School

Graduation

I moved to Kansas City almost two weeks ago, but my graduation from Missouri State was on Friday. I was blessed that a lot of my family was able to come for it!

Here are some pictures from graduation day.

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This is my lovely friend Michelle. She began as my labmate and became one of my best friends. I am so thankful that The Lord placed her in my life. My experience at MSU would not have been what it was without her. I already miss seeing her everyday! Next she’s off to get her Ph.D. at Mizzou!

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Brad’s dad Danny managed to snap this picture right before it started to rain after graduation was over.

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Luckily we took pictures ahead of time!

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Michelle and I were fortunate to have a great adviser. I’m so thankful for how much he invested in me to make sure my time at MSU was successful.

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We love our hoods!! My favorite thing about it is that it is Gryffindor colors.

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One of my proudest accomplishments at MSU was winning the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award. Even better, I got to share the honor with Michelle! We’re both such great TA’s they just couldn’t choose between us. Just kidding. But seriously.

But seriously, it was really nice to be recognized for the effort I put into my TA duties. I sure am going to miss teaching.

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Both of my grandmas got to come to graduation!

My dad’s mom (left) came in from California earlier last week. It’s been really nice to spend quality time with her since I don’t get to see her very often.

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True story: I immediately spotted my family when I walked into graduation because I was able to spot Dylan. He stands out in a crowd.

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Me and my parents. They’re great.

After graduation my family headed back to Raymore and Brad and I stayed in Springfield for the weekend. It was really great to spend time with some of our friends in southwest Missouri before we left it for good. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures, so we’re going to jump to Sunday night.

After we got back to Kansas City on Sunday, we went to Bucca di Beppo on the plaza for my graduation celebration.

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This picture is blurry, but I had to take it quick because my grandmas were being so cute. I love that they’ve made a friendship over all these years since they’ve been sharing grandchildren.

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Luckily Bucca di Beppo has a great place for photo ops right outside of it. Here’s me and my mom.

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The whole fam.

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Everyone that came!! I felt so blessed being surrounding by these family and friends.

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And I saved the prettiest for last! Me and my best friend Casie FINALLY live in the same town again. PTL!

In other news…. Brad and I put in a deposit on an apartment today! More details coming soon!!

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My first scientific publication

I am super excited to share that an article that I wrote has been published in a scientific journal! I am elated that all of my hard work over the last year and a half is coming to fruition in these last couple of months of grad school.

First, let me tell you a little about how publishing works in the science world for those of you who are unfamiliar with the process. There are many scientific journals of all types of disciplines that accept and publish articles in print (they are called journals, although they look more like magazines) and also online. You are probably familiar with the scientific journals Nature and Science, but there are hundreds of others! Many journals are very general and accept a wide variety of topics, while other are more specific, like the journal Traffic publishes articles about trafficking in the cell.

In these journals you can find two types of articles: primary research articles and review articles. A primary research article contains results from a scientific study. There is an introduction section, a results section with figures and tables, and a discussion section. Primary research articles are most of what you will find in a journal. A review is a little different. A review is exactly what it sounds like. A review gives a summary or overview of the primary research of a particular topic. Reviews are extremely helpful to read because they compile all the research done on a topic, simplify it, summarize it, put together the big picture, discuss what this could mean, and propose new ideas.

I have written a review article on my area of research. I am also in the process of putting together a primary research article that will be submitted for publication within the next couple of weeks. (I’ll let you know when it’s officially published!)

Writing a review has been extremely challenging, time consuming, helpful, fun, and rewarding. It has required reading about 100 journal articles, hours of editing with my adviser, and drawing about a million diagrams trying to put together all of the pathways involving my subject. It has helped me become an expert on my topic and I truly understand the big picture of my project. Also, my technical writing skills have improved ten fold.

I would LOVE it if you read my article! It is called “Insight into Tor2, a budding yeast microdomain protein” and it is published in the European Journal of Cell Biology. You can read it by clicking here and downloading the PDF. Unfortunately, most people will not be able to access it at this time, but if you are using the wifi of any university you should be able to download it because that university probably pays for access to the journal. (If you’re familiar with PubMed, you can find it there by searching for Tor2) If you can’t get to the PDF and you want to read it, just let me know and I’ll email it to you!!

Tor2 Publication

I’m now in the process of writing my next publication and my thesis. I have a lot of work to do before May, but I am also so close to being done! Graduation here I come!

Blessings

It’s November, which means my Facebook newsfeed has been cluttered with thankful statuses. I haven’t joined this trend, but tonight I’ve been reflecting on some of the blessings the Lord has provided for me over the past year and a half.

A couple of hours ago I got an email from the Dean of Biology Graduate department informing me that I had been selected for this year’s Distinguished TA Award for the Biology department. I was hoping to win and to be honest I knew I had a pretty good chance, but I was still very surprised and honored to be recognized by the department.

This got me thinking about my time at MSU and honestly I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot, gotten to travel to several conferences, experienced the joy of teaching, and I’ve made some wonderful friends. Tonight I am overwhelmed by the blessing that being a grad student at MSU has been in my life.

Furthermore, MSU brought us to Springfield, which brought us to Freshwater Springfield, which has been a whole other blessing in itself.

Two years ago I had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated from SBU. But the Lord is sovereign, and He led us here. Sometimes I succumb to my flesh and I fear the future and the fact that I do not know what it holds. But God constantly reminds me that He is in control, and He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love and power and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

God is good. Tonight I am thankful for His faithfulness.

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One Year of Grad School: The Good

Okay so I know it kind of sounded like I’ve had a terrible time in grad school in my last post, but the truth is it has been a really great experience. Let’s be honest, I love school. I’m considering staying in school forever (see #5 of my last post).

Grad school is seriously awesome.

1. My advisor is actually really great. I know I sort of ragged on my advisor in my last post, but although he does control my life, he has been a wonderful mentor this year and I’m so thankful that I ended up in his lab. He has challenged me in so many ways and guided me towards being a great researcher and technical writer. I may be biased, but I think Kim lab is one of the best labs to work in at MSU. There are a lot of great advisors out there, and there are a lot of not-so-great advisors. I’m really blessed that the Lord brought me to Kim lab. (Michelle- Kim lab is always on fire!)

2. I have a flexible schedule. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I complained about how I get no breaks and have to be in the lab all the time, but my schedule can still be flexible. I don’t actually punch a time-clock, so I can meet someone for lunch or leave early for a doctor’s appointment without any hassle. Plus, I don’t have to be at school until 9, which rocks. All my teacher friends out there have to get up at the crack of dawn, while I still sleep until 8. I’m going to be in trouble when I have to get a real job with a real schedule.

3. I’m getting paid to get my master’s degree. Yes I wish my stipend was a little more, but let’s face it: I’m getting paid to go to school. How awesome is that? I’m going to leave MSU debt free with money in my pocket. The only thing I’ve had to pay for is my parking pass and a discounted gym membership, which was still way cheaper than if I was paying for another gym.

4. Lab-mates are my lifeline. One of the best things about grad school has been the people I’ve worked with. I wouldn’t enjoy the lab nearly as much if I didn’t like my lab-mates. I’ve been so lucky to work with Brandon, Josh, Aria, and Katie. In particular, my lab-mate Michelle has become one of my best friends. She has been such a blessing to my life and I’m so thankful for her friendship. If I have gained anything from my year at MSU, it has been a life-long friend.

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6. The tables have turned: I’m the teacher now. Muuuaahahahaha. But seriously, I love teaching. I taught BIO 121, the intro biology lab for science majors, for the last year. I taught 5 sections and have had over 100 students! I loved teaching this class. It was really fun to get students excited about college and their major. This year, I am teaching cell biology lab. I was sad to leave BIO 121, but cell bio is a great opportunity. It’s an upper level class, so we get to do more technical labs and concepts. In addition to my regular teaching schedule, I have been assigned to teach a class of all chinese students this semester. It’s a new special program and they arrive in a couple of weeks. We currently don’t know their level of english-speaking ability, so that will be a challenge to say the least. Guess I should start working on my chinese.

7. I get to work out at a sweet new gym I didn’t have to pay student fees for. I like the gym at SBU, but it’s pretty lame compared to the gym at MSU. (Although neither come close to Mizzou’s fitness center.) MSU increased student fees years ago to build the new fitness center. I was lucky enough to come in the year that it opened having never paid the student fees to build it. #score

8. I get to do science all day. Grad school has really grown my love for science. I’ve always loved science, but it’s become much more real to me now that I’ve experienced it hands-on. Getting my master’s has been about researching the unknown and coming up with new ideas, while undergrad was about stuffing as much information into my head as possible. God has put a passion for biology in me, and I’m excited to see where He leads me in the next year.

Grad school has had its ups and downs, but I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m so blessed to be where I am, but I’m also anxious for the next step. The Lord is so faithful to provide just what I need, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what He has next for Brad and me. But for the coming months, I’ll by busy finishing up loose ends in my research, editing and submitting my review, writing my research publication, and completing my thesis (I’m up to 30 pages!).

One Year of Grad School: The Bad

I’ve been in graduate school at Missouri State University studying cell biology for a little over a year now. As I reflect on the past year, I realize that I have made new friends, learned a lot, improved my reading and writing skills, and gained a whole new passion for science. I’ve really enjoyed this year, but it has definitely come with its challenges. In honor of one year down, 8 months to go, I’m going to do two posts about the best and the worst of grad school. I’ve decided to talk about the bad first.

Grad school can seriously be the worst.

1. Your advisor owns your life. My advisor has complete control of my life. It’s Labor Day weekend and I’ve already been to the lab twice. (Today (Labor Day), my advisor happened to show up at the lab the same time as me. Part of me has a feeling he only came in to see if I would actually come in and prepare the cell biology lab we teach together tomorrow.) Whatever hoop he provides, I have to jump through without question. My livelihood as a grad student and future as a scientist depends on him. Therefore, what he says, goes.

2. You work at least 40 hours a week for a meager TA stipend. My advisor requires (see #1) I be at school from at least 9 to 5 Monday through Friday day, I rarely take longer than a 15 minute lunch break, and I come into the lab almost every weekend. There is no summer or spring break and Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks are abbreviated versions of what undergrads enjoy. I know, that’s what real-life is. Real life is having a 9 to 5 job and only getting off a few days around holidays. I just wish I got paid a little more for all the work I put in. Sigh. Someday, someday.

3. You have to listen interestedly to whatever the professors want to talk (or rant/complain) about. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten caught in the hallway and ended up in a 20-minute conversation about some bacteria I’ve never heard of. Grad students are perfect victims for chatty professors because they usually see undergrads as incompetent, while other professors have better things to do with their time. Of course I often have better things to do with my time, but I am a lowly grad student, so I stay, nod politely, and agree with whatever they say. I tell myself that this will someday pay off when a professor hooks me up with a sweet job.

4. So much for reading for fun. Journal articles are your life now. As an undergrad, you do a lot of studying, which most often includes reading. This reading is usually from a textbook. The life as a grad student doing biological research is a whole other world. I haven’t opened a textbook once in the past year, but I have spent hours and hours reading journal articles. What are journal articles? Here is an example. They are usually long and confusing, but they are the whole point of doing research. (I plan to do a post about journal articles when I publish my own later this year.) Burying yourself in stacks of journal articles is an essential part to understanding your topic of research and creating a thesis. Fortunately, better reading, critical thinking, and writing skills have been a result of all this reading.

5. Always being asked: So what are you going to do after grad school? Versions of this question began in high school and have haunted me ever since. And it just keeps getting worse. Especially with grad school. Because you’re supposed to have it figured out by the time your 23, right? For those of you who are wondering the answer to this evil question, I’m not sure. My curse in life is that I want to be all the things. Currently, I am cycling through wanting to be a biotechnology lab tech, research lab tech, doctor, optometrist, professor, high school teacher and professional crochet-er. Maybe I’ll get to be all of these things at some point. Probably not, but I can try.

6. No summer break. I know I already kind of talked about this in #2, but seriously its so depressing. What’s the point of still being in college if you don’t get a summer break??? Furthermore, you make so little money that you can’t go on vacation anyway because you are too broke. This is the least tan I have ever been at the end of summer, and I take a lot of pride in how easily I tan (yeah, I’m vain about something people can’t even control about themselves). I wore my swim suit once while at kids camp with Freshwater Kids for about 45 minutes. Plus, it was a one-piece, so my stomach has never seen the sun this summer. I knowwwwww, real life, blah blah blah. I miss having a summer break, okay. Doesn’t everyone?

Wow that was a lot of complaining. I normally don’t like to complain. Let’s just say that I’m telling it how it is. That sounds better than a whole post devoted to complaining.

Don’t worry, grad school has actually been really great. There are many more great things about grad school than sucky things. Stick around for why grad school is the best.

A good portion of the pictures on my phone are science-related. Here are a few:

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Office Space

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This is my office. Okay so it’s not much of an office… I wouldn’t even classify it as a cubicle. It’s more like a tiny desk in a very long and narrow room in which the heat and air conditioning don’t work, so it’s either freezing or steaming depending on the weather.

I’ve got all the essentials for a graduate student/teaching assistant: water bottle, coffee thermos, a stack of papers to grade, a stack of journal articles to read, kleenexes, a coffee cup full of writing utensils, my Bible, a stuffed animal duck, a seashell, my schedule, pictures of my best friends, encouragement from the Word, and a blanket. Just to name a few.

It’s not much, but it’s mine and I love it. There are big windows and there are always other grad students around to complain about our students with. (Plus it’s a great place to hide from my advisor and blog instead of doing research.)

(Notice the desk to the right of mine. You know how most places have a junk drawer? The grad students’ office has a junk desk.)