Category Archives: Genetics

How to recognize a geek

There are occasions when I wonder if I’m cut out for the life in academia I’ve been planning for the last two years. This usually happens when I’m reading a depressing post by the grad student cum blogger extraordinaire¬†Scicurious, or an experiment isn’t working, or I have a flareup of fibromyalgia, or I despise the subject we’re studying **cough**molecular genetics**cough**. But then something happens to bring me back.

This happened last night. I was insomniating, which happens far too often, and I decided I might as well make the skeleton of my research proposal for my molecular ecology class. I kinda hate doing field work in November, so I’m doing some modeling to try to explain the time-dependency of molecular clocks. (If you can’t understand the linked article, don’t worry; it’s not important.) I was looking over the manuals for the programs I’ll be using and papers of previous attempts (failures all) to explain it. As I read and wrote out a tentative procedure, I had this conversation with myself*:

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I’m going to the mojave this summer!

This is where I'm spending my summer vacation. Bleak, ain't it?

This is where I'm spending my summer vacation. Bleak, ain't it?

As my inaugural post (other than my old Collegian articles) I’m going to gloat a little. I just got accepted to work with one of my biology professors this summer as part of Willamette’s Student Collaborative Research Program (SCRP). SCRP pays professors to take on students as research assistants and students to do research. (I’m getting $4000, plus food and housing stipends, compared with the ~$3000 most other programs give.) My team (Professor Chris Smith, a freshman biology student, and me) are going to be studying two aspects of Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) ecology. We’re going to Tikaboo Valley (which happens to be right next to Area 51) for three months after classes end, and then we’ll spend about a month and a half in the lab. We’ll present our results to everyone at Willamette, and then head down to Gonzaga in November for a conference.

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