Category Archives: Dr-ing

PSA after a week in the vortex

You know those weeks that make you feel like you’re living in a vortex, with no sense of which direction is up or down (much less what time or day it is) all week long? And you can’t really care either because regardless all you’ll do is wake up and race to work and (16-18 hrs later) return home and pass out, just to do it all again the next morning? That has been my week. There was no running no reading no knitting and no cooking (pb & j & coffee don’t count).

IMG_20140126_045306

If deciding to bring the whole damn French press to work at 4 am on a Sunday isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. (My appreciation for this t-shirt is equally worrisome.)

Why is the concept of a big picture so difficult for some people (smart people…really smart people) to recognize? At this point I’d be satisfied with recognition. Acceptance would be a gift from god, never mind understanding. Recognition of the space-time continuum would also be fantastic – not having to perpetually justify why I haven’t completed a +48 hr experiment in <24 hrs. Finally, a common perspective of sleep being a necessity rather than a luxury would be wonderful. Unfortunately, the current dictator of my life (one of aforementioned really smart people) struggles with all of the above. HARD.

With this in mind, my PSA for the weekend is directed towards anyone who:

  1. Doesn’t take the required 15 seconds and 12 brain cells to calculate how long it takes to do something, and then compare it to the time elapsed since asking your graduate student/postdoc/employee to do said something, before badgering  aforementioned brain-on-a-stick about having done it already
  2. Graduate student/postdoc/employee = brain-on-a-stick
  3. Sees no difference between 3 pm and 3 am…on any of the 7 days of the week
  4. NIH proposal and DARPA quarterly report deadlines slow the passage of time down to a screeching halt and put everything else that is happening in the world on hold

For anyone that the above 4 criteria apply (this is a digital assessment/step function, if you think >0 but <4 points pertain to you, you are in denial…all 4 apply) STOP IT!!

STOP IT NOW!! You are being irritating, exhausting, demotivating, and irrational!! 

IMG_20140125_123233

This t-shirt is awesome, until it literally applies to you. I highly suggest that you don’t let that happen (I’ll be making DAMN sure it doesn’t happen to me).

1 Comment

Filed under Dr-ing

How went the 13 in 2013?

Happy Annaversary! Can you believe you’ve been reading this high brow literature for a year already?! Crazy, right? Well, time flys when you’re having fun 😉

Those of you who’ve been here from the very beginning, I’m sure you’re itching to know how I did on my 13 goals for 2013. Well, you’re in luck! Here is how they went…

Dr-ing goals:

  1. Become good at learning and remembering peoples’ names 
  2. So I’ll be the first to admit that his is still not exactly my strong suit, but I have become loads better at knowing who the hell I’ve talked to and why. It doesn’t come particularly naturally yet, but the embarrassing situations of clearly not having a damn clue are much fewer and farther between.

  3. Become comfortable making non-painfully-awkward small talk 
  4. Much better. Still not my favorite, but a necessary evil game that I can not only play but also now usually win.

  5. Read one paper a day (NOT the MN Daily)
  6. HA! Fail! Big fail! This will be recycled for 2014. At this stage in my career this really shouldn’t be hard. But it is. It really is. 😦 Why?

  7. Graduate
  8. image
    Done! 😀

Trotting goals:

  1. Run 5 days a week (1 mile, 5 miles, 20 miles, whatever, just get my ass outside and do something)
  2. Nope, didn’t happen! In retrospect, this was also not realistic. 4 days a week is reasonable and this happened when it needed to (marathon training season…the second one).

    image

    ...come hell, high water or 100°F + 100% humidity...

    Unfortunately it didn’t happen during the off season. We will be revisiting this issue for 2014.

  3. Finish the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon (t < 6 hrs)
  4. image

    Done! (By the skin of my teeth and thank god, but never mind…)

  5. Half-marathon PR
  6. So I didn’t have the chance to race any 1/2s this year so officially this was a fail. But, if you’re willing to grasp straws with me, the middle half of my Philadelphia marathon was a 1/2 marathon PR… If you’re not buying this (you shouldn’t be….I’m not…) it’s ok, this will be on the 2014 list with some uncharacteristically high stakes attached. The plan is to pace the first half of a BQ marathon for my faster, more dedicated couisin. God help me.

Me goals:

  1. Be a non-promiscuous, healthy vegetarian again (i.e. eat loads and loads of fresh fruits and veggies, no cheating on tartar, sushi or bone marrow and cheese curds and beer are NOT an acceptable dinner — even during orals season)
  2. I’ve been better… This probably needs to stay on the list.

  3. Drink  enough water
  4. Hmmmmm….unless coffee and tea count in the tally this also needs to stay on the list.

  5. Get a reasonable start on my/our children’s book series TAPP — hopefully this will make sense in a year
  6. 😦

  7. Maximize the use of my electronics: iPad, cell phone, computer(s), mp3 players. All of them.
  8. I’ve definitely been better. This will also continue to be a work in oprogress, but I’m happy to report that my technologically challenged self hasn’t totally failed here.

  9. Be at work during “normal business hours” (+/- 20%)
  10. So this was going reasonably well in MN but is literally impossible in the land of persister assays. Consequently, reestablishing something that loosely resembles a work/life balance has a special place reserved on the 2014 list.

    image

    Note: it IS important to still look cute when leaving work at 3 am

  11. Start and maintain a blog on the joys, frustrations, enigmas and epiphanies of science and running —  you’re welcome
  12. We’re all still here, aren’t we? A year later you are still most welcome 🙂

This year has been rather eventful actually. I (somehow) managed to graduate with my PhD and move 2000 miles to the armpit of the northeast lovely Garden State for a postdoc (with which I’m still having serious relationship issues), in the opposite direction of all parts of my family. In my “spare time” I got to spend 2 weeks on an adventure in Tanzania (complete with a safari and Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon) and managed a second marathon with my second-to-none Team CEMS and a 10 min PR. Not bad.

Happy end of 2013!

1 Comment

Filed under Dr-ing, General, Trotting

Antibiotics in Crisis

The point of  my PhD was to develope alternative approaches to effectively treat bacterial infections, relative to our current antibiotics.

The point of my post-doc is to figure out why the __(fill in the blank with your favorite 4-letter word)__ some bacteria aren’t affected by our current antibiotics.

bug

This article gives a fantastic suggestion for how everyone can contribute to solving the global problem of antibiotic inefficiencies (aside from spending 10 years of your life researching the issue). Considering the source, there is really very minimal jargon and it’s short, fact-based and overall very understandable. So, please check out Antibiotics in Crisis.

In the mean time —

stop taking so many damn antibiotics!!

Thank you 🙂

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr-ing, General

How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science, thank you Randy Shekman

It was (unfortunately) refreshing to come across this article. My guess is that it will also hit (maybe a little too close to) home with most who struggles with the balance of publishing sound research, exciting and impactful research. Personally trying to do all of this while observing what work has been deemed to be all of this by the influential heavy hitters in the field can be extremely frustrating. To be fair, much of the works that do earn press between the luxurious covers of NatureCell and Science are studies that I could only dream of dreaming up, much less having the skill, motivation and resources to do. But, it’s extremely refreshing to hear an extraordinarily accomplished (read: 2013 Medecine Nobel laureate ) scientist’s concern about the clout and exclusivity of these journals and excitement about the new, accessible alternatives and their potential impact on the scientific community and society.

How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science

The incentives offered by top journals distort science, just as big bonuses distort banking

by Randy Shekman

9 December 2012

Litter in the street

The journal Science has recently retracted a high-profile paper reporting links between littering and violence.

I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession’s interests, let alone those of humanity and society.

We all know what distorting incentives have done to finance and banking. The incentives my colleagues face are not huge bonuses, but the professional rewards that accompany publication in prestigious journals – chiefly NatureCell and Science.

These luxury journals are supposed to be the epitome of quality, publishing only the best research. Because funding and appointment panels often use place of publication as a proxy for quality of science, appearing in these titles often leads to grants and professorships. But the big journals’ reputations are only partly warranted. While they publish many outstanding papers, they do not publish only outstanding papers. Neither are they the only publishers of outstanding research.

These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called “impact factor” – a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself – and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking.

It is common, and encouraged by many journals, for research to be judged by the impact factor of the journal that publishes it. But as a journal’s score is an average, it says little about the quality of any individual piece of research. What is more, citation is sometimes, but not always, linked to quality. A paper can become highly cited because it is good science – or because it is eye-catching, provocative or wrong. Luxury-journal editors know this, so they accept papers that will make waves because they explore sexy subjects or make challenging claims.

One example of this is this 2007 Science article in which the authors (Asara et al) claim to identify protein sequences from the bones of a 160,000- to 600,000-yr-old mastodon and a 68-million-year-old T. rex. At least 5 follow up articles were published in response/objection to this work, fueling both traffic and citations for Science magazine. While there was a range of tones across the resulting articles (one of which compares the researchers to a small child watching a monkey type on a keyboard), they all raise valid concerns about the technical approach used and conclusions drawn in the article.

This influences the science that scientists do. It builds bubbles in fashionable fields where researchers can make the bold claims these journals want, while discouraging other important work, such as replication studies.

In extreme cases, the lure of the luxury journal can encourage the cutting of corners, and contribute to the escalating number of papers that are retracted as flawed or fraudulent. Science alone has recently retracted high-profile papers reporting cloned human embryos, links between littering and violence, and the genetic profiles of centenarians. Perhaps worse, it has not retracted claims that a microbe is able to use arsenic in its DNA instead of phosphorus, despite overwhelming scientific criticism.

There is a better way, through the new breed of open-access journals that are free for anybody to read, and have no expensive subscriptions to promote. Born on the web, they can accept all papers that meet quality standards, with no artificial caps. Many are edited by working scientists, who can assess the worth of papers without regard for citations. As I know from my editorship of eLife, an open access journal funded by the Welcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Max Planck Society, they are publishing world-class science every week.

Funders and universities, too, have a role to play. They must tell the committees that decide on grants and positions not to judge papers by where they are published. It is the quality of the science, not the journal’s brand, that matters. Most importantly of all, we scientists need to take action. Like many successful researchers, I have published in the big brands, including the papers that won me the Nobel prize for medicine, which I will be honoured to collect tomorrow.. But no longer. I have now committed my lab to avoiding luxury journals, and I encourage others to do likewise.

Just as Wall Street needs to break the hold of the bonus culture, which drives risk-taking that is rational for individuals but damaging to the financial system, so science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals. The result will be better research that better serves science and society.

Leave a comment

December 10, 2013 · 11:26 am

Week 18 + 1

Mon 11/18 – walking normally but allowing stairwell descents to be a bit of a spectator sport

Prying myself out of bed was not the easiest or prettiest this morning. Thankfully nothing really hurts but the quads are strung high as an assistant professor at an Ivy League institution (but let’s save that for another day). My sweet new shirt and chauffeur hat (Thank you Drs. Hill!! 🙂 from the weekend did ease the pain a bit though. Or, maybe it was the vat of Ben-Gay that I bathed in…hmmm… In related news, my office mates love me.

20131128-111321.jpg

Overall things are just fine. I do find the following to be helpful for speeding up recovery the first few days after a marathon, today included…

1. Make a point to keep moving to help loosen things up and prevent stiffness from setting in. Get up and move around at least every 30 min or so if you’re shackled to a desk by chains masquerading as an NIH proposal (or any other detestable pile of papers)
2. Carefully rub out sore muscles (+\- Ben-Gay as your office mates and housemates sense of humor allows) and ice swollen parts.
3. Ideally after #2, carefully stretch out the legs, arms, back and whatever other parts are being egocentric. Apply more ice as appropriate. With any luck you’ll see yourself making progress here over the course of the day.
4. Drink lots of water and snack on fruits, veggies and whole grains as hungry. I always find myself feeling dehydrated and hungry when I wake up the morning after (imagine that 😉 Taking in lots of fluids and healthy, easily converted to energy, fuel seems to alleviate some of the problems.

Tues 11/19 – walking and stairs 

See yesterday’s post above (minus the outfit…In an uncharacteristic series of moves I showered and changed clothes on a day with no running)

Wed 11/20 – rest

I’m feeling just about back to normal today (loose definition of “normal”of course) aside from the growing F32 pain in my ass…

Thurs 11/21 – writing like a mad scientist

Please refer the latter part of Wed’s post (i.e. last 4 words). Thank you Dr. B.

Fri 11/22 – writing x-(

20131128-111449.jpg

See former part of Thursday’s post (i.e. first 7 words and 1 number). Dr. B, you have successfully climbed to the top of my list. Congrats.

Sat 11/23 – 6 mi 🙂

Not my prettiest 6 miles, that’s for sure, but it was great to peel my ass off of my desk chair and get the legs turned over. I felt a little heavy overall but no big pains or tight spots 🙂 The lungs started their protest only a few miles in, but in their defense they are less than a week off of a pretty respectable fight and it has gotten chilly (45F) and drier. I’ll need to stay tuned into these changes as I form my winter/maintenance/building plan.

And of course, more writing…

Sun 11/24 – F32

20131128-111603.jpg

Total mileage =  6 mi

I’m very happy with my recovery. No injuries, not any real soreness as of Wed and a run that was (quite frankly) not much worse than many 6 milers I’ve run this season.

Ok, so what next?

Well, between now and Dec. 8th there won’t be a whole hell of a lot of time for anything besides writing this lovely wretched F32 NIH postdoctoral fellowship application that I keep referring to. I have queue of items for which I need to write posts and said fellowship has taken a number. (Hopefully I’ll get to it before I’m back here complaining about not getting it.) In short an “F32” is a funding opportunity offered by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to postdoctoral researchers in the early stages of their career. The “F” stands for fellowship (contrary to any rational line of deductive reasoning which leads to another, much more appropriate, f-type word) and the “32” is beyond my (admittedly lame) imagination. Anyway, the NIH presents this opportunity as a nearly incomprehensible mountain of “directions” with more feedback loops than a process control Ph.D. thesis. The desperate postdoc and their advisor then, to the best of their combined abilities…and multiple terminal degrees…draft, wrangle, compile and submit the ~100 documents by the deadline of that funding cycle. Deadline for this funding cycle = December 8th. When Dr. Trot was informed (by an advisor that shall remain unidentified of course) that she would be applying for this = November 18th. Aforementioned anonymous advisor has made himself very unpopular…and Dr. Trot a very ornery busy girl.

So this is the immediate next. This is also a warning that I will continue to be scarce until late in the day on December 9th or early in the day on December 10. (It just depends upon how long the hangover lasts…getting old is rough!)

Other near future nexts:

1. Thanksgiving in CA! 🙂 Feast cooking + wine county touring 5 days = AWESOME
2. Queen Penny moves to NJ! Since Dr. M will be traveling back to the homeland in December, QP will be coming back to Nj with me for a vacation with her best friend Princess Pheona. They are excited.
3. Pottery class. (No, no that was not left field…)
4. The new winter training plan that will aim to build my core strength, speed and endurance while shedding some of the in-build Insulation that I brought with me from MN. Ouch. Hopefully also a 3:xx spring marathon as well. Patrick…

4 Comments

Filed under Dr-ing, Marathons, Trotting, Work out

Congrats Dr. Maroof!!

Last Friday my partner in crime defended his PhD 🙂

Congratulations Dr. JP!

A number of immediate perks of doing this include –

a) Dressing up in fancy clothes and talking for an hour (or however long you damn well please) about what you’ve invested the last 6 years of your life on, to an audience that is obligated to pay attention and act like they sincerely give a shit…

20130823_140728

b) Eating this for dinner…

20130823_191126

c) Spending the evening with your friends on a swanky rooftop…

20130823_192934

d) Having the biggest concern of your Saturday morning be whether your eggs benedict should come with salmon or crab cakes…

20130824_113625

Now PhD defenses always make you feel pretty special, but you know you’re really cool when have these three attendees in your audience…

Tolstoy

Tolstoy!

20130823_150242

The one-and-only DFR (pictured) AND Wolfie!! (The Wolf = not pictured; rather, snoozing away in the kind-of-pictured green stroller.)

The one little catch of this  situation is that after the lovely post-defense weekend it’s balls to the wall in order to —

  1. Finish paper and thesis revisions,
  2. Pass off everything to the next generation,
  3. Pack up and ship or sell everything that has been accumulated at Club 321 over the last 4 years by the end of the month and
  4. Ship off to Berkeley, CA with a few suit cases of clothes and a Penny cat.

Not that any of this is so horrible or anything…kind of like how drinking out of a fire hose can’t be that bad… Having survived the last 6 years however, I’m sure everyone will be fine.

So, CONGRATULATIONS DR. JP and best of luck with that fire hose over the next 3 days.

Has anyone shipped a shit-load of books (or stuff in general) across the country recently? Any great insight on what the cheapest options are?

1 Comment

Filed under Dr-ing, General

The Hyperloop

While hard at work today, I came across this lovely little proposal written by my buddy Elon Musk. In this he suggests an alternative to the rather disappointing mass transit rail system approved in California for connecting the cities of San Fran and LA.

In his 57 pg document, Musk starts with a very general popular science discussion of the problem at hand and his proposed solution. He then goes on to back up his suggestions with a number of diagrams and calculations (that are beyond may abilities to be at all critical about). There are, however, many people who do feel plenty qualified to take Musk’s proposal apart, throw it on the ground and stomp on it (or perhaps run it over with a train).

Do you think it could work? I have no idea, but I think it sounds AWESOME!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr-ing, General

From defending to New Jersey (but not yet defending NJ)

It’s really high time (literally, I’m trapped in an airplane for the next 3 hours! …hahaha…never mind…) that I fill in some gaps that I’ve left, well, gaping, over the past few months. Per my most “recent” (think loose definition of the word here boys and girls), however untimely, post we re-hashed the lovely experience of my PhD defense. As of May 31st it was official! Dr. Trot has her PhD in something besides finding her own jokes entertaining and bad story telling (it is in chemical engineering to be exact…and yes, this does help explain the aforementioned odd sense of humor and questionable social skills). This information was happily received by moi en route to Princeton, NJ. So what the hell happened between May 3rd & May 31st, you ask? That’s a very good question! Thank you for inquiring! Let’s take just a second to catch you up to this point then, shall we?

So after the defense and after party on May 3rd, May 4th was spent with a monumental hangover and cruising around the Festival of Nations in St. Paul with Dr. Wil, Katie (who was part of a number of irish step dance performances…which, PS, are VERY cool!) and Krsna. Sadly I have ZERO photos of all the fun foods we tried. The only real don’t-need-to-try-this-again was the Tibetan coffee (which I think is actually supposed to be consumed more like a soup) that was made with cream, salt and butter. You could distinctly taste each and every ingredient. BLEH! After the FoN we hit up the Minnesota Historical Society (Katie is a historian here and totally hooked us up…also, fyi, she will totally whip your trail every time in a who-can-recite-more-fun-facts competition…) for a Civil war + Abe Lincoln exhibit.

20130701-221832.jpg

Krs, Dr. T, Katie, and Dr. Wil…errr….I mean two brave Civil War soldiers and two beautiful women from the late 1800s…all looking damn good for their age!

Very cool! We wrapped up the day with a walk around the beautiful St. Paul cathedral and a stop for coffee. Heading home I was finally starting to feel like a normal human again!

Ov the next few weeks there were too many celebratory lunches, happy hours and hours and hours… and dinners to recount them all. Let it suffice to sat that it was great spending overdue QT with a lot of peeps that I’m really going to miss :-/ Let me also note a couple of particular outings that warrant special attention…

1. Lady’s night at Alma with Ladies A & A
These two have been my friends since before I can remember. Ironically while I have lived within 100 miles of my home town my entire life, both A & A have lived all over the place. Now though, they are both back in Minneapolis, and I’m leaving! Yeesh! Anywho…on one delicious/generous Friday evening, they took me out to a local French restaurant, Alma, for their 5 course tasting menu. AMAZING I had been here once before an am now wondering why the hell it was only once. The place is speedy (let’s be honest / point out the obvious) but it is damn good. After dinner we went to the Marvel Bar for cocktails and atmosphere. This place is totally hidden in the basement if an old building in the wear house district. You have to go in the back, basement door and down a hall to an unmarked door. You open the door…and…SURPRISE! there is a spunky, charming, cocktail bar filled with out of the ordinary. It was a great way to spend the evening with two very above ordinary women!

2. Rooftop wine and sushi
May 23rd was a rough day. This is when it really hit me that I was leaving this MInnesota graduate school ChemE world, that has been my whole world for the last 6 years, behind and starting up something totally new, totally alone and totally far away. I was hit by this ton of bricks as I watched (and video taped, like the very good friend that I am) my close friend and favorite groupie Dr. K defend his PhD thesis. We have seen each other just about each and every day for the last five years. We’ve helped each other with the personal and professional bullshit of work/school/life and enjoyed our successes side by side. AND THEN BOOM!!!! IT’S ALL OVER!!!! Or so that was how I felt. Maybe Of course I was being a little over dramatic. We all move forward in life (obviously this is a good thing) and we will continue to stay in touch and be part of each others lives as good friends do. Now, what the hell does this have to do with rooftop wine and sushi? My buddy Mr. M and I decided to celebrate the this process of moving forward by doing something that both we (and coincidently Dr. K) have very fond memories of, rooftop wine and sushi at Seven. Two glasses of wine, a nice breeze, agedashi tofu, a summer roll and a winter roll were exactly what I needed.

20130701-223242.jpg

Agedashi tofu (read: heaven)

20130701-223251.jpg

Winter and summer rolls

Never mind that afterwards we strolled over to The Local Irish pub for some Guinness and a dessert sampler platter (meant for at least 4). Waddling home fat, tipsy and happy was fantastic.

3. Smack Shack snack
One place Mr. M and I wanted to go for a special night out before leaving Minneapolis was the Smack Shack. To celebrate my moving half way across the country to be all by lonesome wonderful post-doc opportunity on the east coast we went out for a very crabby dinner 🙂 We split the famous crab cakes, lobster roll and lobster mac-n-cheese (stop judging, it was delicious) and washed it all down with a couple glasses of wine.

20130701-223901.jpg

Crab cakes

20130701-223912.jpg

Lobster mac-n-cheese

20130701-223918.jpg

Lobster roll!

This was sooooo my kind of Sunday night!

In addition to pigging out at every opportunity, I also had to pack up my entire professional and personal life for the 1300 mile relocation. NBD, right? Wrong.

Thanks to my awesome group mates, passing work stuff on went as smoothly as one could hope for. I will miss the Kaznessis group loads though.

Packing up the personal life though…man…that was tiring and expensive! I was quoted between $900 (for essentially a Fisher Price tent) and $3.5K (for what should include restoration services for my items in addition to their relocation) to transport my belongings to NJ. In the end I argued a lower-end-of-the-cost-spectrum company down to $1,400 from their original ~$2K for a 7x8x9 pod to pack all of my precious material items into. Let me just say two things: 1) Dr. Trot has a lot of shit aforementioned precious material items, and 2) 7x8x9 is the size of a small bathroom! Have you ever tried to move all of our stuff into the bathroom? I wouldn’t recommend it! First of all, it’ll make using the toilet a serious challenge and damn is it a lot of work! Thankfully, I have the world’s most amazing friends and brother and we worked it out. Everything besides the second hand Ikea couch and shitty Target kitchen chairs made it in!

20130702-211244.jpg

Lady A (from dinner at Alma) even helped me with the cleaning (and may “helped me” read : did just about all of, and a better job than I would have). Everyone was awesome. Seriously awesome!

My final food-and-drink-centric farewell party was at the Loring Kitchen and Grill the evening before I left. I would totally not recommend planning things this way as it is just that much more exciting to be on an additional self-imposed time crunch during endogenously (ask Google) stressful processes. Again, it was a night filled with totally awesome company that make leaving a whole hell of a lot tougher.

Thursday morning, departure morning, came very bright and early (true to form after a late night of farewell partying). Mr. M and I had the car loaded (precious Bianchi and all), tires pumped, oil checked, kitties off at Miss Kookie-the-Kitty-Sitter’s and were on the road by 8 am.

20130702-211604.jpg

Truth be told, this is nothing short of a miracle. Subsequent miracles include making it through Chicago with only one Dr. Trot screw up by mid afternoon and then to Callehan’s in Elkart, IN by dinner time. This is my adviser’s family-in-law’s family restaurant, just off of the IN turnpike at exit 42. We were advised to stop in for steak and eggs (M mixed it up and got the Greek chicken) and ask for Kostas.

20130702-211753.jpg

Before…

May the record show that Dr. YK was a very good adviser in this matter. The atmosphere was charming, the food was delicious and Kostas was second to none.

20130702-211843.jpg

…and after.

If you are ever making your way though Indiana, in the vicinity of Notre Dame, do take a side trip to Callehan’s. Turnpike…Elkart exit 42. Now we/mostly I were bound and determined to make it to Cleveland by the end of day 1. An extended dinner at Callehan’s + the dark + the rain + the 15 hours since we had left home all conspired to convince us to pull over for the night about half way between Toledo and Cleveland. Over all a freaking expensive Holiday Inn Express good decision I believe. Dr. Trot, Mr. M and the precious Bianchi all slept like babies.

Day two started a bit later, 10 am, and was only an 11 hour day of driving. Ohio is boring, Pennsylvania is beautiful and New Jersey, for better or worse, is home now. And this brings us back to May 31st – when I, (officially) Dr. Trot, (officially) moved to New Jersey, yo!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr-ing, General, Travel, Trotting

Dr. Trot, PhD

Now that things are a bit more under control than they have been in the last few months (and since I have no friends to hang out with in Princeton yet…but never mind), let me fill you in on the major events of the last handful of weeks.

First off, Dr. trot now has her PhD!!

I defended my thesis, Gene expression control and antimicrobial peptide production by haute couture bacteria, on May 3rd. The PhD defense process for our department is quite similar to the way most programs work (I think…).

First, there is a bunch of time sensitive paperwork to first scavenge from a number of ambiguously described niches of the interweb, then fill out and finally submit to a variety of seemingly unrelated (however, all apparently somehow very important to my graduation) offices.

Next is the fun part, the actual defense. So the defense is technically an exam. However, it’s also really a celebration and feels a lot more like this then like an exam. When you’re ready to defend you’ve already done all of the work, run all of the experiments, crunched all of the data and written all of the papers. You have become the expert on your work and are given a stage from which you can arm-twist your family and friends into being a captive audience for 45 min to hear about what has consumed the previous 4-6 years of your life (and a damn good excuse to dress up in a shirt with crazy frilly sleeves and pointy, paten leather, red heals :-). During the first ~45 min, you present your work to your adviser, your 4-person faculty committee and the family and friends who prefer NOT to receive lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings next Dec. whose schedules are flexible enough to allow them to attend in the middle of the day. Next, the floor is open to questions from anyone. This usually lasts 20-30 min. Last, the public (friends and family) are kicked out politely asked to leave, and you are left with only the committee to continue closed door discussions for another 20-30 min. After this, you are asked to step out of the room so “the committee can deliberate.” This is really just a formality though; I have never heard of anyone even coming close to failing. After a brief wait in the hall, your adviser comes to fetch you and your committee parades out the door, shaking your hand and congratulating you along the way.

At this point you have a very precious piece of paper work that you have to submit (w/in 24 hrs of your exam, or something crazy like this) to the graduate school and then it’s PARTY TIME!!!

One other very important point to note is the defense food. When you defend, you’re responsible for providing snack for your committee and audience members. My family’s arms were double twisted into coming AND bringing food, and a good choice by me (if I do say so myself) because the snacks they brought were amazing! They brought a butt-load of homemade sweet breads (banana +\- chocolate chips AND nuts, blueberry oatmeal, and chocolate) and savory bread (zucchini cheddar), fruit, coffee and water. It was all absolutely wicked good. This is important as both students (whose behaviors towards their colleagues are very food-mailable) and faculty (whose moods/senses of humor/empathy towards lowly graduate students are easily influenced by good/bad grub) hit up the snack table first thing as they walk in the door. So, T, F, & L, thanks so much!!!

Our department tradition is that the new Dr. takes their family and friends hour for happy hour(s) at a local establishment of their choice. You basically hand over your credit card with the lowest interest rate and assign someone to making sure you reunite with it at the end of the evening and make it home (rather than to detox for example) in one piece. (Thank you SmAdj 🙂 No one wants this tradition to end. 🙂 I had my defense party at the Kitty Cat Klub, the same place I celebrated passing my qualifying exam (10 days shy of ) 4 years earlier and woke up without a plastic ID bracelet (thanks again A 🙂

20130609-175703.jpg

While I’m in the business of thanking people, I also need to thank Sir. K, one of my very good friends from undergrad who came all the way from Chicago to attend my defense and spend the weekend in Mpls. Thank you!

After nursing the defense weekend (yes, weekend) hangover, the final steps in wrapping up were to make a few final thesis edits, print and bind the friggen expensive thesis, complete exit paper work and pass my work (lab samples, supplies and reagents, files and papers) on to my next of kin. It’s funny how a month seems like so much time to get all of these things done, until you’re living in that one (what the hell was i thinking?!?! month. :-/

And with that, ready or not (hint: one never says this if they are ready) I was off for NJ!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr-ing

Commencement!

There is about to be a recurring theme with the way I begin my posts…

HOLY SHIT HAS IT BEEN BUSY!! 

Thus, I have a lot to write about and you, consequently will have a lot to bore yourself to sleep read about! Shall we start from the top? I think so.

So two weekends ago was crazy freaking busy. First, I had my commencement on Friday afternoon and then my sisters bridal shower on the following Saturday.

Commencement day began with an overly indulgent (but sufficiently justified of course) breakfast at the Wild Roast Cafe in the St. Anthony Main neighborhood. I ordered the veggie strata

Veggie Strata

2nd place Veggie Strata

which sadly came in a distant second to my partner in crime’s Classic Benedict with crab cake.

1st place Classic Benedict

1st place Classic Benedict

This was not easy for me to take as I am usually the queen of ordering awesome food.

SAMSUNG

Taken while still blissfully ignorant about the deliciousness of my VS.

Thankfully though, the more I consumed of my very gracious friend’s food the better I felt about the situation.

Taken while still blissfully ignorant about the amount of his brunch I was about to consume.

Taken while still blissfully ignorant about the amount of his brunch I was about to consume.

Next it was on to commencement with some awesome friends and HOT, complicated robes and hoods. Even in MN we were roasting alive! (Not that you can gather that from the washed out picture or anything…)

SAMSUNG

Dr. T, Dr. MA

SAMSUNG

Dr. SI, Dr. T

The ceremony was only 3.5 hrs long and about half way through we got to

hooding 1

get hooded…

hooding 2

…successfully…

hand shake

…shake hands with our mouths hanging open…

pose 2

…and take awkwardly posed pictures (yet still ensuring that our teal nail polish is visible…WINNING!!)

Our adviser Dr. YK hooded both Dr. K and I so we had to take more pictures with him together after the ceremony was finished.

Dr.K, Dr.T, Dr.YK

Dr.K, Dr.T, Dr.YK

100_1215

Dr. T, Dr. YK

And then we went back to our department and wrangled up people for a few more photo ops in front of our building.

SAMSUNG

Dr. MM, Dr. MA, Dr. T

SAMSUNG

Dr. J, Maria, Dr. T, Dr. K, Katie, Brittany

Finally we wound down the evening with some awesome eats at the Birdhouse  in Minneapolis.

Over all it was a SUPER fun day and a perfect way to close things up with friends and classmates as we all finish up and head off on our next adventures. However, I would not recommend back-to-backing commencement activities with sister’s bridal shower activities. Sister Anna’s bridal shower was scheduled to begin t-minus 12 hours after returning home from commencement celebrations. This is a very short amount of time to recover from said previous festivities and prepare for upcoming events. However, it is also a very long time to have to deal with perpetual shit-on-fan-contact. Stay tuned! 🙂

What was your commencement ceremony like? How did you celebrate? Was it in the midst of a busy time of year?

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr-ing