Saturday, March 3, 2012

What I Do...

I often try to describe to people what it is I do. Without getting too specific, I work in a lab that studies epigenetics and how genes get turned "on" and "off." The video below is really interesting and it does a good job explaining what epigenetics is.

Watch Epigenetics on PBS. See more from NOVA scienceNOW.

Towards the end of the clip it talks about epigenetics and cancer- this is what I study. More specifically, I will be studying how a new cancer drug that is in clinical trials works (and if it alters the epigenome). I eventually will try to see if this would be a good drug for pancreatic cancer patients.

If you are really interested, this video explains Rainbow the calico cat that was shown at the end of the first clip.

Now if you really want to embrace your inner "dorkdom" continue reading...

Dean is the orange cat sleeping on my head in the picture above. Because Dean is a boy he has one X chromosome, and one Y chromosome. Boys don't inactivate their X chromosome because they only have one and inactivating it would be lethal. Dean's mother gave him an X chromosome with the gene for an orange coat. So while Dean's mom may have been calico Dean is not because he doesn't randomly inactivate an X chromosome like his mother would. Cool huh??

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No one seems to be updating their blogs lately- myself included. There's nothing on TV and my neighbors are playing their stupid techno really loud (it's 3:30 in the morning). It really is stupid music. I don't get it, the same line repeated over and over and over again? Maybe I'm exaggerating. I am grumpy when I'm tired.


My friends and I went to see the Gounod opera Romeo et Juliette the other night.


Can I just say, even from the nosebleeds I was smitten. Romeo was amazing; I'm glad I paid the extra five dollars to rent binoculars.


I think the techno stopped. Maybe I should go to bed now... before I am tempted to buy the magic jack. The Tummy Tuck Belt people already got me.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." ~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Today my friends and I went for afternoon tea. Tea parties are as fun for grown women as they are for little girls. We went to the Scarlet Tea Room on Green Street in Pasadena.

The next time I'm at Ross I'm going to buy a fancy hat to wear for our next tea party.

The tea service began with a sweet raspberry sorbet- "to cleanse the palate."

As part of the tea service each of us chose a different tea "infusion." Cristina chose Eve’s Temptation - An infusion of blood orange, mango & apple; for Lisa- Once Upon A Tea - An infusion of chocolate bits, vanilla, mint & a secret. I chose Really Raspberry - Raspberry, rose hips, orange peel, hibiscus, fruit blend, berry leaves & pomegranate. They were all very good, but my favorite was Eve's Temptation.
I have to admit that I liked having my own tea pot. It was fun.

It was also fun using gold tongs to handle the sugar cubes.


We enjoyed a scone...


The scone was accompanied by fresh, whipped cream, strawberry preserves, and lemon curd.

The small, dainty sandwiches were just like the ones you read about in Jane Austen novels (or if you are like me you see them in Jane Austen movies).
They varied from walnut, chicken pesto and Parmesan to fig and goat cheese, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella, to green apples and cheese, salmon and chive spread, and brie, walnut and watercress.

I don't think I need to elaborate about dessert- this picture is enough.

Just when we thought the tea service was done, the waiter came out with fresh berries and whipped cream. I LOVE whipped cream.

It was so much fun. I think the only males in the entire joint were the waiters and the pianist.
I'm totally serious about getting an outrageously fancy hat for the next time we have afternoon tea.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"This website is the brainchild of my brainchild, Ryan. It is my brain-grandchild."- Michael Scott, The Office

This semester I am working in a lab that studies Alzheimer's disease. This lab is WAY better than the last one I was in. There are no cranky, pregnant, French, wenches that take delight in making my life miserable. My boss is really cool- President Obama thinks so too- he gave her a citizen's award because she started a program that gets minority, high school students involved in scientific research.

I am taking a systems physiology class; we are currently talking about the nervous system. The professor brought some human cadaver brains for us to see.

I'm sorry if this grosses you out. (Well, not that sorry because, hey, I took pictures and posted them online). I've recently been learning to dissect mouse brains. There is a "mouse model" that parallels Alzheimer's disease in humans, so basically the mice get Alzheimer's and we learn about the disease (and hopefully develop treatments for it) by studying them. Taking the brains "out" is really creepy and gross at first. I feel guilty and like I'm going straight to hell every time I dissect out a brain.

Once the brain is out you don't really associate it with the animal that died- you run your experiments and do cool stuff with it...
... Cool stuff like fluorescently labeling a 10 micron section of brain to look for specific molecules and their interactions with other molecules within a cell.

When I held the cadaver brain in the pictures above, it was really fascinating and cool, not creepy. It would be totally different if I would have had to remove it from the cadaver- actually seeing the person it came from. I bet more people would be vegetarian if they had to butcher their own cows and chickens- it's a whole different feeling when you see the animal die. Then again, maybe it's not. A lot of people go deer and duck hunting. I'm not opposed to hunting- let me clarify- I'm not opposed to other people hunting.

I like to eat meat, but I don't want to see where it came from. I like to do cool experiments but I don't want to be the one to kill the mouse (I'll do it, I just don't want to). Maybe this makes me hypocritical, maybe not. If it does, I guess I'm okay with being a hypocrite.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"It's a great day for America everybody, yes it is!"
Jordan and I had 2nd row seats for a taping of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson a few weeks ago. It was awesome, we were only a few feet away from Craig. Neil Patrick Harris was the guest- he's okay, I was just there for Craig.
I love when he does his Prince Charles impressions.

I've been in Provo for the past few weeks...
Luckily the snow has almost completely melted. I really don't like snow. I am happy to be in Utah with my family and friends though.

My first semester in graduate school went well- at least I think it did. My two classes (cell bio and human genetics) didn't wipe me out. I ended up working in the lab that studies cancer. It could have gone a lot better than it did. I didn't really get along with the post-doc that was training me. I don't think she liked me very much, but that's okay, she's not my favorite person either. Next semester I am working with a professor that studies Alzheimer's disease. I think I'm going to like working with her a lot.

I've been watching so much football lately, I almost know what's going on. My dad has a thing for Faith Hill.
He never misses the Sunday Night Football song.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

¡Sí se Puede! - Yes We Can!

President Obama spoke at USC on Friday. It was a really long day filled with lines and standing around, but it was totally worth it.
The zoom on my camera was pretty good. I wasn't that close to the podium, but considering it's the President of the United States I was in a good spot.

President Obama gave a really good speech.
President Obama's slogan of Yes We Can, was borrowed from the United Farm Workers' slogan- Sí se Puede. César Chávez helped come up with the slogan when he organized the Farm Workers in the '70s.

Jamie Foxx was at the rally too. He announced Barbara Boxer, and Jerry Brown. He was trying to get the crowd excited about voting.

It was a really neat experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nerd Speak

Last week at church they called me to the break the fast committee. Today (fast Sunday), I was in the kitchen cleaning up when a guy who is new to the ward (like me) came in to heat up the fried rice he brought.

This guy is also a new PhD student, but he goes to Caltech and studies math/rocket science. Before you know it he's asking me questions about my program and we are talking about genomes and stem cells. But we weren't just "talking" about it, we were engaged in full on Nerd Speak.

One of the bishopric members was also in the kitchen doing something else; I know that the small smirk he was trying to hide was aimed at us.

Because of the Nerd Speak.