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!