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Post Archive
2020 (0)2010 (15)
December (1)

Geektastic Gifts
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
November (2)October (5)

Sexy Halloween genes
Sunday, October 31, 2010

Choose your favourite project
Monday, October 11, 2010

Pinball history* but what to do next?
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The worst six letter word
Monday, October 4, 2010

How does chemotherapy work?
Monday, October 4, 2010
September (4)

Round Up Sept. 11 to 18
Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gene Screen BC winners
Friday, September 10, 2010

What I wish I knew before...working outside academia
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Canadian hero
Thursday, September 2, 2010
August (3)

Shaping Gender - do you do it?
Friday, August 27, 2010

Where has the time gone?
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let me explain...
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Blogger Profile

genegeek CAN

Hi. I'm genegeek (aka Catherine Anderson). Thanks for stopping by. I realized during my PostDoc that I preferred learning and explaining new results to doing science so I started a non-traditional career of teaching and outreach. I'll be using this space to explore public perception of genetics and other cool molecular biology stuff.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Awesome Stuff
Views: 2333 | Comments: 4
Last by David Manly on Dec 16, 2010, 1:09pm

All I want for Christmas... grants funded and papers published. But if you can't influence that decision, I've compiled a list of fun things you could give me or other geeks in your life.

Cute toys - could try to consider them educational

I love the Giant Microbes - plush dolls in the shape of various microbes. It allows me to say that I gave my husband syphilis for his birthday. I like the idea of the heart warming box featured at ThinkGeek but I don't think I'll give them to the young daughters of the Patience Family

Falling Water Lego and the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright FTW. Now, how to get the waterfall...

Wear your geek with pride!

Beautiful scarves. I love the Matrix version but there are lots of cool patterns with inspiration from cells. The nerve cell version is fun too.

Necklaces and other charms by . . . More
Views: 1813 | Comments: 4
Last by genegeek on Nov 30, 2010, 8:53pm
In case you missed it, there has been lots of discussion about two campaigns to popularize science: Rock Stars of Science and Science Cheerleaders.

First, I have to say that I agree with the efforts to highlight science and scientists. I've been running science outreach programs for a few years now and I know how hard it can be to start new initiatives. My biggest issue is: what is the point? I've included more on these campaigns at the end of this post.

What are they trying to do…

Make science cool? Break down stereotypes?

I know lots of cool scientists who are accomplished outside the lab. They run marathons, travel, play in bands, etc. And my experience with kids (and some adults) is that we need to get more scientists out there! On more than one occasion, kids have been amazed that I'm married - and to a non-scientist! When I explain that I go hiking or go to parties, kids are amazed! I was in a successful rock band too but I get more interest from the kids when they realize that I'm not so special. We can then have a conversation about all the possibilities.

For my outreach projects, I've f . . . More
Views: 452 | Comments: 7
Last by Evie on Nov 04, 2010, 3:44pm
I've joined NaNoWriMo - I'm going to try and write 50,000 words during the month of November. Sadly, I don't think blog posts count. I'm working on a fictionalized account of my travels - the good stories from my early twenties.

So why tell you about it? Well, one of the suggestions from the cheerleaders is to put away your internal editor for the month of November. For those of you who read my blog posts, this probably sounds like a horrible idea.

But it turns out that my internal editor is a tenacious sucker. He won't leave - yep, I picture* a man with a tweed jacket who can give that disappointed look. And he wears clogs. He may also be a gardening vegan...nothing like me.

When you have to write, what do you do about your internal editor? Do you try to craft each sentence as you type it and set up a paralyzing dialogue with that internal editor? Or do you dash off the words and plan to edit later?

*When I was describing my internal editor to my niece in Vancouver, she drew a picture of him and said that he would stay with her in Vancouver where they could have lovely tea parties to discuss the Bernstein Bears and the Paper Bag Princess.

. . . More
Views: 841 | Comments: 4
Last by genegeek on Nov 01, 2010, 11:17am
There was a bit of talk this weekend about sexy costumes. On twitter, people were detailing slutty costumes observed. For example @_modscientist_ tweeted: Why not just be a watermelon? Why a sexy watermelon?

So why do women dress sexy on Halloween? Is it because you won’t get in trouble? Is it easy? Women usually dress for women – for many reasons – and maybe this is the one day to do something that doesn’t have to fit the rules of your regular life. One of my students told me: Halloween is when you are slutty on the outside and Valentine's Day is when you are a slut in private.

Note: I’m getting old because it seems like there are more sexy costumes than before but I think it is just my lens – or access to worldwide info on the internet. For example: slutty cookie monster I continued to rant re: worst walk of shame here.

I tried to look up studies on preference for sexy Halloween costumes…and didn’t find anything. But I found…. HALLOWEEN GENES!

Yes, there is a set of genes stu . . . More
Views: 178 | Comments: 0
The LabSpaces bloggers are part of a DonorsChoose campaign. is an organization that takes helps K to 12 classrooms across the US improve education. Teachers write up a request for needed materials that will make dramatically improve education for their students.

When I heard the description, I thought of the extras = newer instruments or fun field trips. But some classes want chairs or pencil crayons!! Please help out these kids.

One of the good ideas of this campaign is that you can choose which projects to support. For all the science bloggers, HP is going to match donations so your money is worth twice as much!

I've picked a few projects on my giving page (look to the right sidebar for the blue and white widget under 'Awesome Stuff'). I've focused on New York city and science because I'll be in New York for the campaign and science is my background. But if you have suggestions for other classes, please let me know.

If you need more incentive to give, please check out the video on Odyssey's . . . More
Views: 373 | Comments: 13
Last by genegeek on Oct 06, 2010, 11:14pm
*I know that some people were hoping for an interesting review of pinball machines and I'm sorry to disappoint.

So we are all answering the question: What would I do if I wasn't doing my science? Well, I just quit my day job so am figuring out the question for real!

Some would argue that I haven't been doing 'science' for some time now. I teach 'foundations of medicine' at UBC medical school, focusing on genetics but also other parts of biology and clinical skills - and I am still working there. I just quit the job running an outreach program in genetics and it took most of my what to do now?

I'm not that freaked out by the lack of direction in my current situation. I've never followed a straight path and have been lucky to:

travel around the world for a year (and continue to travel to fun places) work as a counsellor for children with special needs and their families work as a paramedic (cool job but I'm too little to meet some of the physical requirements) do a PhD (avoid 'real life' - no, I loved my project) dabble in music industry (got enough exposure to realize that it isn't for me) teach at universities and high schools... (super fun, more at end of post^) . . . More
Views: 596 | Comments: 9
Last by PepGiraffe on Oct 04, 2010, 3:30pm
OK, I don't know where the time is going. I finished up my main job early last week with great hopes of becoming a regular blogger....and the time suck continued.

I did crack some vertebrae last weekend - nothing exciting, slipped at home and landed on the patio door track - so I guess I have to account for some time on the couch. But does daytime TV really suck that much life out of you?

So now that I supposedly don't have a lot to do, I'm trying to take some time and see what I want to do. (There will be more on these thoughts within the next week.) What is becoming obvious is how much stress can be caused by SHOULD.

I have to admit, I'm too selfish for a lot of should in my life but I have another story for you:

I overheard two women in a coffee shop a few days ago. They were discussing if one of them should get married. The conclusion was yes because she had been in the relationship for a while and it was expected. I didn't agree with her reasoning but maybe there are other reasons and she didn't feel like sharing them at that time. But then they moved onto the subject of having children. The other woman was confessing that she didn't know if her marriage was the best but that they were going to try for children because that is the next exp . . . More
Views: 8100 | Comments: 6
Last by JanedeLartigue on Oct 06, 2010, 5:46pm
This post is in honour of 007, the unbeatable secret accountant, who is getting ready to join the Terry Fox Challenge - after she finds out about options for chemo.

I have several friends around the world who are dealing with cancer diagnoses and they have had some general questions about the treatment options. None of them are science experts and instead of writing the same email to everyone, I thought I would try a general post.

Warning: this post is not advice for anyone and it is a general introduction to the topic. I won't try to explain the specifics of any particular drug because that is beyond my level of expertise.

What is chemotherapy? Why take it?

It depends who you ask. Many patients will say, 'poison'. But really, the term means 'drug therapy' although we generally use it in Canada to mean drugs to kill cancer cells. Please note that chemo is used in many diseases but I'll focus on cancer applications as that is where most of the questions have started.

In cancer treatment, chemo is usually offered when there is a concern that there might be tumour cells that were not or can not be removed with surgery or radiation. For ex . . . More
Views: 550 | Comments: 1
Last by biochem belle on Sep 20, 2010, 9:25am
The start of the school year seems to hit harder every year. In case you missed anything, here’s the weekly round up for Sept. 11 to 18.

We did skip a summary for Sept. 5 to 11 because most of the posts were part of a blog carnival of ‘what I wish I knew’ and Biochem Belle kept a great running summary. Brian (Living LabSpaces) also did a post on Facebook for science that generated a lot of comments. Genomic Repairman brought in a guest to talk about the dangers of an easy publication - great idea! I didn’t post during the last week so maybe I should start thinking about this option.

Back to the last week…

Many of the posts dealt with the non-bench aspects of scientific careers
(talks, grants, exams, competition):
Damn Good Technician was getting ready for an upcoming talk and shared the realization of a career milestone. And the talk went . . . More
Views: 365 | Comments: 1
Last by Evie on Sep 11, 2010, 9:53am

The first annual Gene Screen BC film competition is over! We had a successful Screening Gala on Sept. 8th where we showed the top 3 films. All the film makers were enthusiastic, smart, and funny. To see who won, please check out this link. I have it on good authority that photos of the winners will be uploaded soon.

It looks like Gene Screen BC will be an annual event so start thinking of your entry! This year, the first prize was $3500. If you are interested in the competition, please sign up here or leave a comment below. . . . More
Views: 568 | Comments: 2
Last by Tideliar on Sep 09, 2010, 12:09pm
I had trouble with this topic because I don't feel that I'm qualified to give advice. Everyone's experience is different and let's face it, we can be told about something but we always think that we'll be different. A preview of some of the topics considered:

getting older
It's true - you will look back at your body in your twenties or thirties with envy...even if you didn't like it at the time.
One day, you won't be able to shake off an illness - and it will suck
Getting older is still better than the alternative

That got too depressing, so I considered:

cool travel tidbits
Galapagos - I didn't expect the barren lava of the islands or the amount of wildlife in the islands.
Antarctica - penguins really stink. If you are going to go kayaking, you will need less clothes than you think because those dry suits are like personal saunas
Running with the bulls - the bulls want to run in the opposite direction but there are people herding them towards the runners. It is a full week of festival goodness so no banks are open. Plus, the running is a test of manhood so women really shouldn't run (I'm sorry if I offended everyone when I was there)
Inca trail - take an extra day to acclimatize to . . . More
Views: 728 | Comments: 3
Last by genegeek on Sep 03, 2010, 8:26pm
Have you heard of Terry Fox? He is a Canadian hero and 30 years ago today (Sept. 1), he had to stop his Marathon of Hope due to a return of his cancer.

I was 10 when Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope. I had been in hospital a lot and thought it was pretty cool that a sick guy from around Vancouver was out there doing stuff (yeah, that's the kid lens). As I got older, I got a better appreciation for the determination, courage and idealism that he possessed.

“I'm not a dreamer, and I'm not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.” Terry Fox

Terry Fox lost his leg due to osteosarcoma in 1977. Three years later, at the age of 21, he started a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. He ran a marathon every day! He rested (didn't run) on only 4 of 143 days.

Let's think about this - a marathon every day? If I count up my running mileage, I run a marathon every 2 weeks. So, I'm taking up a new challenge and I invite you to join me. I'm going to run at least 6 days per week until I run 1961 miles. Note: may have to have a few walking days until my mileage incre . . . More
Views: 1083 | Comments: 4
Last by yannisguerra on Sep 02, 2010, 7:58am
Recently, Lab Spaces has had some interesting posts about gender roles in science: Lab Mom has some interesting thoughts about her young daughter's experience at science camp and Disgruntled Julie has asked why we push women into the (physical) sciences if they aren't interested? As someone who does a lot of science outreach for teens, I spend some time thinking about these issues. But this post is not really about that (sorry).

How much does society shape genders?
Warning - this is anecdote-based, not a scientific review...

First, the difference between sex and gender. Sex is biology and gender is the attitudes, beliefs, and identity of masculine or feminine. Most of the time these things agree and we often use the words as synonyms. I'm not going to discuss these words anymore but I thought I should add in something 'educational'. If you want more information on sex/gender, check out Separating Gender from Sex.

I know you are wanting th . . . More
Views: 331 | Comments: 2
Last by Evie on Aug 21, 2010, 2:49pm
OK, I know that I haven't been around much and I do apologize. I've been enjoying summer but I also have been busy with lots of work-type things. As the projects hit public consumption, I'll share them with you (unless you tell me to stop).

I'm involved with a genetics and film competition in Vancouver = Gene Screen BC. The films deadline for submission passed on Sunday and all the films are in with the judges. As an organizer, I can't comment on the films. I do have my favourites but I'll let the official judges and the viewers decide on the winners. I can say that I'm impressed by the range in just 12 films. The variety shows different approaches to science communication. There is a blog post in there...

So why am I telling you about the competition? Well, the videos can all be seen here and I'm hoping that some of you will watch the videos and share your opinion through the voting on the site. There is a People's Choice award for $1000 so it is important to get lots of feedback. Plus, the videos have to accurately portray current or near future clinical genetics. If you notice any errors, please . . . More
Views: 571 | Comments: 6
Last by Dr. O on Aug 05, 2010, 12:24pm
Hi. Welcome to Daring Nucleic Adventures or DNA as I'll soon be calling it.
Yes, that's me in the banner photo. I visited Antarctica in Jan 2009 and it was super amazing! I'd like to point out that I'm paddling while my husband sits in front, taking photos. Back to my explanation...

Why those words?
Nucleic - Well, that's easy. I'm a genegeek and will talk about all things DNA and molecular biology.
Adventures - It is an adventure to explore something new. I've like to challenge myself and putting myself out into the blog world is a bit scary.
Daring - This needs the most explanation, I think. First, Discuss didn't have the right feel and Daffy was just wrong. Second, many people describe me as daring: some because I don't have a life plan (horrors) and others because I like travel and adrenaline sports. I don't think I'm daring and need to point out that things are a lot easier than they appear. It doesn't take a lot of skill to run with the bulls in Pamplona or learn to white water kayak in the Himalayas. I'm hoping that blogging will be the same and jumping off this cliff will give a similar rush.

Why am I here?
I hope to add to the great discussions re: new science discover . . . More