12/19/14 – Katie Porter did a fantastic job leading our final RCR session for the year. Our first Christmas party following was a huge success. Thanks to all who participated.
12/12/14 – PI Q&A with Gregg Howe and Sheng Yang He was great. If you didn’t get your questions answered this time, keep adding them to the box and we will get to them next time.
12/5/14 – Dr. Shin-Han Shiu joined our Mug Club (we will be keeping an eye out on Ebay for that mug!). Some highlights from his time with us:
- Challenge: Can you use publicly available data to answer questions you have?
- There are no “negative results” in bioinformatics
- The field of bioinformatics encompasses many fields including computer science, engineering, physics, mathematics, etc
- In order to communicate with bioinformaticians, it is important to be able to “speak their language”
- While MSU is actively working towards development of a bioinformatics department, currently, the best way for PhD students and post docs to get bioinformatics training is:
- Come up with a question
- Gain programming skills (Shin-Han course materials)—Shin-Han recommends Python
- Break problem into smaller components and start writing programs for those small parts
- Find an expert or someone with some experience to consult with as you have questions/difficulties
In summary, becoming computationally competent is challenging but rewarding. It requires time, perseverance, and an environment where you can focus, but Shin-Han promises us it is worth the effort. He says the exhilaration of getting your program to work and watching what would normally take you hours happen in minutes is amazing…I guess we’ll have to test him on this and find out!
11/21/14 – Dr. Beronda Montgomery talked with us about priorities, expectations and balance. Some key thoughts are below:
• Set priorities: this requires self-reflection. Know what you want to do and don’t be afraid to communicate it with others.
• Set expectations for yourself (these should exceed what others expect of you!). Build something you are proud of that meets your definition of success. If the place you work does not agree that what you are doing is valuable, find a place that does.
• Balance is a fallacy! You have to determine what “balance” looks like for you.
• Be proactive. Look for the teaching and service opportunities that best fit you and that you are best equipped to contribute.
• Reject stress! Recognize when you are stressed and make a conscious choice to reject it. Don’t accept things people give you that don’t belong to you (tasks, stress, etc.).
• Saying no is easier if you give a reason why. Saying “yes” doesn’t mean anything if you cannot follow through.
11/14/14 – Phil Colgan in the Day Lab shared his work to develop a hand held biosensor. Here is a brief summary provided by Phil: The goal of the project is to use an extremely sensitive nanoparticle based electrochemical biosensor assay to rapidly detect multiple agricultural plant pathogens on site / in the field. The biosensor assay has been used for detection of some human pathogens so the technology has already been demonstrated in that way. However, it still needs to be streamlined into a handheld device that someone with no knowledge of genetics or bio-sensing can use.
11/06/14 – Bethany Huot led a discussion based on a Career Workshop talk “The New Job Search: Expanding Your Career Opportunities in the Ph.D. Job Market” given by Julia McAnallen from the PhD Career Services at MSU. Together we compiled a list of resources for job hunting and for job/career preparation. Check out the new “The Resources” page to find links for the sites mentioned during The Pub Club. If you find additional resources, feel free to share them by adding a comment on The Whiteboard.
10/24/14 – Using the recent paper by Alberts el al. (2014, PNAS), Marcelo Campos led a discussion on the challenges involved in pursuing a career in science. Of greatest interest to most of us was how we can distinguish ourselves to be more competitive in a discouraging job market. Main advice from our PIs: “If you want to be a PI, start acting like a PI now!”
10/10/14 – Dr. Rob Abramovitch came to share his research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis in humans. This pathogen provokes the human immune system and survives within macrophages, which are designed to kill bacteria. M. tuberculosis can persist within the human host for long periods in a non-active state, making it difficult to fully clear the pathogen. Rob spoke with us about his current research, which focuses on the development of new drugs through increased understanding of how M. tuberculosis adapts to and survives in human macrophages. While his lab is currently focusing on the cell’s ability to detect and respond to pH, they are also looking at reactive oxygen species and carbon sources.
10/3/14 – Sheng Yang shared updates with us from a recent HHMI Investigators meeting.
9/26/14 – John Froehlich came as our first guest speaker to talk to us about the automated Western system purchased by the Center for Advanced Algal and Plant Phenotyping (CAAPP). See the “Methods & Technologies” page under “Resources” for more information.
9/19/14 – Mitch Roth, a PhD student rotating in the Howe lab, and Natalie Vande Pol, a PhD student rotating in the Day lab, introduced themselves and shared about their previous research experiences. Ian Major, a post doc in the Howe lab, explained and discussed the new CRISPR technology.
9/12/14 – Brian St. Aubin and Megan Shiroda, PhD students rotating in the He lab, introduced themselves and shared a bit about their previous research experiences. Mohammad Tanbir Habib, an exchange student from Dusseldorf University currently working in the He lab, also introduced himself and shared about his previous and current research. James Kremer, a current PhD student in the He lab, finished up with some research highlights from the 2014 ISME (International Society for Microbial Ecology) Conference in Seoul, South Korea.
9/5/14 – Brad Day shared his recent participation on a USDA research grant panel. Students & post docs learned how the process on this particular panel worked as well as what types of research were primarily funded.