I’ve been doing science at home.

In addition to working from home recently due to a great deal of writing I need to accomplish in the next couple of months (manuscript, fellowship applications, preliminary exam prep, etc.), I’ve also been doing science experiments in my kitchen.

For the past month or so I’ve been developing a fermenting hobby – starting with kombucha. For me, kombucha was an acquired taste and ginger-lemon is still the only flavor I really like. And I really like it. Unfortunately it’s not cheap enough to drink it every day. On a graduate student budget, I try to prioritize other things first. That’s part of the reason I decided to get into fermenting, the other being that I just really enjoy working in the kitchen.

Store-bought: $3 / bottle
Homemade: $3 / 3-4 gallons

General Timeline
Note 1: our apartment has been around 68 C during the day due to some extreme cold weather. This resulted in increased fermentation time. 
Note 2: I’m pretty paranoid about kahm yeast (or other) contamination so all of the passaging and bottling was done under our range vent with one of the gas burners on. This is probably overkill, but hey why not?

  1. First SCOBY from bottle of plain, store-bought kombucha – 3-4 weeks
  2. First passage from 2 cups of original, well-fermented kombucha – 2 weeks. This was then bottled and passaged.
  3. Second ferment (carbonation) – 3 days at room temperature.
    1. 1/2 tsp added sugar
    2. 1 tbsp squeezed lemon juice
    3. 3/4 tbsp chopped ginger

I’m currently enjoying the first bottle as I’m typing this and I’m really enjoying it. I probably could have let the second ferment go another day because I like the extra carbonation and vinegar flavor, but we were out of town and I didn’t want an explosion on our hands while we were away. I had a friend come in a refrigerate the bottles. Overall, the kombucha took up the lemon and ginger flavors very well!


Science Saturday feat. the Carbone Cancer Center at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

About a week and a half ago I had the pleasure to join fellow researchers associated with the Carbone Cancer Center at Science Saturday – the monthly outreach event hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the Morgridge Institute for Research. Myself and two other members of my lab helped kids perform a DNA extraction as a hands-on way to teach them about the importance of DNA in human health. In doing this, I learned that strawberries are actually typically octaploid. Instead of having two copies of their genome, like us diploid humans, strawberries actually have 8!

For those that were interested in learning more – we talked more specifically about our research on aneuploidy and chromosomal instability. I have to say, having the opportunity to interact with the public and getting engaging questions about what we do was fantastic and humbling (in cases where my science communication skills were not up to the task). The experience definitely allowed me to develop new methods to communicate my research to a general audience and get the younger generation excited about science!

We are living in a fever dream

About a week delayed, however last Monday President Donald Trump, in a step toward establishing a ‘Space Force’ used a segregation-era phrase. In the unlikely event that this new, sixth branch of the U.S. military actually comes to fruition, the story of its founding will be etched in history using the same vocabulary that summarized Jim Crow legislation. While the idea of the existence of a galactic military may appeal to the my Sci-Fi nerd side – and ignoring its possible Non-Fi ramifications  –  this is hardly the illustrious and inspirational speech I would have hoped for. Life is weird sometimes.

 

trm

 

Reference:

Brice, Makini. “Trump Orders Creation of Space-Focused U.S. Military Branch.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 18 June 2018, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-moon/trump-orders-creation-of-space-focused-u-s-military-branch-idUSKBN1JE249.

Word of the Day: Tsundoku

I learned an interesting word today: Tsundoku (積ん読). It’s a Japanese word that describes the phenomenon for letting reading materials accumulate without being read. I daresay this word perfectly describes my life. This used to be books. Any book. Fantasy, science fiction, philosophy, textbooks – you name it. I wanted it. Borrowing from Mitch Hedberg – I still do, but I used to too. Recently, however, this has manifested in my life as my inability to control the number of research journal articles I save to my Mendeley list. Please send help.

Mendeley

 

 

Update on Blog and Life

Greetings from the future!

It’s been some time since I’ve posted anything here. Truthfully – life has been moving quickly. Since my last post I’ve done the following things:

  1. Accepted a position at UW-Madison to pursue my PhD
  2. Went on a cross country road trip
  3. Proposed to my much better half, Erin
  4. Moved to Madison, Wisconsin
  5. Adopted an adorable and impish little rat terrier named Sass
  6. Joined a thesis lab

I know 6 months is a pretty long time, but having all of that going on made it fly by in a heartbeat. Now that life is starting to settle (as much as it does for a graduate student), I decided it would be a good idea to update this blog and change up the format.

This will still be a place for me to write about current science, science history, etc… But I have decided to put more of a personal spin on things. I would like for this to be a place to write, as a graduate student, about grad school lifestyle. I also might toss in some random tidbits from my personal life too (i.e. camping, hiking, books I’m reading, etc.). Why not?

Here’s a picture of my daughter, Sass.

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Guest Blog – Interplay of the Microbiome and Colorectal Cancer

I recently wrote an article for the the Biochemistry Society’s online publication, The BiochemistIn it, I highlight some recently discovered mechanisms by which the human intestinal microbiome, or the ecosystem of bacteria that reside within our gut, play a role in influencing colorectal cancer progression. Find it here.

Give their blog a follow. The topics that are discussed concern news and opinions in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Scientific Communication: In The Eye Of The Beholder

Not much of a post today. I just wanted to share two videos I found recently that highlight the ways in which a couple of scientists tailor their explanations of high-level topics to the needs of their audience – a skill that is fundamental for effective scientific communication.

Enjoy!