From impressions

ADVICE FOR POTENTIAL GRADUATE STUDENTS

(CLICK HERE FOR PIN-UP POSTER – pdf file ~85k) – We suggest photocopying at 129% – LTR to 11×17 – We currently have room in the lab for more graduate students. But before you apply to this lab or any other, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be realistic about graduate school. Graduate school in biology is not a sure path to success. Many students assume that they will eventually get a job just like their advisor’s. However, the average professor at a research university has three students at a time for about 5 years each.…

I’M STILL PROUD EVERY TIME I TIE MY SHOES

Scientific inquiry can be driven by a variety of motives. Certainly the quest to cure cancer can be a matter of wanting to simply help, but even anger, frustration, or grief can be involved. Recently, I saw a news story of a researcher who forged results for new cures, exposing patients to dangerous treatments for his own pride or vanity. And here, scientists sometimes seek recognition, or positions of power. In academia, jobs are won and lost based on the progress of scientific research. That is motivation enough for some. But in the ideal world, scientific inquiry would be driven…

WHO’S THE CUTEST RATTLESNAKE?

After passing me a beer from the fridge, Kimberly led me to the snakes, which were contained in forty-gallon Rubbermaid bins in her living room. I sat down while she shifted the bins to clear a place on her floor where she and her colleague Jayme could work. As soon as she moved the bin, a warning rattled from within it. That sound could strike fear through any heart, and to calm mine, I took a long swig of my beer. Despite this initial reaction, which I have no doubt evolved to experience, when Kimberly—Dr. Kimberly Andrews, who works for…

HOW TO THINK ABOUT ETERNITY

Thinking about eternity is not simply an esoteric mental exercise. It’s a cure for boredom, a panacea for the trivial, a respite from the mundane. And it’s the sort of thinking best done on your own. If you say to your spouse, “Let’s stay in tonight and bat around the notion of eternity,” chances are that he or she will look at you blankly and reply, “I was hoping it would never come to this.” Approach it calmly – there’s no need to work yourself up into a lather by drinking turpentine and spitting fire. But be careful. Intellectual escapades…

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT JOHN MICHAEL GRIFFIN, JR.

- FROM THE ARCHIVES – Griff, as he was known in high school, was a friend of mine. In fact, late in the first half of our lives, he stood up for me physically and philosophically, for being a science geek. Truth is, John’s endorsement was the first time I was ever deemed cool for wanting to be a scientist. It is also 10 years ago, that Griff died an engineer and a hero in the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers. We lost touch almost twenty years before, but his kindness and generosity formed not only…

LOVE AND DEATH AT THE NIH

I first started experimenting with watercolor about 10 years ago, and from the beginning got into “wet in wet technique.”  To paint “wet in wet” you paint a base color and then add other colors to it while it’s still wet.  This allows the different colors to bleed into each other, making interesting patterns. People who saw my wet-in-wet work at shows kept mentioning how much it looked like cells under a microscope, so I found some images of cells in mitosis, or cell division, and discovered that they did indeed look a lot like what I was doing.  After…

BOILING LOBSTERS AND OTHER THINGS PEOPLE DO

Is it OK to boil a lobster? Short answer: Yes, of course it is. Long answer: Let’s consider the life, or rather the death, of a lobster. In nature lobsters begin very small and die a million horrible deaths in a million horrible ways. As they get older the death rate drops. We have ample evidence that lobsters do not go gentle into that good night, dying peacefully in their sleep at a ripe old age. Instead, once mature, a lobster that doesn’t go into the pot might face off with cod, flounder, an eel or two, or one of…

GENOMIC DNA EXTRACTION IS ABOUT THE PLAYING

We are grand father-grand son duo emotionally intertwined like the two complementary strands of a DNA duplex. Unlike the weak H bonds in the biomolecule, our attachment is due to divine bonds strengthened by a friendship extraordinaire. Farzaan, eight-year old grandson of the senior author, is a regular viewer of ‘Backyard Science’ shows on television. Some months ago he dared his grand father, a university teacher of plant cytogenetics to coach him perform molecular biology experiments in their home in Kolkata, India. The kid had jeered at his friend-grandpa: “You bore me incessantly with your books and bla bla about…