Tuesday, December 21, 2010

...and the semester is over.

Well, actually, my semester came to a close several days ago when I completed my Population Genetics exam (which went well, thanks... I worked on it for about 2.5 hours though, which is quite long).

The piece that I'm most excited about is my project proposal I wrote for my research (which you can download here).

Monday, December 13, 2010

What do the NY Jets and I have in common? We're two down.

While the NY Jets have lost their last two games (which makes me and a lot of other Clark students quite giddy), I have completed two of my four finals (hence the two down). With my French final already passed in last week, and my submission of my malaria project last night, I just have one more paper and one last exam between me and my winter break.

My malaria project for Ecology of Infectious Disease, entitled "The effect of global climate change, HIV and land use on malaria in sub-Saharan Africa", wrapped up quite nicely and I'm very happy with it. Here is the abstract (skip it if malaria, HIV, people dying, or Africa bores you!):
Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, infecting hundreds of millions. An overwhelmingly large majority of these cases—approximately 85%—occur in Africa, where disadvantaged socioeconomic standings have allowed it to persist, while it has been long eradicated in developed countries such as the United States. Projections predict global climate change may have a significant impact on the distribution and severity of malaria, pushing current ranges south east, toward the greatest prevalence of HIV in the world. We review current models addressing the effect of climate change on the future of malaria in Africa, and propose additional factors—changes in land use, and malaria co-infection with HIV—in addition to socioeconomical issues, that must be taken into account when modeling malaria distributions in order to create a more accurate picture. We then discuss measures that be should considered in future models and studies, in order to contain malaria and prevent it from spreading.

...and you can download my fancy paper here! Ooh! and below is the poster I made too. It's a bit of a wall of text, but for the topic matter, it's kind of hard to avoid it:
It feels so very nice to be done with this project. While at times my project partner Rachel and I were a bit frustrated, I'm glad it came together on time. But there's no time to stop now; those other two finals need to be tackled too! So until then... *tip of the cap/and some really cool bow or something*

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On a rainy Sunday night...

I always appreciate the light pollution for giving the clouded, night sky a pretty hue, for what it's worth.

It's only 7:30 on Sunday night and the Academic Commons (entrance shown on the bottom right in the picture above) is already getting a bit cozy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's The Final Countdown! (LOL not that song by Europe, but you know, final exams)

This is what my desktop has been looking like recently:

Completely covered in journal articles and maps of malaria and HIV prevalences, changes in land use, etc. It's now the last week of the semester, and we're officially within finals week. This year we've been graced with three reading days. Reading days are class/exam-free days just before several days of exams. They're commitment-free and allow everyone to catch up on their studying and write papers and presentations. Last fall (the most recent semester I was at Clark) we didn't have any reading days. It was a nightmare.

But this year we have reading days! Luckily for me, I only have one sit-down exam on Thursday the 16th. That means I have almost an entire week to wrap up a paper and a poster for Ecology of Infectious Diseases, write and complete a project proposal term paper for my directed research, and compose a bunch of cheat sheet notes for my open note/book test in Population Genetics.
The nice thing about open book tests is not having to study as hard for the exam. However, I find that in making all of my cheat sheets, I never have to use them anyway because I know the material so well after writing the notes out. It's a tricky way for professors to get the responsible students to study thoroughly and then be able to give out a trickier exam!

I'm almost done with my paper on malaria in Africa. I'm writing a paper on how the future projections for climate change to affect malaria are vastly under appreciated, due to complications presented by co-existing infections of HIV and changes in land use (i.e. forest removal) that are speeding up the process for mosquito vector expansion. The paper will certainly be 15-20 pages long at least ("pages" in college terms are similar to high school terms, meaning double-spaced and what not). I hope to have time to make the paper look all fancy and professional, as I take particular pride in my science work. Once I am done with all of my projects, I will post them here for you all to see what science work at the college level can look like!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's Getting Colder Out... And Exams Are Heating Up? or something like that >_>

It's early December and we're without a significant snowfall. It's cold and campus is winding down, while the library and the Academic Commons are getting more full every night with students studying and meeting up for group projects. I'll admit that with finals and without any snow and the trees without leaves, campus is a little dreary.

But campus is always prettier (if not much colder) when it snows. Even though we can't appreciate it much because we're busy wrapping up the end of the semester, it's always nice when the first major snow hits. It's been a little longer than usual for me since I last saw snow because I went to Australia, but I feel like it'll be normal for me to crunch through the snow once it falls again.

My work in lab is still ongoing. I'm working on collecting my "control" plasmid for the expression experiments, and I'll be prepping everything for the transformation process. Hopefully I'll be able to start those experiments at the beginning of the spring semester if I can transform the diatoms before winter break.

In the midst of trying to get everything wrapped up at the end of the semester, which has me a little more anxious than normal already, I'm all of the sudden in the middle of signing a lease on an off campus apartment for next year. Just a block and a half from where I used to live my first year on the edge of campus, I might be living on the first floor of an apartment filled with people I know and like. I'm really nervous though, because I've never signed a lease before and things are not finalized with 5th year.

Anyway, I'll be posting a few posts here and there, some related to lab and others not, so be sure to check back!

Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm about as stoked for finals as a little kid is about having brussel sprouts for dinner

Oh boy.

Thanksgiving break is coming to a close and finals are knocking at the door.

Actually, that was the UPS guy with a package.

But finals really is... right around the corner. I am not particularly excited about this. I was pretty lazy this Thanksgiving break, which might be because I went home extremely early. Now I have to get my high tail into gear and crank out these finals.

First on my list is finishing a long paper, maybe 15-20 pages, on malaria in Africa for my Ecology of Infectious Diseases course. That's a group project, along with the group presentation that's being given during the last week of classes. On a side note, I really don't like having presentations and such due before the exam period, because this means I have several projects going at once with different due dates. By having everything due during exam time, it means things are less cluttered.

This coming week I have just a mini project to start and finish for Thursday. This mini project, for Population Genetics, is going to be worth more trouble than it's work for the grade. However, I'm hoping it'll serve as good practice for the final exam, so I'll crank it out.

But next week is when things start getting a little hairy. The week of December 6th-10th is the last week of classes, and I have to give a presentation and turn in a mock research proposal for Ecology of Infectious Diseases and Population Genetics respectively. That weekend starts a three day period of reading days, which are class/exam-free days in which everyone uses to study and prepare for exams or write papers/wrap up projects.

The following week is the last week of the semester, which in when things really start buckling down. Quite often, professors will have final group presentations given in the final week of classes to allow the exam days to be used for, well, exams.

Thankfully my French class will be ending in a take home exam. That'll be much easier than studying for an exam given during the dreaded exam days.

A little scatter-brained, but that's the best I have for right now. Well, what do you expect? It's finals!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Fest, Finals & Beyond (It's like to infinity & beyond, but I'm not a plastic toy)

Ohhhhhkay! So here's this video I made:

It's an update from the past two weeks, so check it out! I'll be back here in the next few days with a written entry. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween update!

I finished my Fall Fest poster. Very yes! I got it professionally printed, and it stands at a whopping 36 by 48 inches. It's pretty impressive.

Tomorrow is Fall Fest. I'm to present from 2-4PM which turns out to be very tragic for me. Also at 2PM tomorrow is when my beloved study abroad director from Australia is visiting. A complete chance event I will miss. However, I hope to get dinner with him tomorrow evening. I really do not like the structure/syntax of this paragraph. Moving on!

Below is my latest YouTube video, in which I talk about finishing up my Fall Fest poster and shooting a parkour video, which I also put on YouTube.

I also uploaded some recent fall pictures on campus, which you can find on my PhotoBucket.

With Fall Fest this week and out of the way, I have several weeks left of lab time before Thanksgiving Break. After Thanksgiving Break is the notorious start of Finals crunch, which I'll talk about below. I hope to get my diatom cells transformed with the plasmids I made. In order to do that, we'll have to visit colleagues in Rhode Island who have the tools to inject plasmids into diatoms. Diatoms are not supposed to have additional DNA plasmids in their cells, which is why it's hard to transform them.

Other than that, I'll need to summarize what I've done in a paper and write a proposal for my future directions in this project. I'll need to do a lot more background reading to cite different examples and experiments. I'll start writing after Thanksgiving Break, which might be the end of my lab work for the semester. However, depending on where I am at in the project, I might be able to do some catching up in the evenings while I'm doing finals.

I'm a little unsure about my finals for two classes at this point. We're way behind in my French class and have yet to be given an exam. I think we might have a take home "midterm" exam and maybe a take home final exam, but we haven't discussed it yet. I'm also not sure about my final exam in my Population Genetics class.

I just started my final project in Ecology of Infectious Diseases. My project load never ends. For the first part of the semester, I was busy with finishing my plasmids, but then midterms hit me. First it was my Ecology of Infectious Disease take home midterm which was a lot of work, but that was rewarded with a long weekend at home. ...but then when I came back to Clark I had to work on my Population Genetics take home midterm. After I finished that midterm, I had to complete my Fall Fest poster. All I want to do is have a long restful weekend at home for Thanksgiving before a crazy three weeks of finals in December. We'll see how that all goes though.

Oh, and I'm signing up for Spring 2011 classes soon. I always forget how messy the semester gets from the start of midterms onwards.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Post That Is New! Yes!!

Hello ladies and gentlemen and kittentots,

Here is my most recent video!

In it, I discuss what I've been up to the past week or two in regards to my project.

Right now, I'm in sort of a lull as I deal with midterms. However, since my plasmid is pretty much all set up, I'm focusing on the upcoming Fall Fest in early November. I'm currently writing up my materials & methods and such, and preparing a poster for the event.

I'm off to work on a midterm in Population Genetics. Oh boy oh boy oh boyyye!

Be sure to check out the links on the right, including pictures I posted on PhotoBucket!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Updatium on the Projectium

I'd like to post my most recent update in the lab here:

Along with a fun, short little how to video I did on making the media upon which I grow my bacteria:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Step two: Place science in a large bowl, add water, mix, and enjoy!

I just posted my second topic video on YouTube, where I bring a camera into lab to show everyone a sample of what I do in lab.

Last week I ran a gel to check on my DNA sequences yielded from gel purifying double digests. That is, I used enzymes to cut my plasmids, circular rings of DNA, which I then separated on an electrophoretic gel. I cut out my desired pieces of DNA, purified them, and then ran them on a second gel, which I show in the video.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Diatoms, Although Very Small And Lack Cute Babies, Deserve To Be Researched Too!

Here is the beginning of my blog! While a majority of my blogging will be done through YouTube, I'll be sure to post some journaling and pictures here, in addition to keeping a Twitter account, which you can see on the upper right hand corner of this blog here.

This first video gives you an idea of what I do here at Clark as a science student. It's exciting stuff! At the end of that video there's a second video I posted, giving you and idea of who I am.