Saturday, June 9, 2012

This lab is your lab, this lab is my lab..

For some inexplicable reason, my creative juices get flowing whenever an exam is near.. Wrote this up today in lab :)

This lab is your lab, this lab is my lab
From HSC to CNRCS labs (buildings at my uni where labs are housed)
From evolution to structural biology
This lab was made for you and me

I ran some protein gels, I ran a PCR
I made some cultures, played with some NMR
Mated some fruit flies, ligated DNA
This lab was made for you and me

Has friendly technicians and grumpy post docs
Strict lab managers and eager post bacs
My lovely fellow grads and the best PI
This lab was made for you and me

A morning caffeine fix and mid-morning crispy snacks
Late afternoon lunches and midnight snack attacks
With Ramen dinners to keep me going
This lab was made for you and me

The data’s growing, DNA bands glowing
At weekly lab meetings, the words are flowing
When boss is happy, heave a sigh of relief
This lab was made for you and me.

This lab is your lab, this lab is my lab
From HSC to CNRCS labs
From evolution to structural biology
This lab was made for you and me

To be sung to the tune of 'This land is your land, this land is my land..'

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm back!

Last night, I realized with a sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach that this blog contained several poems that I hadn't written down anywhere else. This morning, after several frantic (completely unnecessary) Google searches and one simple action, I was able to recover my blog. As I looked at the familiar template and read through my old poems and posts, I realized that I loved this blog too much to give it up.. Just like I love my beloved too much to give him up.. We have fought in the past and 'broken up' but neither one of us has been able to last more than a night without talking to the other. What is this bond that binds us, my beloved and I? It is a bond that makes us call each other at exactly the same time, so that we often reach each other's voice mail. This happens too many times to be considered a co incidence. It is a bond which makes one anxious if the other is in trouble and makes us think like crazy about things that will make the other's life easier. In chemical terms, the bond between my beloved and I and this blog and I, is a covalent bond.. There is sharing and caring.. Strong attraction and a little bit of repulsion.. Which ultimately balance each other out and achieve- perfect equilibrium.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's been a while..

.. would be an understatement.. I have been caught up in the general business of settling down, finding my feet, gaining a foothold and such.. The last time I posted, I had been trying to choose the lab I would be rotating in. I have since completed two rotations and am doing a third. The rotation reports however, are yet to be completed.

The first rotation was a great experience.. The people in the lab are great and I got along with almost everyone. There are three grad students- one of them, a girl who is a year ahead of me in the grad program and who is now my BFF. Let's call her Smiles. The other two have been here for six and seven years each. Let's call them Pretty Boy (PB) and Pain. As you may have guessed, it's Pain I cannot get along with. He is an eccentric, egoistic, misogynist and to top it all off, is a huge gossip. Then there are three research associates. One of them is an adjunct and since he's stayed in Britain for a number of years, his name will be Brit. One is Canadian and will be called Can. He is another person in the group I haven't been able to build a rapport with. I guess it's because of his truly whacky sense of humor, which I don't always get. The third is a serious blessing and I consider him my mentor though I haven't told him so. Let's call him Mr.+ve since he is always so enthusiastic and optimistic. Then, we have a Chinese lab manager, Big guy. Nothing in the lab would get done if he wasn't there. Finally, the Boss man, a great guy, extremely caring and approachable, a genius and a visionary but unfortunately does not worry about the pace at which his projects are progressing.

The second rotation was a bit of a shock for me at first. People were not as talkative as the those in the first lab but then again, English was a second language for all of them and they were not very good at it. That was probably the reason why they didn't talk as much. However, this lab was one where I received the most guidance and appreciation for effort and/ or long hours invested, a very rare thing in this Ph.D. business. The female boss is extremely strict and has extremely high standards for work but like I said her level of involvement in the projects going on in her labs and her guidance were invaluable to me. There are two post docs, one Korean, the other Japanese, both very sparse with their words but extremely helpful and truly nice people. And finally, there is a senior graduate student. And that was it.. A small lab, cozy, nurturing atmosphere where things get done extremely efficiently. I am extremely satisfied with the amount of work I got done there in three months.

'If the lab was so fantastic, why would you leave it to do yet another rotation?', you ask. Aah.. The carrot that was dangled in front of this donkey looked so delicious.. But the story of the third lab and my rotation in it deserves a separate post me thinks..

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Decisions.. decisions..

Now that I have finally gotten into a graduate program, the next order of business is to find labs to rotate in.. Easier said then done.. First of all, my university allows only two rotations as opposed to three at other universities and I have already been assigned the lab in which I'll be doing my second rotation since the department is short of funds and this PI has offered to pay for my RAship in the summer.. There are two other labs that I'm interested in but although I am allowed a third rotation if I am unable to decide at the end of two, I don't think I will be supported with assistantships during the third one. All three labs deal with structural biology but one of them uses purely computational methods. The ideal thing to do would be to rotate in the lab which uses only computational techniques for one rota and choose one of the other two for the second.. But here lies the problem. The people that I have spoken to so far keep telling me not to be obligated to join the lab of the PI who's paying my stipend just because the PI is doing so and I feel like they are trying to give me a hint about something but how do I find out better what they are trying to tell me? The obvious answer is- ask the people working in that lab but the primitive department website does not provide the e-mail IDs of any of the students and it's really hard to actually find people and talk to them since everyone is usually busy in their labs. A mixer had been planned by the graduate student society here last week, which would have been a great way to get to know people but it was cancelled because of bad weather and hasn't been re- scheduled yet as far as I know..

In all, it seems like my department and university have gone out of their to make it hard for graduate students to communicate with each other.. A situation that could easily be remedied simply by giving students each other's e-mail IDs..

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Too much has happened.. the one week that I've been in the US. Yes, it's been that long and no, I can't believe it either.. The first couple of days were spent in running around, getting all the bureaucratic stuff done.. Registration, trips to the International student office, to HR etc.. Then, the bone chilling cold set in and I was paralyzed.. The blizzard that swept the whole of mid west brought the temperatures down in this town to the 40s.. But the sun did come out today and I've had a nice day.. Since so much has happened and it would be tough for me to get into details and document it all, let me just list some of the new experiences I've had and some new things I've learnt.. Because at the end of evreything, it's what you have learnt that counts..

1. On the 1st day, it took me half an hour to get to my building. I've now discovered short cuts and it takes me five minutes.
2. I've learnt the routes of the uni shuttle but I don't really need them 'cos of 1.
3. I've become acquainted with people who are willing to take me grocery shopping when I need to, which is very important since I don't have a car and have to rely on people who do.
4. I've learnt how to credit money to my student ID card and don't have to carry cash around and be afraid of being mugged anymore.
5. I've learnt to buy food at stores and to operate vending machines.
6. I've learnt how to do my laundry.

So, basically, I have learnt how to survive, how to be independent and for the first time in my life, to exist without having someone take care of me all the time. It is a heady and scary feeling all at the same time. I know I will make mistakes and fall but I also know I shall pick myself up and dust myself off.. because I have to and because there will be no one to pick me up. I do wish I wasn't all alone and my beloved was here with me but I'll have to wait another three months before I know if he'll be joining me. In all, it's going to be one hell of an adventure and no matter what happens, I'll always have the satisfaction of being a pioneer.. The first in my family to do a PhD and the first to study abroad.. Well, here's to good beginnings and better continuations..

Image from here.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Although I have been in the US for only two days, so much has happened that it feels like ages and my half dazed, jet lagged state in the evenings is no help either. I cannot be grateful enough for the fact that my bro stays in a city that's only about a 3 and a half hours drive away from my University. What would I have done all by myself in a foreign land where so many things are unknown to me if here were not here? The idea scares me.. but the Arien in me whispers.. I would have been OK.. it would've been tough but not impossible.. Those who have no one looking out for them have God looking out for them..

There must be so many international students who arrive in the US without having anyone in the country.. Feeling much more lost and confused than I'm feeling.. I would like to help them.. Maybe the next semester, when I have settled in and have begun to grow roots, I can help them begin to grow theirs..

Image from here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Short post.. Big news..

I finally have my visa.. My tickets are booked and I fly to USA today :)

Image from here.