Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time

Hi everyone,

As you can tell, I have not written a blog post in a while.  That is due to having a lot of work and not enough hours in the day.  I am in the middle of my second round of exams/ midterms, thesis, and graduate school applications.  I am feeling overwhelmed and am having troubles expressing my feelings.  However, I am glad that to say I am currently working on my discussion for my thesis and am finding it very exciting.  I LOVE science; if there is one thing I can count on in the academic world, it is feeling happy and at peace when I am in the lab.

I want to reminder my peers to take time for themselves.  We are at a very stressful time in our lives (midterms, job hunts, grad school apps, graduation….), but take time to listen to your favorite song or converse with your friends over dinner.  I am beyond grateful to have my parents in my life, and my friends.  Without them I would not be as sane as I currently am.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Yom Tov

Hello Everyone!

Unfortunately, I started to write this post on Sunday and never posted it!

I hope that everyone had a great Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  I am thankful that my parents were able to come up for Erev Yom Kippur and Kol Nidrei.  Dinner before the fast was catered from Brent's Deli: Chicken Matzah Ball Soup, Latkes, deli Turkey, deli Pastrami, deli Cornbeef, Rye Bread and Chinese Marble Cookies.  My suite mates and I have been eating almost non-stop since yesterday evening.  I cannot imagine going back and eating dinning hall food for dinner.  I would much prefer to eat Brent's Deli for days.  They have the best Jewish food on the West Coast.



In the Rabbi's Sermon Friday evening, she talked about truths and lies.  Apparently, 1/5 of every statement a college student tells their parents is a lie.  But where do we learn to lie?  From our parents.  As my parents were there, it is an inside joke.  In fact, it appears as though we lie on a daily basis.  Lies can be as simple as "I like you shirt" when you don't.  If we lie so often, how do we stop?  We can stop by keeping our mouth shut when we cannot tell the truth, or when we do not have something nice to say.  Currently, I am watching Gilmore Girls Season 1 Episode 5 and the topic of when to tell the truth and when to lie came up.  Lorelei said "I don't know what to tell and what to hide"after telling her mother the truth and her daughter telling her to lie.  In my opinion, you should not lie, and if you have to lie to hide something, then telling the truth is a must.

The only update I have on the thesis front is that my experiment has failed twice more.  I only have about another week to complete my experiments for the thesis, but I plan to continue when I can because I want to get the experiments right!  On the grad school front, I finally have a list of schools complete and my letters of rec are starting to get in order!

I am glad that this week is coming to an end.  I have not been sleeping a lot this week due to the busy season that is called midterms.  I had two midterms this week; it was very stressful.  I love learning new information, but I don't believe that exams portray all of the knowledge that I know.  I am excited for this weekend, and being able to take some time for myself to relax and read a book.  I have such amazing friends and family members that have helped get me through this week.  My friend wrote me this amazing sign that she posted on my door this morning that lifted my moods tremendously.


As always, talking to my mother calms me down, and makes me happy.  She knows me so well, and I always feel more relaxed after our conversations.  This week, minions were the key.


And my true minion inspiration:



Thursday, September 25, 2014

L'Shanah Tova!

L'Shanah Tova!  

On this day, September 24, 2014 the night before 1 Tishrei 5775, I attended dinner and services at Hillel.  We have a a very tight-knit community; it was amazing being at "my Jewish home away from home" again now that my Jewish friends are back from abroad.  Tonight, Rabbi Daveen Litwin gave a sermon on fears and hopes explaining that the right balance of the two is essential to ensure that you continue to thrive and are able to push forward with your life.  Included in the top 10 list of fears in the US is flying, intimacy, spiders, death, and being alone.  I was surprised to see fear of flying at the top of the list, but was surprising was that both intimacy and being alone were on the list.  How do you draw the line between intimacy and being alone?  How does one define intimacy and being alone?

In my mind, I think of intimacy as engaging in an intimate or sexual act and being alone as having no one around you (no friends or family) that you can lean on.  I decided to look up the definition of intimacy, as there are many different connotations of the word, and being alone.  

intimacy:
1. the state of being intimate
2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.
4. the quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar

being alone:
1. solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people

While being alone has a pretty clear-cut definition, there are many definitions for intimacy, making the line between intimacy and being alone different from person to person.

If there is no clear-cut line between intimacy and being alone, is there a clear-cut line between fears and hopes?  Is there a connection between fear and hope?  In general, one concentrates more on their fears than their hopes as they are more scared about obtaining their fears than their hopes.  I have decided to write a list containing my fears and hopes.  As you can tell from the list below, my fears and hopes are very much rooted in the now and my "immediate" future.


Fears:
-That I won't be good enough
-That I won't meet my families expectations
-That I will not obtain my academic standards this semester
-That I will not be accepted into a graduate program
-That I will not do something great with my life
-That I will not find a husband
-That I won't remain healthy, or that my health will get worse

Hopes:
-That I become confident with myself and who I am
-I have a successful career and help advance cardiac care
-That I make an impact on the world
-That I have an amazing family
-That I become more outgoing
-That I can manage my time better and participate in the senior college events

What are your fears and hopes?  I find that my fears and hopes are highly interconnected, and maybe that is what keeps me going?  I work hard so that I will meet both my expectations and my families expectation, which in turn will help advance my career and make me more confident.  I can find the connections between my hopes and fears, but one thing that is interesting is that wealth is not at the top of either of my lists.  Many people are concerned about their wealth, yet as long as I have an amazing family, am happy, healthy, and love my job that is all that matters.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hectic

Hectic.  That is the word I would use to describe my life right now.  I feel as though I have been running around for days trying to get all of my school work accomplished and attending all of my meetings.  I think the worst of the week is probably tomorrow.  I will have no more than 1.5 hours to my self starting at 9:30 am and finishing 10:00 pm.  Then I will have to start my schoolwork.  To give you an idea of how much I have been running around, I walked 14,000 steps today with an average of about 12,000 steps per day for the last week.  I had no idea senior year would be this crazy; I wish I had been warned!  

In spite of all that, I have still managed to take some time for myself everyday.  I have relearned how much I love to read, and make sure that I read every night before I go to bed.  It really helps me unwind.  

In fact, I made a Costco run this weekend, and I picked up some "typical" college foods: 5 lbs of cookie dough, granola bars, snack packs, and wine (for when I need to unwind a bit :)).  

I also managed to get off campus for some pretty good food! 





I even got to sneak off to the pool for a "work out".



Until next time!


Monday, September 8, 2014

It's the weekend (or actually Monday) of week 1!

Hello fellow people!

I have not had a chance to post, in part because I am not sure what I want to say.  I have delved right into my classes, and they are going!  While I will not say that I love them all, they are all good classes with knowledgable Professors.  However, instead of an update on classes I want to update you on a) grad schools, and b) my social life.

a)  I am on my way to completing my list of graduate programs!  I have looked at over 15 programs already, and have at least 10 more to go.  Right now, my list contains 12 schools.  It is interesting to see how this list grows and changes.  By this Friday, I should have a complete list of the schools to which I will apply.  The excitement continue to build as I get closer to the momentous event of graduating and starting the next stage of my life.

b)  I had a great weekend.  I completed my schoolwork, and had time to go out and play.  I went to my favorite cupcake place this weekend.  As it had been such a long time, I ate one large peanut butter chocolate chip cupcake with a chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting and one mini snicker doodle cupcake.  They were AMAZING!  In addition, I got to spend hours hanging out with my friends catching up.  I couldn't have asked for a better first weekend back on campus.





I would love to leave this blog post by saying a Happy 24th wedding Anniversary to my parents.  They even sent ME a GIFT!  It was amazing.  So much love to get around.


(The PERFECT way to describe my weekend)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Classes = Complete

Another year has passed by where I can say I completed my first day of classes.  It is amazing to be back on campus, and overall I am very excited about the classes that I am taking.  I was very impressed when I walked into my Computer Science class Tuesday morning, and both of the Professors were standing right inside the door.  Immediately, they said hello, introduced themselves, and asked for my name, school, and year.  No, it was not unusual that they asked what school I went to, as I attend a consortium.  In addition, they had the class take selfies and write our names down.  All in all, classes are off to a good start.

I am giving a presentation on Friday about my summer research, and met with my lab Professor today to work out the kinks.  In fact, her research students were invited to a microbiology conference to present their work and she believes that I might be the best candidate!  It is very exciting to have many opportunities where I can share my research, and excitement; it is a great feeling to have a Professor believe in you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Moved In

Am I a senior yet?  Has senior year technically started because I have moved in, or does it start tomorrow because that is when classes start.  I can see how one may view these questions as ludicrous, but in the eyes of my peers and myself, it is a question we are asking.  The start of senior year leaves us all with mixed feelings.  OMG, we're seniors?  Already?  How has town flown so fast?  What do you mean I am going to be in the "real world" soon?  You mean I have to find my own job?  Oh no…senior thesis….

It seems like just yesterday that I moved in for Freshman year, and we were all so excited.  College is a time for us to find ourselves, and to experiment with classes, majors, and career ideas.  For my whole college career I have known that I wanted to go into the sciences, however, I had wanted to incorporate economics into that plan.  Until I took my first economics class, then I just wanted to be in the sciences.
On the other hand, I discovered an area of interest that I never even knew existed before: feminism and science, and the underrepresentation of women in the sciences.  I discovered this subject area Sophomore year while fulfilling one of my general education requirements.  It is amazing what you can learn, and how much you can expand your knowledge, by having an open mind and trying out new classes (even when they are required).

As I am getting ready to start my last year, and to go out into the real world, I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been giving.  The opportunity of going to a small Liberal Arts College.

Here is to an amazing senior year!  Party on :)






P.S.  Here is a picture of my room.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

About to Move In

Hello Everyone!

Sorry I have been MIA the past few weeks.  I have been taking a break from school, thesis, and the GRE's to spend time with my family.  It's been fantastic.  Before I go into too much detail about my life, I would like to let you know that I have taken the GRE's and do not plan on re-taking them.  It is a huge relief to have finished that chapter of my life.

My life the last few weeks has consisted of a trip with the family, including Cheryll (our dog), to Santa Barbara.  It allowed us a chance to reconnect for the first time as a family since winter break, and allowed all of us to have the time we needed to relax.  I am grateful to have been able to spend my days sitting outside at the pool.  It's too bad I got sunburned on the first day though…

Since then, I have been relaxing at home.  I took a few "risks" in the last two weeks, and went Jet Skiing with my crazy (all be it loving…) brother, and kayaking with 12' waves around.  Jet Skiing was exhilarating, flying through the ocean at up to 52 mph.  While that may not sound fast, it is hard to hold on when you are clutching your brothers life jacket and riding over the bumps of the waves.  Needless to say, I am very surprised I was not thrown off.  Kayaking was great because we got to see dolphins and sea lions; two creatures that you do not get to see close up everyday.

In 36 hours I will be moving into my dorm room with four of my friends for SENIOR YEAR!!  It feels so surreal; none of us can actually believe it.  This is the first year where I am solely excited, not anxious, not nervous, just excited.  I have no idea what senior year is going to hold for me, but I know that my first semester will be extremely time-consuming.  I am taking Computer Science, Biostats, and Cell Biology in addition to completing my thesis.  Computer Science and Biostats have two hour labs, Cell Biology has a four hour lab, and thesis is 12 hours in lab.  In addition, I run the Jewish Mentor Program, am a manager of Challah for Hunger, tutor, and am going to TA Molecular Biology.  That's all in addition to applying for grad school.  If you think I have bitten off more than I can chew, than you are probably right.  However, I am ecstatic for all of the above.  It is going to be a amazing, especially with all of my friends back on campus, finally, from study abroad.

I want to thank all of you in advance, especially my loving parents, for helping me through the next semester, as well as helping me get this far in my life.  This is not the life path I would have seen for myself, trying to earn a Ph.D. in Molecular/ Developmental/ Stem Cell Biology, but it is absolutely the right career path for me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Completion

The day has finally come, the day my internship is completed.  It was a very bittersweet moment saying good-bye today (even though it is only for a month). I am glad that I had such a wonderful opportunity to work in lab over the summer and start my senior thesis.  I am ecstatic that I have the opportunity to return to the lab in a month.

Thank you for the ongoing support.  I am taking the GRE's next Friday, and am going into hard-core study mode.  At the moment, I am doing extremely well on the math sections and have some work to do on verbal.  Not to worry, you know my verbal skills are good just by reading this blog!

Until next time!  Have a wonderful rest of your week, and happy hump day. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Good and the Bad

Hello fellow readers,

This past week contained both triumphs and failures.  I finally recombined all of my DNA sequences onto a GFP tag.  In non-scientific terms, I took a circular piece of DNA that contains a fluorescent tag and inserted my DNA sequence into it.  I now have two mutant sequences, and one wild-type or unaltered DNA sequence.


The next step is to put my plasmid (the piece of DNA containing both my DNA sequence and the GFP tag) into Tetrahymena.  I am completing this step with a partner, and we are on our third try this week.  Tetrahymena have seven different mating types, or seven different sexes.  To insert the plasmid into Tetrahymena, you have to starve them and mix two different mating types together.  At this point, the cells are susceptible and they can take up the plasmid.  Unfortunately, the last two tries, it appears as though we had contamination and were trying to mate the same cell types.  

I have also been worried about the GRE's, which I am taking in 13 days.  It is difficult trying to balance everything.  I cannot wait to put this behind me.  While I want to remain at school and complete a few extra weeks of my internship, I am very excited to be at home.

When I got home yesterday, Cheryll was so unbelievably excited.  I haven't seen her this excited, and for a full 23 hours straight, in a very long time.  It appears as though she really missed me :).  I missed her too, along with the rest of my family.  T-6 days until I get to be home for a month.

"I cannot, I have lab"-- the story of my life

Saturday, July 19, 2014

That Hectic Life

Hello!

Life has been VERY hectic as of late.  Yesterday, I worked from 8:45 am to 10:00 pm.  Of course, working so late was unplanned so I did not pack dinner.  I crawled home like a zombie, and stopped for food on my way back to the apartment.  I think I actually fell asleep waiting for my food to be made at Legends Burgers.  The place was very iconic of Route 66 and the 70's.  I had a cheeseburger and a chocolate malt.  I thought it tasted good, but what do I know, I was half asleep.


As I said, I have been working crazy hours, and very hard.  I have gone through not one, not two, but five tip boxes.  





This week, I worked on amplifying the one plasmid that had the GFP tag (a fluorescence) with my desired DNA sequence.  Unfortunately, my other two plasmids that I mentioned on friday, were incorrect.  I have now created my own ultra competent cells, which are E.Coli cells that can take up my plasmid and amplify it, in the hopes that I can isolate my other two plasmids.  I am excited to have one plasmid that I can continue my experiments with.  I reran my experiment with the last of the histones (histones are proteins that the DNA wraps around to condense it from 2 meters to 6 micrometers) I had, which was looking at if one of the histones was shortened; my results were not as good as I expected, however I have results.  I do need some more information to finish my calculations and determine the actual amount of histones that I loaded before an accurate assessment of the experiment can be determined.  In the mean time, I have started to isolate more nuclei (which contain the DNA and therefore the histones) and then the histones so that I can rerun the experiment if desired.

My lab mate was mating Tetrahymena cells this week, and I have a really cool picture and video that I wanted to share with you.


video

I cannot believe how fast time has passed.  I just finished my 7th of 9 weeks for my internship this summer; I am sad that I cannot continue to work in the lab for the month of August.  I am loving it, and am really interested to see what the results of my experiments are!

We created lab shirts, and wore them today to show lab spirit at laser tag today with Keck Science!  They are so cool.  The picture portrays a Tetrahymena cell.  The quote is "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research."--Einstein (spelled Einsten as an inside lab joke)


Of course, none of us pictured above would be nerdy if we didn't make and own a shirt like the one below.

After laser tag, a few of us went out for dinner at Bua Thai, and then ice cream at 21 choices.  I am currently in the process of eating the ice cream and may or may not have finished it by the time you read this.  By the way, the ice cream is a medium/ large.  It is oreo milkshake frozen yogurt with crushed oreos, cookie dough, and sprinkles, similar to Cold Stone.  




Of course, my life would not be complete without me making FOOD!  Most days, I enjoy being able to get creative with my dinners.  While I would love to not eat alone, it is nice because I do not have to worry about the food tasting bad.  Mainly, I eat chicken, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.  I am proud to say that everything I have made has tasted good.




I also picked up a lot of good, and healthy, food from Trader Joes this week.  I have been eating a salad everyday for lunch instead of a sandwich :)  I am very proud of myself for that.

If you have read some of my previous blog posts, then you know how much I love to make popsicles.  I have made a few lately, however I only have a picture of one of them.  I have tried oreos, wafers, pretzels, butterscotch chips. and chocolate sprinkles (shown below).  All have tasted pretty good; pretzels may have been my least favorite and chocolate sprinkles my favorite.

This weekend, I plan to finish writing my methods for my thesis for the experiments I have completed thus far, another draft of my introduction, and loads of GRE studying.  My motivation is going to be seeing Cheryll, my dog, next weekend.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Success At Last

Good evening!  I am going to keep this blog post short tonight; I wanted to update you on the development of my experiments.  If you refer to my blog post a few weeks back, where I explain the GFP recombination that I was attempting to do, then you may understand the difficulties I was having on trying to get my reaction to work.  Well, I have gotten to the reaction to work and have successfully isolated the plasmid (contains the DNA sequence I desired with a fluorescent tag attached)!  I have conformed the isolation of one of my plasmids with my Professor, and I am waiting to here back on the other two.  After many unsuccessful reactions, and only becoming minimally frustrated, I felt elated!  The feeling of having accomplished the next step in my experiment, after SIX weeks, is equivalent to the feeling of a giddy five year old.

Thank you for all of the support; I cannot wait for next week and learning how to carry out the next experiment.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

4th of July Fun

I just got back from an amazing weekend in the Bay Area.  I visited two of my friends from school, spending most of the weekend in the country side.  I went wine tasting for the first time, learning the difference between oaked and unoaked wine.  Afterwards, we took a walk in the countryside, feeding apples to the horses as we walked by.  I was so nervous that the horse was going to bite me!  You have to keep your fingers down, and the horse takes the whole apple in its mouth; it tickled.

Then, we went and saw fireworks at a Temple.  They were short, 15 minutes, and pretty good.  Keeping with the theme of Independence day, most of the firework were red, white, and blue.

After an exhausting day, the three of us decided to sleep in a full-sized bed.  What possessed us to do such a thing, I don't know, however it was the best I have slept in days!  We woke up and went to the beach for a few hours, where we fell asleep guarding our faces from the sun.

After such a tiresome experience at the beach, we stopped to refuel on the way back with some sugar: salt water taffy and Screamin mimi's amazing homemade ice cream.


For dinner, we made a squash lasagna, using vegetables straight from Hannah's Mother's garden.  Not only did we use fresh veggies, but we grated our own Swiss cheese and made two types of sauce from scratch.


The weather was beautiful, and we sat outside for the whole evening (~4 hours).  No bugs, no noise, just the light from the candles and some stars.

Sunday, Hannah and I spend the day in San Francisco.  We started at the Ferry building where we ate lunch.  We got a few different foods and shared them; this allowed for us to try a greater variety.  We tried an Italian doughnut (pictured), olive oils, a grilled cheese containing bread made there and cheese from the surrounding area (so good! pictured), and a famous soft-serve ice cream place.  


Of course, we couldn't stop there.  We went to China Town, where we got Boba (Milk Tea), a large pork bun, a sweet roll, egg tart, and egg roll for $4.75.  We were shocked at how inexpensive all of the food was.  We travelled pretty far down the main road, and then detoured a few shop fronts up to find this place.  It was well worth it!  Of course, ordering was a bit difficult as the people running the store-front did not speak english.


To end it all, we went to this huge Westfield mall.  There were five stories, winding stair cases and escalators, and lots of high-end food places.  Needless to say, it was VERY easy to get lost.  Hannah and I split a freshly-filled vanilla cream puff.  

Last, I went to Peet's Coffee for the first time this weekend.  I went to the original coffee house, and it was so good that I had to go back for seconds!  Before friday, I did not understand why everyone loved Peet's so much.  Now, I am a fan.

It was great to see my friends this weekend.  I have a lovely time with them, and cannot wait for the start of senior year!  

On a side note, I would like to update you on my thesis.  I have completed my first figure!  Six pictures neatly arranged, with arrows.  Also, I was running a gel today that contained proteins.  Unfortunately, the gel broke where I believe my protein was expected to appear.  I guess I will find out tomorrow what happened!

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.  Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.  Just walk beside me and by my friend." -- Albert Camus