Sunday, October 3, 2010

Spherical Assumptions

Well, I've completed my second month as a for-real graduate student.
I've finally figured out why I've been uneasy with this whole shebang: I finally am beginning to understand just how stupid I really am. I'm surrounded by really smart people, doing smart things, talking about smart stuff. All the while being defeated during my own projects. There's a vast, vast, wealth of knowledge out there and I can't hope but to chip away at a tiny fraction of it. This, combined with the fact that in undergrad you could actually know everything you needed to know. Sure, biochem was a lot of material, but by the exam you could know all the answers and get an A. Now, (to take a phrase from Derek) It's like trying to drink from a firehose. Simply put, Graduate school makes be feel very dumb.
These last two months have been awfully humbling for me.  Biology has gone from something that I do because I'm good at it, back to the thing that I loved as a small kid--discovering new things, rich and intricate that unite all beings on this planet. That's probably a good transition, though I can only wonder how people that were only 'just good at it' are faring.
Part of what is keeping me in it is seeing people that got through it that probably shouldn't have. I mean, if they can do it---so can I!
Another awkward thing is that we, as grad students, don't really fit in with a crowd except our own. The undergrads are well, undergrads...and drinking with those that you teach and look up to you is quite a bit awkward. And then you don't exactly fit in with the professors either...they're either married and have kids or involved in their own mid 30's life.
So that leaves us grad students together... Except we're all busy as hell. The only real form of camaraderie that we exercise is drinking; let me tell you: grad students can drink. This point has been made to me every Friday thus far. What's worse is the fact that Iowa is a Mecca for beer when compared to a place like Alabama. I've already imbibed more booze during the last two months than I did in all four years of undergrad combined. I don't guess that's saying much...but the liver has taken a pounding since I've been here.

Anyhow.. I'm finally experiencing some level of success! With the help of a collaborator, I've managed to prepare decent nuclear smears to quantify. I've already made 8 slides and counted + measured over 400 nuclei. I was hoping to have some images and flow cytometry data to show off for you, but I'm not in the lab (for once). I'll try to snag a few screenshots on Monday. At this rate, I'll have some sort of conclusion in a few weeks. Past that, I'm going to try and play around with karyotyping some of our snails so that we can confirm their ploidy levels...though that's a whole 'nother beastie.

Well, Maurine is off to Europe and won't be back for two weeks...meaning I'll have a couple less meetings now. It'll be interesting to see the lab dynamics while she's away. It'll also enable me to see Emily when she comes up from 'Bama this Thursday. If only this NSF grant would write itself. And now my Bioinformatics class is starting up. Can't get a break, can I?
Till next time,


Haley Monley said...

Wow, this post brings up a lot of things I would dread about grad school, many of which have been on my mind lately--namely, getting there and realizing I'm the worst writer in the program, and being thrown in again with a smattering of college students. I never get along with people our age. But I guess I can always act all superior to everyone and hang out with my husband.

Have fun with your Emily! It's funny to me 'cause my best friend's name here in Asheville is Emily. Seriously though, go against your nature and chill out for a weekend. :)

thacked said...

I'll spare you the details on how ethanol consumption can inhibit lactate-substrate based gluconeogenesis.