that was really considered, was the one who point blank said on his cover letter that the only reason he went to England was because Professor X in the field of such and such was doing exactly what he wanted there.

Also Re: the GRE as an admission tool in the US system.

SUCK IT UP.

If you are an educated scientist, you will be able to figure out the vocabulary using your acquired greek and latin roots that you know, because you are a scientist. Verbal grades go much further in acceptance then Math as far as science phd candidates are concerned. And yes, it does correlate to US doctoral/masters classroom GPA. (Practical/Thesis is another matter altogether....)

As a side note, many times this is also why the subject test (esp. biology) is recommended (read:required) for admission as it covers other aspects of the science then just the primaries (e.g. environmental and botany: fields not commonly studied). Excelling in these tests shows an element of a well rounded candidate.

Of course nothing can substitute for recommendations and interviews though.

/Grades can be inflated, GPA is only a slightly reliable parameter (class/subject ranks....better. Like I said, a reccomendation from a prof that calls you one of the top 10% s/he's seen in X years of teaching.....excellent qualifier)
//Sorry about the snark
///Just began night call, and I have to be on again at 8 AM
Thanks, and have a Scientastic day! - Dr. Venture

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Re: Lab Life: The Scientist's Coffee Corner

Postby SpitValve » Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:49 pm UTC

TemperedMartensite wrote:I measured the deposition of "ancient tidal rhythmites" (fancy expression for the mud and sand layers deposited when the tide goes in and out - only these are roughly 110 million years old). From this I constructed graphs and did stuff :P (more than 1 in 6 months!) such as the one below:

Image


The physicist in me wants to do a Fourier transform of this data...

It's not science until it has a Fourier transform!!


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