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Post Archive
2019 (0)2011 (6)
July (1)

Why Are People Touching Me?
Sunday, July 10, 2011
June (1)

Silent No More: I am BACK!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
March (2)February (2)

Infinity and Tattoos
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Need More Than Our Science
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
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Alchemystress
Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

is a graduate student working on her PhD in Chemistry(and quite possibly soon switching to chemical engineering). She works on instrumentation(building and application), biotech, microfab,nanotech, nanoparticles, drug delivery, cancer research, medical engineering(med instrumentation, better contrast agents, faux tissues etc)

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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Recent Comments
Comment by Alchemystress in Why Are People Touching Me?

@sci thats teh worst when you don't know its about to happen and then just touching ug you poor thing... your post made me think about all my past experiences so much and finding its common Read More
Jul 12, 2011, 1:51pm
Comment by SciencingSara in Why Are People Touching Me?

Like Scicurious, my tattoo is on my back so I can't see them coming.  It drives me nuts.  I have some vines on my upper back that peak out of the top of certain shirt collars and people will walk. . .Read More
Jul 12, 2011, 9:29am
Comment by JaniceF in Why Are People Touching Me?

Wow!  I can't believe that this happens to you.  People are so rude.  If that were me my gut reaction would be to call out, "Help! I'm being assaulted!" That would make them feel bad and it woul. . .Read More
Jul 11, 2011, 8:37pm
Comment by 27 and a PhD in Why Are People Touching Me?

Dude? Seriously? WTF? That's just so wrong, on so many levels. My tat is in a place where only I decide who can see it, and touch it, but even if it was at a visbible place, that gives no one, not . . .Read More
Jul 11, 2011, 7:35pm
Comment by Dr. Girlfriend in Why Are People Touching Me?

When my baby nephew did it was adorable. As soon as his eyes caught the tattoo he zoned in and immediately wanted to investigate it further. Children are curious and love bright colours. But surely. . .Read More
Jul 11, 2011, 6:42pm
Comment by wyxz in Why Are People Touching Me?

It looks to me as if those people thought that just because you've got a tattoo, especially in "kinky places", then you must be more accesible (whory, so to speak) than those girls who don't own t. . .Read More
Jul 11, 2011, 4:18pm
Comment by Scicurious in Why Are People Touching Me?

I totally identify.  I've had people come up to me and start tracing my tattoo.  Creepy beyond belief, especially since it's on my back and I can't see them coming.  I've had people pull my shir. . .Read More
Jul 11, 2011, 3:10pm
Comment by Alchemystress in Why Are People Touching Me?

@Brian yes exactly thats a great analogy.. apparently I am asking for it...   @Evie yeah its really common place grocery stores, bars... etc.. I have no idea why people seem to. . .Read More
Jul 11, 2011, 9:24am
Comment by Psycasm in Why Are People Touching Me?

I'm tattooed, but most people don't notice. I can't say anything you haven't, but that behaviour is shocking.... what the hell is the reasoning? . . .Read More
Jul 10, 2011, 9:22pm
Comment by JaySeeDub in Why Are People Touching Me?

Wow, I've touched, but only after asking. And never an area so intimate as the hip. That's just...incredibly personal and creepy. . . .Read More
Jul 10, 2011, 6:21pm
Monday, February 7, 2011

I am super feminine, but not girly, I dress classic like Audrey Hepburn but have tattoos, and skulls on my keychain, working on a quarter sleeve in fact. I am a chemist that does engineering and biology. I drive a truck and wear high heels almost everyday. I model, I do runways, I build mass specs and nanodevices. I spin fire, and am an honorary part of a fire circus and I teach organic chemistry. I did Burning Man, I did research on a boat in Hawaii. I have a horrid curiosity to the point where I want to know everything even, when I am not interested. I hike and love the outdoors, camping and getting dirty but enjoy a good dance club as well. I drink whiskey and smoke cigars sometimes, and I also like to run long distances.

I think people forget that to be successful doesn’t mean you need one focus, or are one note; we are multi-faceted, all of us, and that one note really is a melody. I used to struggle with this dichotomy that is me. I have learned to embrace it and balance myself between all these things.  It’s OK to be many things and yet still one. It took a long time for me to learn that and move forward in life. Science is about creativity and innovation; and I think people have this notion that it is this “stuffy subject” that old men in tweed suits sit around and discuss in monotone. Maybe sometimes it is, but hey variety is the spice of life. It’s this exciting whirlwind.  Every day technology grows in leaps and bounds we are light years ahead of where we were last week. How can this not be exciting? We are learning the secrets of the universe. Yes, it’s frustrating and maddening but really what other way could it be? It takes people with adventure and ideas that do not exist yet to make science work. You cannot stay in the box, we know that already. Step out, prove Schrödinger wrong. Anything can happen today and that means you can discover anything any day. I get it, science is a long rigorous education and very hard on those of us brave enough to delve into the unknowns. But it has to be. The world is complex and we can only hope to begin to understand it. To make a dent in that comprehension, we need to understand what has been done before and there is oh so much.

I swear, I just get dumber each day but, oh my god, the person of yesterday already doesn’t exist today in the knowledge I gain.  I didn’t take an easy path to be here, I struggled a lot and have hit rock bottom a few times. Cliché as it sounds, I am stronger for it; better for it. Focus, drive, desire, and passion are all mine. I know what I am missing. I know what I have given up to be here and it’s worth it. As scientists, we sit in awe of the world; curious to it all -- looking in places that no one has dared or no one even knew existed. But to do all this, I think we need more than our science. We need the rest of ourselves and those things that make us and are intrinsic to our personalities because it’s our personalities that make us persevere, succeed, fail, fall and stand back up. Thank god we all like different things; there are so many avenues to explore. Someone once told me that all we need is already with in us; we just have to find it. Go dance under the moon, run a PCR, play on a mass spec, dive a 100 feet underwater, climb a mountain, make a hypothesis. It is ok to be many things because as mathematics teaches us, it all adds up just the variables change.

So saying all of that, what does it mean? What is it that I do as a chemist? How has this strange serendipitous life affected me? Well I did cancer research for a bit before doing grad school and I started my grad career as a MS Student in biochem. In March, I switched to doing a PhD in chemistry. This makes it kind of my second year/first year. I hold a BS in biology so trust me when I say I am a fish completely out of water. I do a lot of proteomics type work.  I am involved in projects of looking at biomarkers and protein conformations. I have a biology background, which helps me direct the chemistry and technology where it should go. I specifically work on an FT-ICR MS (Fourier Transform Ionization Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spec) but I also get to play with all sorts of instruments. Our lab builds instruments, improves them and also hooks them together and we have a lot of tandem-type instrumentation leading to the FT-ICR MS.  On the other side of things, I also am involved in the electrical engineering department. I am learning to build really small stuff like biosensors and am learning how to microfabricate biosystems. There is a nanotechnology aspect to the things I do. I am trying to build nanodevices for the FT-ICR to better introduce samples in a more viable and physiologically relevant way. Who knows where that aspect of things will take me.  So I have to take a lot of engineering courses, getting my first one down this semester. I do a lot of calculations, you wouldn’t believe all the things ions want to do in an electromagnetic field, and then you have to manipulate them to make them do what you want. I had no idea before that ions could be this complicated. So there are a lot of quantum mechanical-type things to keep in mind. Besides Mass spec, I do some spectroscopy, including IR, learning NMR currently and UV of course. I also do some computer molecular modeling. I am trying to look at protein conformations on the mass spec, but also I computer model the proteins to get a better idea of what is going on, if reality confirms theory.

Chemistry has a lot of cool things to offer and I am just unable to choose one field it seems.  Part of it is because I have much, much more to learn. I am inundated with information day in and day out. I mentioned that I also teach organic chemistry, which is such a turnaround from everything else I do. I consider the lab time the only real wet chemistry I ever do in a week. It’s fun but draining. The labs involve a lecture from me and then the lab itself. I learn a lot there since I definitely am not an organic chemist, but the mechanisms are just beautiful.

I am basically open to all science. It’s all new and strange and difficult, so I have no bias in a way. My background was not in any way preparative for what I am doing now, so there is a lot of catch up I have to play. The qualification exams are kicking my ass all over the place but I study and read like an insane woman. I purposely take classes I know I will struggle in, because I know if I can figure it out, I deserve to be here. If I can do this then it makes me a better scientist. I signed up for the classes that scared the living hell out of me. They truly do. It’s my way of dealing with the fear, the complexities of what I do, and pushing myself because honestly, failure scares me more than anything. But this, for now, makes me a scientist without a home. I feel like I have multiple scientific personalities. I like all science; it’s all fun and interesting. I know a little of everything but have no specialty. I want to be good at something not just kind of knowing a little bit of everything. I suppose it’s a bit of an identity crisis.  Finding my niche and learning enough to be useful are my goals. Not useful yet, but getting there. Chemists do so many amazing things, in regards to medicine, ecology, warfare, space travel, fuel, agriculture, distilling etc. You name it, chemists are there and being one, I hope, opens the door for me to play in all sorts of different fields which can help with my scientific schizophrenia. This also means all the hard work thus far is just the beginning and the road ahead is long and arduous. I have cried and laughed a lot this past year and have had days that I loved and days I wanted to quit but I keep going and hope the days I laugh outnumber the days I want to walk away. But isn’t this the life of the graduate student? C’est la vie

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