Wednesday, September 01, 2004

(Cue Alice Cooper Style Music) School's Back for Fall

School started for me this past Monday. It's been a kinetic blur with everything at the lab and in the class. I got acclimated to not having to go to classes regularly, and now I recall how difficult classes can make it to do quality research.

My situation is better than most of the other 1st year Pharmacology/Toxicology graduate students though. I only have two classes, Mechanisms in Pharmacology & Toxicology (PHM 820) and Molecular Biology (BMB 801). So far I've been digging PHM 820, but it's easy because the professor is one of the better lecturers in the department (Norb Kaminiski). BMB 801 on the other hand... I think this one I'm going to look back and cringe. I'm cringing now!

I'm 25, almost 26 at this point. I've been around the graduate school block once. The way BMB 801 started the professor lectured us about being dilligent in our studies and not having too much fun. She put it much more abruptly than that. Though I can't remember the exact words, they were something like "I've got two children in high school, am a nationally competitive swimmer, and I get my work done, so you can too." I understand why she gave such a stern warning, as there are probably a lot of students in the class that just finished their Bachelor's degree and didn't have to work very hard at it. It just really rubbed me the wrong way. I've heard from a few other people that this person has a reputation for being a bit of a femme fatale, but apparently her husband is even worse (as a lecturer). She's not been bad in terms of lecture quality, thus far. It's early yet though.

She did hand out a review article that I enjoyed reading. It was about RNA interference (RNAi), which is a hot tool right now in molecular biology. The basics of it are small stretchs of RNA can cause longer transcripts of RNA to be degraded, preventing them from making proteins (In the cell DNA is first copied into RNA before RNA is "translated" into a protein). The first publication on RNAi came out in 1999, and I'll wager will result in the Nobel prize for the people who described it. Perhaps I'll try to dig up an example paper from somewhere and write on it. A lot of publications are pretty dry though, so I think I'll have to watch for the right one to come along.


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