Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aww, too much work :(

Like the title says, TOO. MUCH. WORK. That being said, I have gone out and had fun. And I even have a few restaurant reviews coming up (although no pictures, sorry)!
I have been trying, and trying, and TRYING to get this behavioral pharmacology experiment hammered down. But the snails don't want to work and the statistics aren't significant. So I'll give it one more shot. And if it doesn't work this time (AND the snails are actually working, so it can't be animals flaws) then I will cry many many tears and have to completely revamp my research ideas. The snails forced me to go into work last weekend and I'll have to again this weekend. So it'll be awhile before I have a day off from work. But (hopefully) all of this hard work will pay off and I will be able to have some down time where I can write up my research, instead of physically researching.
Since we are on the research path- let me tell you the exciting news! While the behavioral experiments aren't working, the electron microscopy experiment is working BEAUTIFULLY. And my first electron microscope experiment is officially done. I just have lots of analysis and write-up. Then, I get to take my results in different directions which I am VERY happy about! So even though the behavior aspect might fail, I can still make something work with the pathway I've taken.
Besides the actual researching, I had another professional skills course on Monday- which was actually good! They gave me a program to keep track of "employable" skills and examples of them. Its great and got me thinking more long term; it also helped me realize certain skills that are lacking for me. There was another skills course on Thursday for using Zotero, which is a bibliographic tool. I definitely want to use Zotero as opposed to EndNote (which I'm using now). However, I need to actually get everything transferred between programs.
Besides work, last week was quite enjoyable (as I'm expecting this week to be as well!). Last Tuesday was, of course, Fat Tuesday. And while I didn't have any Cajun food ( :[ ), I did celebrate the British version of Fat Tuesday- Pancake Day! A few of my friends got together to have savory crepes for dinner and sweet pancakes for dessert. Delicious and perfectly fatty! I also went out to eat three nights in a row this past week- which was a little ridiculous, but SO much fun. AND SO DELICIOUS!
First restaurant review: Little Bay. It is a baby chain, as in it has a few other restaurants in London. However, since it just moved to Brighton, everything is half price. It is French food, French DELICIOUS food. The interior is swanky-theater with velvet curtains, balcony seats, and paintings of famous people. I had cheese and garlic stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer, cheese stuffed pork in a mushroom/red wine sauce, and french fries fried in goose fat. And OMG was it good. All for under 10 pounds :)
Second restaurant review: El Mexicano. It was the highest rated Mexican restaurant in Brighton and it was... decent and expensive. I had the Chicken Tinga, which was pretty authentic. However, it was really expensive and the portions were small. Plus, and this must be said, Mexican food isn't healthy. But I feel like over here, they try to take a healthier view on it. And that's just not how Mexican food works. Mexican food is meaty and cheesy and saucy. Which is why its SO delicious.
The third restaurant is The Geese, which is the pub that we went to for trivia. The burger and fries were good, especially since they were served with a garlic dipping sauce. The trivia was fun, although there were too many music questions and the science questions were all ecology-based. Which made for a very unhappy me haha. We got second to last place (which seems to be a reoccurring theme). We will continue to try different pub quizzes and have a team goal to move up to third to last place haha.
And on Sunday, I decided to walk into town from the University. It took me about an hour to get into Brighton (I walked through two cities to get there) and it was so nice! I love long walks and it was something I've wanted to do since I got here. There are two parks along the way, pretty close to the University. And I'm looking forward to further exploring them when its springtime.

Don't worry, work isn't completely taking over this week. I'll have interesting things to write about for next week :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Winning: Having a social life while doing a PhD

First, I'd like to start with a confession. I write this blog weekly (or try to) but often forget what I've done earlier on in the week. So I often consult my Google Calendar to see what it is I've done.... Talk about memory FAIL, which is ironic because that is what I'm researching...

... Anyway.

Now that the Google Calendar has been consulted, I'm happy to say that I've been quite social this past week! I'll only recap the highlights:
As we all know, Valentine's Day was this past Tuesday. I got lovely cards from Nana and Dziadziu and Jenna. Thanks guys! On V-Day night, some of my neighbors and I got together for junk food and movie watching. We watched Love Potion 9; a cheesy rom com where two scientists use a love potion to get others to fall for them. It was pretty tragic (although surprisingly entertaining). The deciding factor to watch the movie? My exclamation of "I love science!!!!!" when the synopsis was read out. Besides the corny movie, I ate way to much junk food, and it was amazing :)
Thursday was Caitlin's birthday so a big group of people went out for a pub crawl. We went to pubs in the Hanover area, which I'd never been to before. It was a GREAT time and I met some really awesome people. We also played fun games- Cards Against Humanity (a better version of Apples to Apples) and Eat It. And I do love a good game....

Today I went into Lewes with my friend Sarah. I'd been to Lewes before for Bonfire Night, but hadn't actually gotten around to exploring the town. And I'm so happy I did! Lewes is adorable and old and everything I imagine a British town should be like :)
Lewes Castle:

There was a toy crane. Needless to say, I was ALL over that.

15th Century Bookshop

The Priory

General cuteness/ Reasons why I love Lewes

Now on to the part of the blog post that doesn't have any pretty pictures: work. I turned in my mid year progress report this past week. Haven't heard back on it, but my supervisor looked it over and said that it looked good. So that is one milestone passed! As for the experiments, I had this nice plan of a behavioral pharmacology experiment, followed by a molecular experiment. However, on Wednesday when I did the behavioral testing, I sadly found that the experiment failed. But I changed around the experimental design and am adding a section where I test the animals used. Because part of the failure was that the control animals did not respond appropriately. So the issue may just have been that no learning occurred at all. Anyway, I'm starting my new, revamped version of the behavioral experiment this coming week. If THIS experiment fails... well, lets just say I REALLY hope it doesn't fail. I filled my open days with TEM work, and this time the experiment went right! I SAW THE LABELING!!!!!!!! Do you realize how exciting that is? Probably not, but wow, I'm terrible at using the electron microscope. But I'm finally getting better AND the labeling is coming through! This is good, this means the experiment worked :). One failure and one winner. I'm ok with that.

Well, I'm off now. And I'm excited to have stuff to talk about on the next blog post! (I have social plans this week too. Its only minorly lame that I have to plan social interactions, but that's what happens in a PhD. Or so I've been told)

Confused about life as a PhD student? PhD comics gives an accurate and (sadly) funny description of the life I have signed up for. Enjoy perusing!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The night of my last post, it snowed. It REALLY snowed, not just a few flakes here and there. By the time I got back to my room that night, this is what I saw:

That's me in the snow!!!!! (For those who don't know, this is the second time I've ever been in the snow. And the walk back to my place was the longest I've ever been in the snow. Quite exciting for me) :D
So it snowed on Saturday and again, only a little, on Thursday. But the snow is still here, hanging around as ice/slush instead of snow.

I'm really terrible at walking in the snow, but I love it! I'm hoping it snows again so I can build a snowman and have a snowball fight and go sledding and so on. Missed the chance last time.

Besides the snow, not much has happened besides work and basic life. I'd taken a small break from research this past week and went to a bunch of professional seminars. Next week, its back to the research. And I'll be starting two new experiments (and hopefully getting results!!!). It'll be a busy week, but it should be rewarding.

I've also tried a new gym class (circuits) which is intense, but great! OH- And I tried a new recipe for  Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad and it was AMAZING.

Happy early Valentine's Day everyone!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Ok, ok, ok. So I know that I've been bad about keeping this updated. I'm off to a bad start for 2012, but I'll try and get better as the year progresses!
I have been REALLY busy with work. I've finished molecular training and will start my LONG list of molecular experiments in two weeks. The behavioral pharmacology experiments will start in two weeks as well. And the TEM experiment is still going strong; I'll soon be good enough to continue working on my own. The past two weeks have been intense, so this coming week I've signed up for a lot of "Transferable Skills" courses. These are basically professional seminars that offer a wide range of research-based skills. I'm looking forward to getting into the classroom and out of the lab for a little. I haven't even been back a month and I'm already ready for another vacation! Haha
My midyear progress report is coming up on Valentine's Day, so wish me luck! The mid year should be easy, its the year progress report that's more intense. But that's not until June, so I'm avoiding thinking about it until then.
I've been surprisingly good about being social, considering how busy I've been with work! Some highlights- My floor got together for a DELICIOUS potluck two Fridays ago. I brought Zucchini Brownies, but they really ended up as Zucchini Blob. The taste was there, but it didn't cook correctly AT ALL because our ovens are so bad. I will no longer attempt baked goods in this oven. Another highlight was getting reindeer with a few friends. It was SOO delicious. I think I like it more than beef. If you haven't tried reindeer, do it! And lastly, a highlight was going to pub trivia this past Thursday. We got second to last place, but I love a good game of trivia, so I was perfectly happy (it also helped that I had a goats cheese and caramelized red onions grilled cheese with rosemary french fries on the side).
So, Superbowl Sunday. The Pack didn't make it AND the 49ers didn't make it. Boo. BUT! One of the bars on campus will be showing it live, so I'll be going to that (until I'm too tired and need to sleep).
Now, for my whiny Californian complaint. ITS SOOOOO COLD :(. Its literally freezing. LITERALLY. It snowed while I was walking to work, but not enough to pack up on the ground. But it seemed like California after the wildfires with all of the ash in the air. I was quite confused. With it this cold though, it needs to snow. Snow would make it worth being this cold. Although, I can't complain too much during the day because it has been quite sunny!

Talk to you all later, as long as I don't freeze!