Nothing to (formalde)Hyde! – Week 3 Update

After three long weeks, this week we finally had some fresh eggs to dissect. My lab partner and I have been doing dissections for a few months so we are pretty good at clean, fast dissections and hadn’t gotten too rusty in our time away. We added the embryos we dissected this week to the freezer where they can sit until we are ready to do RNA extraction from them.

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End of Week III update

This week proceeded much more slowly than I had hoped. Nevertheless, it proved to be as productive  as I had imagined it to be. This week, I turned a critical eye to the papers I had previously found. These papers proved to be quite useful in helping me to craft a more coherent proposal for a methods section of my research project. In one part of the project, I suggested modifying the methods of a study that teaches the action potential through an instructive game. This game broke the action potential  process into two distinctive proponents: the membrane potential and propagation

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Week 2 update

Last week in lab I worked on preforming a Qiagen DNA extraction with a variety of Mimulus. The protocol itself takes about 3 hours to complete and turns plant cells into isolated plant DNA soaking in a buffer. The DNA can then be sent to another lab to be sequenced and the sequence is sent back to our lab so we can analyze how similar it is to other Mimulus plants. First I take 100 grams of leaves from the plant I want the DNA from and add liquid nitrogen. Because the liquid nitrogen is so cold, the plant leaves immediately freeze and I can grind them up into a fine powder. This disrupts the structure of the plant cells and allows any buffers I add to reach all the cells, instead of having them so tightly packed in the leaf. I then add buffers that break open the cell walls to allow all the cell organelles to swim together in one solution. I pass the solution through a variety to filters using a centrifuge until only the DNA remains in the solution.

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Week 4: Lessons from Laos

After living in Laos for four weeks, here are 25 things I’ve learned:

  1. Bo Pen Yang: The saying has permeated all aspects of Lao culture. In short, it’s the Lao version of Swahili’s Hakuna Matata. But it’s so much more than that. It’s how you say “you’re welcome,” it’s how to say “no worries.” It’s a positive affirmation that everything will work out and a way of expressing gratitude.
  2. Vientiane has the best cafe culture (surprisingly somehow bigger than Salamanca, where I lived in Spain; albeit this is a counterculture)
  3. Sticky rice can be paired with everything
  4. “Gin kaow” figuratively means get food but literally translates to eat rice, see lesson number 3, rice is life
  5. If you wear your sinh incorrectly, people will go out their way to fix it
  6. Wat spotting is a great game to play while walking/biking/riding in the back of a tuk tuk; they’re gorgeous and in every neighborhood
  7. Home remedies sometimes work (key word: sometimes)
  8. Overnight buses have beds
  9. The word falang, embrace it
  10. Chinese investment is oh so visible
  11. The difference between water buffalos and cows
  12. Office Karaoke is phenomenal
  13. Tonal languages can be terrifying
  14. When in doubt, say saibaidee- it means hello, healthy, and good (and is used multiple times in every conversation)
  15. Yes, it is possible to sweat this much, apparently
  16. The government is visibly different, more thoughts on this later (as in, more thoughts in mid-August when I arrive home)
  17. Chopsticks are difficult to use (I would rate this as a lesson I am in the progress of learning)
  18. Beerlao has its’ own culture. By the end of the summer I hope to be able to explain it but it’s impossible to comprehend the scale and importance of Beerlao. It’s all anyone drinks, the company sponsors every restaurant sign, table cloth, everything. You can’t walk five feet without seeing a reference to the drink.
  19. Buddhism seems to be more of a cultural phenomenon than a religion in a way, will investigate more and have more thoughts on this later
  20. Western food is out there if you know where to look, for instance: Soul Kitchen / Pizza Company has pizza, Comma Coffee has pancakes, Annabelle has good bread, Starbooks has pancakes too, Joma has bagels, and crepes are sometimes in the street market (I recognize these sound like small things but omg they mean the world)
  21. People will constantly be surprised if a falang knows Lao (ok this hasn’t really happened to me yet because my Lao needs a lot of work but I see this happening with my friend Christina who is fluent); why is the expectation that they should know some English when I am a visitor here? Shouldn’t I be the one adapting? (the answer is yes, but why is this not the expectation?)
  22. People constantly take pictures of my co-fellows and I / with us. How does one react / how should one act? Is it best to make light of the situation, silently go along with it, or just not respond? I guess this is a half lesson because I don’t have an answer
  23. Traffic laws are suggestions: people constantly run red lights, don’t alternate at “stop” signs, cross roads randomly, and go the wrong way down one way streets. However, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean that I, as a non-motored cyclist, should do it.
  24. VFI has introduced me to mak mao juice (we love sustainably & ethically produced goods that support local communities!) and I think I need my own supply back in the US
  25. The time difference is hard (I miss you friends and family)