27 October 2004

Word of the Day

A well-known grad school phrase has now been codified as a draft entry into the Oxford English Dictionary: ABD.

To wit: "All but dissertation, an unofficial qualification recognizing that a student has completed all the work required for the award of a doctorate, except for the dissertation (also Ph.D. (ABD)); (also) a student who has achieved this status."

26 October 2004


Back from the Society for Neuroscience meeting, and am girding myself for the inevitable catch-up process. I took a loaner laptop with me to try to stay caught up, but it did no good at all. Too much stuff, not enough time! (And the hotel charged for internet access.)

More later.

19 October 2004

It's raining ads

A little later this week, I'll be flying to San Diego to attend the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. I know the meeting is coming up, because I have so many people trying to meet with me.

I got no less than twelve "Come visit out booth at Neuroscience" flyers in my mailbox yesterday afternoon. Twelve. And I wasn't counting the ones that came last week. I wonder just how many get sent to the 25,000+ members who will probably attend. Strikes me as an awful use of paper.

17 October 2004

Canadian prairie girl makes good

My latest hero and role model: Atomic Betty. I was watching a recent episode on Cartoon Network, an American cable station. I was surprised when I heard one of the characters mention Edmonton – capital of my home province, Alberta. Then at the end of the story, they showed Betty's school, with a red and white flag with a maple leaf in the center. And once I visited the official website, I learn that Betty's neighborhood is none other than Moose Jaw Heights. And the street she lives on is Maple Lane.

Canadian prairie girl by day, Galactic Guardian -- also by day. Go Betty!

15 October 2004

Aftermath 2, or, "Maybe we aren't screwed"

We met with President Bambi (Blandina) Cardenas today. Most of the people in our department who went there are convinced that we managed to accomplish something. I think the most significant portion of the meeting was when we were discussing teaching assistant (TA) salaries. In most universities, graduate students take up the bulk of teaching assistant positions.

President Bambi asked what we paid TAs, and named a number that was about twice what we pay TAs. She was clearly taken aback when we told her what the actual pay was. And that students were expected to pay tuition out of that, whereas many other universities have some sort of tuition waiver scheme in place for graduate students.

14 October 2004

I've been looking at cleavage today, and I'm very excited by it

By "cleavage," I mean "cell division." I'm running an experiment on the development of ascidian embryos. What did you think I meant?

Lots of promising things have been going on. The ascidian species I was working on last year finally showed up again, about a month later than last year. I was getting so scared that they wouldn't, and my student Anna and I wouldn't be able to complete the experiments we started last year. But they've shown up, we have plenty of animals, and I'm feeling optimistic that we'll be able to pull together the experiments and get a manuscript together in fairly short order.

And I actually had supplies get ordered and arrive promptly for once. The supplies were things necessary to do the experiments I mentioned above. Some of the material arrived packed in dry ice. I never get tired of tossing it into the sink, turning the water on, and watching the fog roll over my lab bench. Also very fun to scoop up the mist in beakers and laugh maniacally. (I mean, you've got what looks like a smoking beaker in your hand, what else are you going to do?)

And I had some promising staining results last week with a new technique I have a student trying.

And two of my students got selected for Howard Hughes Medical Institute undergraduate research fellowships. Only one can officially work with me, but it's a good thing for both of them, and will be a good thing for me.

And I finished a short grant proposal for a new program called SOMAS. My grant paperwork is now making the rounds for institutional approval.

And I'm meeting with our new president, Bambi Cardenas, tomorrow, as part of a representative group from the Biology Department.

And my student Sandra is just about ready to provide me with some final data for my neuroscience poster (if all goes well).

The frustrations I have? One is that my colleague Virginia will be down next weekend, just when I have to leave for the Society for Neuroscience meeting. ANd all of my students who are working on our collaborative projects are also going out of town for things like medical school interviews.

And I have to finish a bunch of marking before going to the Neuroscience meeting.

And I've been waiting a week from someone from the computer helpdesk services to come and type in a password on a class computer so that I can install a simple driver for software.

And there just aren't enough days in the week to get things accomplished.