Sunday, October 15, 2006

Graduate School: Month One

The crisping leaves, the plump sparrows, the shortening days, the nippy mornings, my dry lips, my dry eyes-- my new life. It's autumn, and clearly time to reflect.

I'm sitting here in my kitchen drinking some Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Lemonade admixed with Tanqueray Non-Organic Gin. Thus, I find myself neither rolling down any streets nor smoking endo, but indeed sipping [tactfully, always tactfully] on Gin and Juice.

Graduate School is hardly a metaphoric day at the beach.

Was I expecting a day at the beach? Not really. Do I even like beaches? No. Do I get the sense that with each passing day I am prematurely dessicating into a husk of a human being? Sometimes, but not when I'm drinking gin.

Was that a cry for help? Absolutely not.

Cutting through the shit, I'm enjoying myself. I learn new things [nearly] every day, and I have already been thrilled to bits by the toilsome Irony of Science. i'll try to explain:

My current project involes the construction of a chimeric [look it up] form of two proteins found in budding yeast. I am exploiting the very same yeast cells that convert sugar to ethanol in the beer that all those undergrads are able to consume to excess on Thursday nights. Am I bitter? Only a little. The two proteins, called Bni1 and Bnr1 are responsible for assembling the building blocks of the yeast cytoskeleton [skeleton of the cell] into the filaments and cables that give the cell its shape. They both serve the same purpose, but they do it in different parts of the yeast cell with the help of different interacting proteins. My chimeric form of the two proteins will help us to understand how the location of the proteins affects their function, more or less.

To be a good scientist, I have to make sure that all the genetic manipulations I must make to construct the chimera don't somehow alter the natural behavior of the full-length protein in the cell. So you basically perform all the steps involved in making your whacked out chimera, but you rebuild the full length protein.

So guess what parts of the chimera I've been able to make so far? Well, I've cloned the N-terminal region of Bni1 into a vector and I've been able to clone the C-terminal region of Bni1 into the same vector. Yeah. So I've spent 6 weeks deconstructing and reconstructing a protein. While it is an important control I would have had to do anyway, it's still pretty ironic. And kind of hilarious.

In other news, you can add labels to your posts now using the Blogger beta version. For examples of what to label your posts, they have listed:

e.g. scooters, vacation, fall

I hate.


BabsTheBun said...

I remember during one science course Buster and I took at Hampshire the professor used the myth of Sisyphus as a metaphor for science.

I'm not sure which was worse: the implied futility of it all, or the fact that the Hampshire students quabbled over what the "meaning" of the myth (existentialism? self-hatred? Alan Watts-style spiritualism?) for the entire class.
The poor nice-guy professor had a vein popping out of his forehead the whole time.

And then I transferred. Ba-dum Ching.

Anyway, the point of the anecdote was to prove that it could always be worse. Plus, I'll be able to tell everyone I knew the famous Lena Webb back when she was still diddling and un-diddling proteins.

jenovus said...

THIS POST LABELED AS: gin, science, hate